DARBY STRICKLAND|GUEST Did you know that 25% of married Christian women are being abused by their spouses? How might that change your response when a woman in your church comes up to you seeking marital advice? Victims of abuse need you to be alert to their reality. How might knowing the prevalence of domestic abuse prompt you to engage women in your church differently? I know it is hard to imagine that domestic abuse is so common, let alone that it frequently occurs in your church. And, regardless of how often it is occurring in your church, if there is even one woman in your local church body that is being abused, she needs you to be alert to recognize her situation. Unaware of a Pervasive Problem There are two main reasons we often do not detect the presence of domestic abuse. The first is that marital oppression occurs behind closed doors—it is typically not something we observe happening. Oppressors use coercion and punishment in private to control their spouse, while they manage a carefully crafted image in public. The Bill Cosby and Ravi Zacharias scandals help us to better understand an abuser's ability to deceive those around him. They behaved very differently in public than in private. People who perpetrate abuse are master deceivers. That means there are most likely abusive people in your church that you could never imagine were abusive. Many abusers do not fit the loud, aggressive, out-of-control personality that you might picture in your mind. The second reason why we do not recognize abuse is because the victim does not realize she is being oppressed. I have had hundreds of conversations with victims who themselves struggle to call abusive behaviors sin, let alone abuse. Victims of abuse know that something is wrong, but they often do not know what it is. They worry that they exaggerate, are oversensitive, are ultimately responsible for their spouse's anger, or do not remember things correctly when recounting an intense conflict. Their abuser blames them for how he treats them, and they come to believe the cruel and twisted accusations. Consequently, they live in a fog of confusion created by their oppressor. Because of their inability to comprehend that what they are enduring rises to the level of abuse, when abused women approach other women in the church, they will ask for advice or feedback...
I was 23 years old when I started praying daily for my husband and 33 when I met him. From the time we came home from our honeymoon, we prayed the Lord would make us parents. It wasn’t until the day before our 3rd anniversary when we finally received a positive pregnancy test. Waiting has often been a painful part of my story, but as I look back, I can see the Lord’s hand through it all. In many ways, the waiting was and is not complete, but in that sense I feel a kinship with many familiar Bible characters, and more so, the ultimate story of redemption. We are all waiting, aren’t we? How I long to wait well and in ways that honor God! When it comes to waiting well, the following are five helpful principles I’ve learned during long seasons of waiting: Be Honest with God. Your Heavenly Father knows you are in a season of waiting. He hears every cry of your heart, sees every painful tear that falls, feels every flicker of hope you feel. He knows it all, yet He longs for His children to be honest with Him, to wrestle with Him, and to continue to respond to Him in prayer, petitioning and trusting that He has not forgotten you. As Elisabeth Elliot said, “Waiting on God requires the ability to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one's thoughts.”..
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