1 Peter 5:1-5 ESV
“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
When I was a child (1950-1967), we moved around a lot. I can remember every place we lived all the way back to when I was age two. It was eleven residences in all. One day I told all my memories of the places we had lived to my older brother (not my oldest brother) and he was able to give me addresses or at least street names and general locations for all of those places. So, in essence, he validated my memories.
A few years ago my husband and I were back in our hometown and we were able to find all those places but one, which was probably because the house had been removed and other buildings had been put in its place. Two of the houses had been physically removed, the last two I had lived in with my parents. But, again, my memories were being validated.
I just recently talked with a friend I knew when I was in Jr and Sr High School, and we are still friends, and she validated another memory of mine, only this one was not a very good one. This one was about the abuses of my father. And what I remember there goes all the way back to when I was 5 or 6 years old. That is when my dad began to take advantage of me sexually.
Now, my parents both claimed to be Christians. We went to the institutional church every time the doors were open – Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evenings, and for all special meetings. But at home my dad was Satan to me, basically. He was a big bully who tried to prove that he was the smartest, the fastest, the most talented, and the strongest, etc.
He beat us all, especially my mom. And he sexually abused at least me and my two younger sisters. And our mom, although she took care of us physically, was emotionally neglectful. I was never hugged or told that I was loved. I cried a lot, and I cried my pain and my suffering out to Jesus who was my Savior from the time I was around the age of seven.
Then one day my dad had my mom out on the front lawn strangling her and beating her head up against a tree. I wasn’t at home. I was at my aunt’s house, but my youngest sister was at home and she called my aunt and told her, and I presumed that my aunt then made an appointment for me and my sister next to me in age with the pastor, for next we were in his office.
I told the pastor about the abuses of my dad towards our mom, for that is why we were there. But his response was that he could do nothing about it unless she pressed charges. So, he was going to just leave our situation as it was, and he was going to do nothing. And so I told him about the sexual abuse, and how long it had been going on, and his response was, “But did he force you?” Of course he forced us!
I sensed no compassion from this man at all. He was our pastor, but he wasn’t shepherding us. He was going to leave us in an abusive environment, and when told about the sexual abuse, his thought was in just making sure we didn’t volunteer to be abused by our dad at very early ages, a dad who was already known in the family for being a wife abuser.
Then, the next thing I knew was that my dad was being committed to a mental hospital voluntarily. So, what if he hadn’t have volunteered? What if he had denied the charges? Would we have been left in that environment? Well, a year and a half later they sent him back home. No one talked to us kids that whole year and a half about what had happened, and now this.
So, he was allowed to come back into the home and resume his abuses. When he attempted it with me again, this time I told my mom, and he never tried it with me again, but the mental and verbal abuse only got worse. And he continued his abuses at least with my youngest sister for maybe another 10 years, which her daughters have shared publicly (she is now deceased).
The church leaders gave us no support, no help, no counsel. They knew what my dad had done and was still doing because we told them, but they just let him continue, and he continued abusing my mom mentally, verbally, and emotionally until her death at age 86. So, if you are a pastor of a church congregation, don’t abandon your flock. Nurture them in the Lord.
1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
My story may have been the exception to the rule when I was a child, but maybe not, but with the cheap grace gospel giving people permission to continue in their sinful practices, and with the easy access to pornography and other types of sexual material now on smart phones, via the internet, the number of Christian men involved in viewing porn is astounding!
And what is even more astounding is the high percentage of pastors who are engaging in sexual deviancy and pornography and other types of sinful sexual behavior. So, the number of abused children today has to be high in numbers, too. And the church is largely doing nothing to stop it, for their cheap grace is giving these people permission to keep on in their sins.
But, for all the horrible things I went through as a child, some of which continued into my adult years via other sources, God allowed this in my life or it could not have happened. He didn’t approve of it, but he didn’t try to stop it. He allows his children to suffer, and he even says that suffering is what we should experience if we are his true children.
Now, as soon as I sat down to write my devotions this morning the Lord reminded me of what I went through as a child, and this is for a reason. When it says here to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, I can give testimony to the fact that those words are true.
Seventeen years ago the Lord Jesus called me to this present ministry of writing out what he teaches me from his word each day and of placing these writings on the internet for him to take them wherever he wants them to go. All I do is sit down with the Scriptures and let him lead me in what to write, and then I post them on the internet, and he gets them to people.
Now, life didn’t get easier for me, but that is another whole story I won’t go into now. Suffice it to say that I continued to have a life of suffering, but God has used it all in my life to make me who I am so that he could use me in the way he designed for me from even before he created the world. This was always to be my calling. I just didn’t know it until 2004.
So, if you are going through difficult circumstances, or if you are being abused in some way, take it to the Lord in prayer. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares for you. Let him guide you in what to do and in what to say and in how to say it. And know that God didn’t promise us a life free from suffering or a life free from attacks from our enemy Satan.
Don’t let Satan get the best of you. Don’t yield to your difficult circumstances to where you let them overcome you. Be an overcomer in the strength of the Lord! Resist the devil, firm in your faith, knowing that you are not alone in your suffering, but that others have walked and may still be walking in your shoes.
And commit your way to the Lord. Trust him to work it all out for good in your life. Let him lead. Follow in his footsteps. Let him show you how he can use your suffering for his glory. Be who he created you to be, even if it means more suffering. For, if we are following Jesus, we are going to be rejected and persecuted, even by family members.
So, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight off Satan’s evil schemes against you. And walk in the Spirit and do not give the devil a foothold in your life. And let God lead you every step of the way and let him open the doors he has for you, for if he called you, he has something he wants you to do.
Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s Song)
Songwriters: Amy Lee Grant / Chris Eaton
I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy father you have come
And chosen me now to carry your son
I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven..
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