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God Wants Us to Be Free – Part 1

 

This week, I have been studying Beth Moore’s Breaking Free* bible study. On week 1, Day 5, page 26, she writes, “God hears the cry of the oppressed. God even hears the cries of those who have been oppressed as a result of sin and rebellion. We must never cease believing that

God cares about those in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual prisons. Tweet This

Everything that concerns us is God’s domain. God issued Isaiah 61:1-4 as a response to the captivity he foresaw as he looked down on rebellious Judah.”

Isaiah 61:1-4 reads:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, 
 
  because the Lord has anointed me
  
  to proclaim good news to the poor. 

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, 

  to proclaim freedom for the captives 
    
  and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor 
     

  and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn, 

  and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
     

  instead of ashes, 

the oil of joy
     

  instead of mourning, 

and a garment of praise
     

  instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
     

  a planting of the Lord
    
  for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins 
     
  and restore the places long devastated;

they will renew the ruined cities
     

  that have been devastated for generations.

In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful passages in the bible. I also believe that abuse victims are captive prisoners, and that these verses apply to them. Abuse victims certainly are brokenhearted, are mourning, and in despair. The Lord proclaims that He wants to give them:

a crown of beauty
     
  instead of ashes, 

the oil of joy
     

  instead of mourning, 

and a garment of praise
     

  instead of a spirit of despair.


Beth Moore continues, “Let’s take a look at a much earlier instance when God looked down on the slavery of His people. I want you to see that part of God’s consistent character is wooing the captive to freedom. Read Exodus 3:7: The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.’ Notice that God initiated the saving relationship between the people and the Liberator.”

Beth Moore continues on, “When we are suffering because of captivity (or for any other reason), we must learn to cry out! Yes, of course, God sees our suffering and cares deeply for us, but acknowledging the slavery is a crucial starting place toward authentic freedom.”

When I read this, I was prompted to share my story of how I walked from captivity to freedom.

I had been married for 20 years. The first 5 years were quite good. The second 5 were not quite as good. The next 5 years I realized I had an unhappy marriage as my husband began using the “silent treatment” to keep me in line. During the last 5 years, my marriage became hellish. He would become “angry” over a very small slight, and decide not to speak to me for up to a month at a time. During those times, he would also rage at me at unpredictable times, keeping me “walking on eggshells”.

The last year I began standing up to his behavior, and things got much worse. He started to hit me and to hold me down so I couldn’t move. He began threatening divorce, to take away my children, and even made veiled threats to my life. He did not speak to me, except to rage at me, for that entire year.

During all this time, I never acknowledged to myself that I was being abused. I tried all the typical things that abuse victims do to placate my husband, so that he would not “be angry” at me. I had gone to my church twice, asking my pastors to hold him accountable, which they didn’t do. It wasn’t until my husband insisted that I tell my children that he had “never abused me” that I was willing to really look at my life.

At that point, I began looking up what abuse really was. When I couldn’t find a good definition for emotional or verbal abuse, I called the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). The advocate at the hotline that I spoke to recommended I read Patricia Evans’ book The Verbally Abusive Relationship.** Suddenly I realized that I was in fact being verbally abused. At that point, I became really frightened.

During the previous 10 years, I had been crying out to God because of my suffering. However, it wasn’t until I realized that I was truly being abused that I (in Beth Moore’s words) acknowledged the slavery that I was living in. With the strength of the Lord behind me, I was finally ready to do something about it. I was no longer waiting for my husband to change, or waiting for men from my church to hold him accountable.

In my next blog, I will share the steps I took to free myself from my bondage.

Question: Have you ever read Isaiah 61, and realized how it might pertain to you and the abuse you experience?

I pray you feel God’s intimate, eternal love for you today.

Caroline


* Beth Moore, Breaking Free, The Journey, The Stories  (Nashville, Tennessee: LifeWay Press, November 2010).

** Patricia Evans, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, How to Recognize It and How to Respond (Avon, Mass.: Adams Media Corporation, 1996).

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