Abused Women Following the Shepherd
I work with many abused and formerly abused women. Their lives have been shattered by the evil actions of their husband or boyfriend. This is a person they love(d) and trust(ed) to take care of them. Instead of receiving love and protection however, their “loved one” calls them names, orders them around like servants, controls them, criticizes them, frightens them, threatens them, and often beats and rapes them. Worse, he blames all his actions on them.
If you find yourself in this situation, I invite you to check out my Get Help page, where you will find phone numbers, websites and books that will help you. Also, you can read my blog entitled How to Recognize a Potentially Abusive Relationship. This blog will help you discern what to do next.
When I talk with abused women, I give them tools for their safety, and ways to find people to help them. In addition to these practical tools, I always try to point them to Jesus. I believe He is the best person to go to with our pain and troubles.
I love the Psalms. Currently, I am posting a verse of the Psalms that pertain to abuse every Monday to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. One of the best-known Psalms is Psalm 23. Here is the Psalm in the New International Version:
A psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley, (or, the valley of the shadow of death)
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
When a westerner hears the line “he makes me lie down in green pastures,” we often think of lush green meadows, filled with tasty green grass. I know I always have. However, there are no such meadows in Israel, now or when David first wrote this Psalm. I recently saw a YouTube clip that gave me a new understanding of this passage. It shows a minister, Ray Vander Laan walking through the Israeli wilderness, where shepherds today still guide their sheep. Here is the 6-minute clip.
Israel is a desert country. There are no fields of grass for shepherds to guide their sheep. Instead, they take them over rocky hills that look completely barren. But, they aren’t barren. Small tufts of grass grow up around rocks that hold a bit of moisture from the morning dew, or a rare, brief shower.
Ray Vander Laan says, “The shepherd looks for a hillside that has had rain or dew. The sheep walk a step, have a mouthful, walk another step, another mouthful. Green pastures are not everything you need for the rest of your life. If you picture ‘green pastures’ to mean [a lush meadow], you might think God will pluck you down there and you will never need to move again.”
But no one’s life with God is like this, especially not the lives of abused women.
Vander Laan continues, “One rabbi calls worry, ‘dealing with tomorrow’s problems on today’s pasture.’ In the desert you learn the shepherd will get you what you need for right now. Ten minutes from now – you trust the shepherd…just enough.”
I love this picture. An abused woman has so many things to worry about. When she leaves her abuser, her worries do not go away. Suddenly, she might be forced to find work, and a new place to live. She might have to deal with the court system, lawyers, social services, and police intervention.
I am not saying she should stay with her abuser.
NOT AT ALL.
Each woman must decide this for herself, with the help of a domestic violence advocate. If she does leave, her life might be harder for a while than it was before she left. But that isn’t my point.
My point is that no matter what stage she is in, she can rest in the knowledge that the Great Shepherd, (Jesus), is leading and guiding her. He will give her just what she needs, just when she needs it.
She only needs to stay close to the shepherd.