A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

A New Way to Look at Jabs

I have not read Second Corinthians in about two years. It was once my favorite book because I always felt like Paul is baring his soul. No apologies . . . not real worried about TMI . . . sadness, disappointment, over-flowing cup of joy . . . the works. Paul experiences the entire spectrum of emotion in one heart-felt Epistle. I used to read it over and over for years. I read about Paul’s severe affliction (hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger . . . ) and I just knew I could face each day because Paul had it much worse than I. I had even memorized a large chunk out of chapter four:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies . . .  2 Cor. 4:7-10 ESV

I would recite these verses to myself whenever I was hurt or jabbed, as though they were a magic pill to make the crazy stop. I was not reading the letter right . . . I had not put it into context.

The other day, my sweet husband  (David) read something out of 2 Corinthians to me and my love for the book was renewed. I ventured that way and was astonished by the fact that I could not stop reading. I fell in love with 2 Corinthians again . . . but in a new and fresh way.

I had not thought about that to which Paul might have been reacting. He is not declaring his martyrdom and suffering as though he is more holy than most. He is describing all that he has been through in utter vulnerability. He is pleading with the Church in Corinth:

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. 6:11-13

And here is the same passage in two other versions:

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.  We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.  As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also. (NIV)

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (Message)

Paul went through it all. He had thorns. I love that man.

I was listening to a live Jason Upton performance of his latest praise album. There is a long piece about forgiveness. In the middle of the piece, Jason Upton speaks of the “cup” that Jesus drinks. John 18:10-11 describes where Peter cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus heals the ear and then says to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

There is something extremely powerful in what Jesus says. There is forgiveness . . . there is a deeper understanding of the big picture. If I can look my betrayer in the eye and say, “You are a cup from my Father”, I have victory. I still get jabbed at,  years after I made the most difficult decision of my life (leaving my first husband). It is as though these abusers and allies of my abuser just want me to remember that they are still there — ever condemning. Now, I have a thorn; a cup. And I am thankful. Do you know why? Because (as Barb put it), it “keeps a fire in my belly”. I can continue to work and advocate for men and women who are being abused. That sick, dark feeling is never far away . . . I am not allowed to forget it because Jesus has a job for me to do. And now . . . instead of feeling stress and strain, I am thankful.

I am relating to Paul now, as all Believers in Christ can and should. Look at this:  ” . . . through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known . .. “ 2 Cor. 6:8-9. He gets it. He was treated like an impostor .  . . unknown . . . he was treated with dishonor and was slandered. Yet He was known by the One who counts. Paul was true and he knew it. That is a pretty solid foundation. I am known by God. I know God. I am not perfect but I am true. Good enough.

I am thankful for my thorn. I am smiling as I write this. They can’t get under my skin, anymore. They cannot get into my brain, anymore, quite as easily. It is too full of the Truth of God’s Word these days. Try as they might, their little under-handed “anonymous” baloney hits a wall of Truth. And I stand tall and hold my head up high. Which is my calling and yours . . . as a beloved child of the King.

23 Comments

  1. BARBARA

    THIS IS VERY HELPFUL.
    THANK YOU!
    EPHESIANS 3:20

  2. Cindy

    Well said. What the abuser meant for evil God has redeemed. I am so thankful for the brothers and sisters that have broke past the silence barrier and are speaking up in truth. So many times we have been told if we spoke up we are gossiping. Thanks to all here for their great encouragement.

    • Anonymous

      I am so glad that you said, “What the abuser meant for evil…” because too often I have heard a mixed-up message concerning God in that evil. No, no. Satan sends the evil, our good God and Savior, turns it to good for us, as we seek to bring God’s will into the wickedness of our situation.

  3. Jeff Crippen

    “I am thankful for my thorn.” I see your point Meg. And this is quite a lot different than saying that the thorn itself is good. Evil is evil is evil. So we aren’t telling victims that they should “love and forgive and be thankful for” their abuser and his cruelty, and therefore they should stay in it or go back to it and ask for more because it is such a good thing. As Joseph told his brothers after the fact, “you meant it to me for evil, but God meant it for good.” We still call the police. We can divorce. We can pray that God would strike down the wicked. And in it all we can be confident that the Lord will turn it to good. This is much different than telling victims “well, blessings on you sister as you get the stuffing beat out of you. Praise the Lord in it and be thankful.”

    • MeganC

      Thank you for clarifying, Jeff. Your words are very important and I hope that our readers can understand that I am not thankful for the abuse I have suffered or the jabs I receive right now. And I do all (and have done all) that Jeff describes above. I left my first husband and I do not tolerate abuse in my life. I work to advocate for women and men who have been and are being abused. But, I must forgive . . . for my own sake . . . which never ever ever means placing myself in the path of abuse again. It means that I let go of the sense of revenge (as Peter was feeling when he cut off the man’s ear). I hope this makes sense.

    • Anonymous

      That’s right, and thanks for that, Pastor Crippen. We bring God’s will (righteousness and goodness) into the evil situation, and there are a multitude of ways of doing that. Too often our response has been wrong, We have encouraged victims of abuse to endure and suffer long, instead of recognizing that abuse is NOT the will of God, for anyone, and then working to bring what IS God’s will, into the abusive situation.

      Amen, Megan. Excellent post, and thanks for clarifying that forgiveness does not demand reconciliation, but just the freedom for us that we have turned from seeking any revenge against our abusers and have entrusted God to bring His justice and His vengeance in the situation. Forgiving helps to remove the abuser’s power over your life.

  4. Megan, this is a wonderful post! God has truly gifted you with insights and the ability to express those insights in writing.

    This post reminds me of something that has been close to my heart, lately. My father (Papa) went home to Jesus, a couple of weeks ago. The funeral service was one of the most amazing worship services I’ve ever experienced. Both at the funeral, and later on my blog, http://josephjpote.com/2013/11/extraordinary-service/ , I’ve attempted to explain what I see as the primary focus of Papa’s life. Several things stand out, his love for Jesus, his love of teaching God’s word, his love for people, his deep faith in the hope of Heaven…

    But, I think what really ties all these together that makes Papa so special, is his constant awareness of his own weakness…his complete inability to ever overcome sin or accomplish anything of eternal significance, apart from the grace of God…his constant looking forward to that great day when he would meet Jesus face-to-face and the curse of sin would finally be completely broken!

    Much like Paul, Papa’s greatest strength was his constant awareness of his own weakness and complete reliance on the sufficiency of Christ .

    Thank you, for the beautiful post!

    • MeganC

      Joe . . . Thank you for this. I love the legacy you have from your father:

      “But, I think what really ties all these together that makes Papa so special, is his constant awareness of his own weakness…his complete inability to ever overcome sin or accomplish anything of eternal significance, apart from the grace of God…his constant looking forward to that great day when he would meet Jesus face-to-face and the curse of sin would finally be completely broken!”

      How beautiful. I can tell he was a wonderful man.

  5. Meg and Jeff, you both make perfect sense! Drinking the cup and suffering the evil for a season until one “wakes up” or finds the “way of escape” that God provides (like calling police, separating, divorcing…) are all part of the equation! If true reconciliation occurs, we rejoice, but if not, we move on or out rejoicing as we go for His provisions!

    When the jabs come we have a choice as to what to do with them as you said, Meg. A “jab” came in the other day stating what a VERY difficult time my separation is for my whole extended family. I mean, what do you do with this kind of jab? Makes you want to either curse or laugh! Poking fun (not to them) is the way I chose this last time: “What is wrong with me?! I should have called you (even though you haven’t called me) and offered my help to get you through your most difficult time of me separating from my spouse. Why didn’t I think of that?” Crazy, isn’t it? But, poking fun like that with some close confidants helped me to move forward and love and forgive their ignorance anyway! Was it Elijah who poked fun at the false prophets?

    • poking fun like that with some close confidants helped me to move forward and love and forgive their ignorance anyway! Was it Elijah who poked fun at the false prophets?

      well said, BSD!

  6. Leslie

    Yes Megan…It totally makes sense! it is a wonderful post!

    Although most of us would wish God had planned it different, the people I know who have come to the deepest relationship with God are the ones who have suffered immensely. Many of them, including me, have come to the place where we can say we are grateful for the circumstances that have made us so keenly dependent on God. The relationship we have with our Heavenly Father is far deeper, richer and more authentic because He became all we had.
    Mother Theresa is quoted as saying “You will never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”

    When your support, your sanity, your identity gets ripped from you, Jesus IS all you have…and in that terrible place, you can discover the beauty that Jesus is all I need.

    I wish I came to that place through an easier path, but I will always be thankful that there were horrible things in my life that brought to this place of resting in His overwhelming love. I truly don’t think i could have gotten here any other way.

    • His beloved

      Amen Leslie- I am so very grateful to be in the place where He is my all in all for He is all I have. It was horribly painful to get here but it was so worth it. He gave me the true desire of my heart – HIMSELF!! I am captivated by His beauty and a prisoner of His love. What could be better than that?

  7. No words, really. From verbose me, imagine that. Megan, this is just beautiful. Thank you!!! I NEEDED to read this today. Going to print it out and carry it for awhile.

  8. His beloved

    Thank you for this post. It touches me with deep hope for even another way that the Lord will heal me and turn all this evil for good. Only Jesus can do such an amazing thing with evil! Praise God for His love and grace towards us.

  9. Anna in the temple

    Thank you Meg. That is wonderful and gives me a new perspective. I have had many prices to pay as a fall out from the abuse I ensured. This is a new perspective. Perhaps it will be my cup too

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  10. I still work on being thankful, since me and my kids still feel like Joseph in Egypt. And maybe that’s how it’s going to be until they are grown. Someday in the future I hope to look back on all of these years as something great that God did for us!

    • me and my kids still feel like Joseph in Egypt.

      Heard that!

  11. Not Too Late

    “Now, I have a thorn; a cup. And I am thankful. Do you know why? Because (as Barb put it), it “keeps a fire in my belly”. I can continue to work and advocate for men and women who are being abused. That sick, dark feeling is never far away . . . I am not allowed to forget it because Jesus has a job for me to do. And now . . . instead of feeling stress and strain, I am thankful.”

    Yes, yes, yes! Thank God for the thorn, which we must still feel, lest we forget…lest we walk away from the calling to be there for others.

  12. it “keeps a fire in my belly”. I can continue to work and advocate for men and women who are being abused. That sick, dark feeling is never far away . . . I am not allowed to forget it because Jesus has a job for me to do.

    Now that you mention it, this is a good thing the Lord is bringing out of my own bad situation which I seem to be denied the power to resolve the way I deem best, even though there’s nothing wrong — and a good deal right from a righteousness perspective — with my argument for the way I would prefer things to be right now. It makes me feel a little bit better about it (though on the other hand, it makes me feel a bit worse too, if you know what I mean :/) that my personal crisis doesn’t necessarily register in heaven the same way it seems it should to me because perhaps I need things to be this way, at least for the foreseeable future.

    • MeganC

      I think I understand, BIT. There were some things I could fight for and win . . . and there are plenty of things out of my control. Things I simply have to live with. 😦 But, without the right perspective, I (speaking only of myself) might become bitter. Instead, God gives me perspective (sometimes daily) to keep my heart healthy . . . mind healthy . . . and that fire in my belly. xo

      • Brenda R

        I was. not more than 10 minutes ago. spitting nails, angry, ready to hop in my car and go to this persons house and give them a large piece of my mind. Instead, I reread your post and it brought me comfort and I am calming as I write. I do not want to become bitter. Mostly, I just want to be available to help someone else that needs support and be about the Father’s business. It is amazing how a few scriptures can calm the evil that could come from my heart.

    • oh BIT ((hugs))
      That Amy Carmichael quote keeps coming back to me — “in acceptance, lieth peace.” We all have work to do, and it’s usually directly related to whatever God has allowed to enter our lives.

      • Thanks Katy. I know you know what I’m talking about! God knows what He’s doing though sometimes I’m sure He’s nuts. 🙂

        He will resolve all that concerns Him in His way and time. (Tap, tap, tap. That is my foot…. 😉 )

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