Sanctuary’s vision is to bring women to the God of all comfort, the God of protection and provision, the God of goodness and grace. The title offers help and hope knowing that only God, through Jesus Christ, offers true healing for suffering, pain and loss.
The picture that best captures biblical counseling for me is that of the friends who carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus (Mark 2). They were full of hope. They believed Jesus fully and, based on that belief, they not only put in sweat equity, time and effort, they sought the best, most direct route to Jesus even if it meant tearing apart Peter’s roof. That’s how I picture my job. I can’t fix or change anything, but I know the One who can. And I love you so much, I’ll work alongside others to pick up my end of your bed and get you there. I’ll carry you across town if I have to, climb stairs beneath a blazing sun, and scrabble at rocks, gravel and sticks with bare hands if it means putting you at Jesus’ feet.
How, then, should people helpers view women in need of help from domestic abuse?
They are not projects; they’re people. Real people in a real, though wicked, environment.
My goal is long: sanctification, transformation, spiritual maturity. In order to get there, given the circumstances, I must consider physical safety, their current environment, and ability to withstand abuse. I must know the lethality of a situation and abuser. I must know and be sensitive to her need–and I can only find out if I ask questions in a safe, quiet, accepting way. No threat of punishment, no outburst of disagreement, no correction or coercion.
Helping her may mean removing her from the environment and abuser (highly likely) for a period of time. Picking up her mat means listening to her, asking questions, investing, suffering alongside, and being available. As she shares and processes, I have the opportunity to reflect a true image of herself, her abuser, and God. As someone who is not in her place, I must earn the privilege of reflecting back what is true, loving, and difficult.
There are times I will do the leg work, the climbing, the praying, the uphill struggling as she learns to trust–something that has led to incredible pain, sorrow, and despair with her abuser. Taking her to Jesus is hard work, but she is my friend. She is precious to Jesus. She is precious to me. Jesus is looking for her. He is there, guiding, protecting, leading.
And, then, there are times I let her down through the roof and I must trust that she is in His care. I cannot stay alongside her each moment, knowing, helping. God is there. My example of trust and obedience speaks volumes to her heart, giving her courage to come to Him, then to walk behind and follow Him.
For those who haven’t connected the dots or heard it before, Jesus did not die for the Sabbath. He did not die to save the temple or Jewish traditions. Those institutions were intended to aid in worship and God’s glory, but they were not the object of His sacrificial gift; they are not redeemed by His forgiveness, but by His people living redeemed lives within them. In the same way, Jesus did not die for marriage. He died and rose to give life to individuals–individuals who live in a marriage. Without His redemptive work in individual lives, He will not redeem or glorify the institution of marriage. We must be guard against the leaven of the Pharisees who blasphemed in their hearts when Jesus brought life and resurrection to one paralyzed by outside forces.
Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
Thus says God the Lord,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it,
Who gives breath to the people on it,
And spirit to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
I am the Lord, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images.
I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them. (Isaiah 42 selections)