Prayer for a New Year

In many ways and posts, this blog has become a place of trying to advocate, or communicate, unseen and unrealized needs of women in oppressive relationships. I have tried to lift a voice in place of theirs; to be found and heard by those who care, who want to understand, who know and love God, but are deceived, desensitized or simply blind to what is happening in marriages and lives around them.

I am not alone. Other voices–good and helpful voices–are speaking into the lives of women who are hurting. Here are just a few. There are many others (you may add to this list in the comments section):

While we may not be in agreement on all things doctrinal, but we have similar goals and the same object of our faith: Jesus.

Jesus is our hope. In the midst of nightmares, trauma, loss of personal identity, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and practical freedom, Jesus is better. He is more. He is there.

The God who made the world and everything that is in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made by hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might feel around for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist… (Acts 17:24-28)

God has put each us where we are, when we are, for no other reason than to seek Him and find Him. Is it not uncommon for me to ask women, “Have your circumstances caused you to look for God? To seek after Him?” Yes. Always yes. “And have you found Him?”

God is the goal. He is the motivation, the profound answer to our greatest need, the need for a Savior; the need for forgiveness, renewal, purpose. He is the Who that answers our “Why?” As I come to know Jesus, His great love for me, His mercy and grace, I react and respond differently to others and my circumstances.

With Jesus, I am not alone. I have access to the omnicient, omnipresent, omnipotent One.

For who among people knows the thoughts of a person except the spirit of the person that is in him? So also the thoughts of God no one knows, except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. But the one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is discerned by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:11-16)

The things God wants us to know, He has clearly revealed in His Word. In those times we don’t know what we need to know, we know the One who does.

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, so that we may follow all the words of this Law. (Deuteronomy 29:29)

I am only responsible for the things God has given and taught me. I am not responsible for what I don’t know. I am not responsible for what I cannot do. I am not responsible for my husband’s behavior, words, actions, responses; for other’s interpretations of my words, actions, responses; for the outcome of an event; for reconciliation, peace in my home, children’s words, behavior, responses. There are so many things I cannot control; things God does not ask or expect me to control.

But when I am in a difficult situation, when I fall into a manhole like Mr. Magoo, when I experience peirasmos (literally, a temptation or test) unexpectedly, God says to ask. That’s all. Ask.

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials (peirasmos), knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)

An oppressive husband is likely to say his behavior is your fault. His (perceived) failure, shortcoming, sin, or any lack of anything is your fault. But God says differently. God says it’s not. God says you are only responsible for you.

And when you run into something you’re not responsible for–something you can’t change. fix, or make go away–ask for wisdom. Ask for His help. He knows it all (see 1 Corinthians 2 above) and He wants to help you. He wants you to look for Him and find Him. He wants you to have the mind of Christ. And He promises to deliver.

Chances are it won’t look the way you want it to. God doesn’t live on a butterfly and rainbow diet; He uses real circumstances, real people, real life to work out His supernatural purpose and redeeming design in our lives.

You and I cannot change the world around us. But, by God’s grace, we can surrender to His good work in our own lives. It requires submission to God–God as He really is, as He reveals Himself in His Word, not the way we perceive or imagine–and trust that He is able. Here is the prayer of Sanctuary–the prayer of my heart for you:

Because God has chosen to reveal His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ, to give us boldness and confidence in faith and not lose heart in tribulation:

For this reason (see sentence above, Eph. 3:8-13) I bend my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

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