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Throughout her high school years, my daughter volunteered at a shelter for abused women and their children. Through her work there, I was exposed to how prevalent and devastating domestic abuse is in America. It cripples not only the direct victim, but also abuser and the people who witness it, usually the kids.
Abuse takes many forms … but it is almost always debilitating. In the United States alone, 3 to 4 million women are battered each year by their husbands or partners. Three million reports of child abuse are made every year just in the United States. But experts estimate that the actual number of incidents of abuse and neglect is three times greater than reported. Many children are suffering from this hidden epidemic. While these are U.S. figures, these problems exist around the world, and in most places at much higher rates.
Abuse is a sin that dishonors God and disrespects His creation of life. Obviously, physical danger exists. Whether the abuse is psychological, physical or verbal, the most chronic damage is that it distorts the lenses we need to see life accurately, from God’s perspective. We need eyes that see the truth, and abuse does the exact opposite.
Abuse erodes confidence and self-esteem. We begin believing what we are told about ourselves; we think that anyone treated violently and abusively must deserve it. These beliefs are often accepted early in life and become part of the initial lenses through which we see and process all information. Even if abuse occurs when we are older, the intensity of the experience makes it a formidable opponent to seeing ourselves as God sees us, our God-image.
Abuse communicates “I am worthless”… “I am an object to be used by you whenever you want” … “dignity, respect, and honor are not for me”… “I don’t deserve or accomplish anything in life”. These distortions and interpretations form part of the foundation on which we build the rest of our lives.
Today, ask, “How do I see myself?” “Is my self-image based on other people’s words and actions toward me? Or is it based on the truth of God’s Word, a God-image?” God knew you before you were even born. He created you … and His works are wonderful. Let Jesus help take your eyes off yourself and begin the process of putting your eyes on Him. He is able to heal our eyes, to see ourselves as He sees us.
Dear Father God, Thank You for this reminder that You formed me and made me … and that Your works are wonderful. I must admit, though, sometimes I don’t feel as though I’m wonderful at all. In fact, sometimes I feel as though I don’t deserve anything good. Help me to really grasp what Jesus did for me. I pray this and all prayers in the name of Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.