A Cry For Justice

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

How God empowers us to respond to the grievous truth

Ezekiel 2:1-3:15

And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.

And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.

“And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house. But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. And he spread it before me. And it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe. 

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.

And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel—not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.”

Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.”

Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me the voice of a great earthquake: “Blessed be the glory of the LORD from its place!” It was the sound of the wings of the living creatures as they touched one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, and the sound of a great earthquake. The Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the LORD being strong upon me. And I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who were dwelling by the Chebar canal, and I sat where they were dwelling. And I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days. 

Impudence. Stubborness. Briars and Thorns. Scorpions. That was the kind of people Ezekiel was called by God to prophesy to — the rebellious house of Israel who had not repented of their rebellion against God’s precepts. God prepared Ezekiel to deal with these hard people by making his face as hard as their faces. Their foreheads might have been as hard a flint, but Ezekiels’ foreheard was made even harder: as hard as the more abrasive emery. Ezekiel was encouraged not to fear them, nor be dismayed at their contemptuous looks. 

But this was not all that God did to prepare and empower Ezekiel for his mission. He gave him the vision of the Himself and some of the angels who served him in perfect, instantaneous obedience. He gave him the scroll on which, front and back, were written words of lamentation and mourning and woe, telling him to eat it — to absorb its message into his belly. And although the message was grievious, it was sweet to eat.

How many of us can relate to this! The revelation of identifying abuse for what it IS, no longer minimising or denying it, no longer pushing it under the rug or being benumbed and bewildered in the tangle of self-doubt — is a revelation of woe and lamentation and mourning; but it is sweet as honey to know the truth.

And we do well to absorb it into our bellies. Mull over it. Chew the cud of it. Let it permeate our unconscious and conscious minds.  Let the revelation work its way through at the cellular and visceral level. Process the implications. And due to the power of the revelation we may feel overwhelmed for seven days (or seven months) but as the Spirit does the unconscious work, we find ourselves consciously recalibrating. And then, without buying into feeling guilty for having ‘hard foreheads’ in the face of scorpions, we can take the next steps, whatever steps we are led to take for safety and justice for ourselves and other survivors of abuse.

27 Comments

  1. Natalie

    “And then, without buying into feeling guilty for having ‘hard foreheads’ in the face of scorpions…”

    Excellent. Exactly what I needed this morning. I read this Scripture out loud – slowly – and it sunk in and filled me with courage again. Thank you. These daily posts are a lifeline to me. If God is for us, who can be against us? Sweet, indeed.

  2. Herjourney

    This is confirmation for the tough task ahead of me.
    Thank you God for your word this morning.
    I bless The Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
    I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 16:7

  3. “briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions”

    I recently thought it was all prickles and thorns next to me.
    The middle of the night exclamation of I’m leaving you! From a quiet sleep I’m awoke. Then the on and on hate speech until my mind can’t take one more thing, I begin to engage and there goes the whip of the scorpion tail. Accusing me of being at fault and starting the whole thing. ???? Then in the dark hours the apology and I love you hug. I’m glad for the temporary end of the madness but I know it’s all prickles and thorns. Almost 3 hours of this. Now It’s off to church. My eyes are saggy and I want to sleep but I must not for then the real problems will begin.

  4. healinginhim

    “The revelation of identifying abuse for what it IS, no longer minimising or denying it, no longer pushing it under the rug or being benumbed and bewildered in the tangle of self-doubt — is a revelation of woe and lamentation and mourning; but it is sweet as honey to know the truth.”
    THANK YOU for this very timely post. Even when reality sets in; it is still very difficult to face those who profess to be Christians as they proceed to knock me down, again and again and ….

  5. Still Reforming

    Yes and amen! No longer under bondage! Just listened to a a teaching this morning on Galatians 4 and was encouraged that we are to PUT OFF the yoke of bondage! We who are really His children are called to no longer live in bondage. We can cast off the bondswoman – the yoke – and not be oppressed by the legalistic church for doing so. This freedom is a very good thing indeed.

    I keep recalling how I had intermittent bodily ailments and lack of sleep so frequently when he was under the same roof, and now – I can breathe again. Deliverance from abuse is a good thing indeed. And now, we must continue to sound the clarion call. Encourage those who are still in bondage. Help them and lift them up. Their voices are heard, and the Lord is close to those who call on Him.

  6. 7stelle

    I SO need this as divorce filing & proceedings loom on the horizon. I’ve worried how I will endure the atmosphere and interactions associated with a divorce not only from him, but now his “paid abuser”—his lawyer.

    Contemptuous looks towards me are the norm and I have adopted the habit of not being able to look at him very much: I don’t want this form of intimidation to affect me anymore! The times I do look straight at him have been very telling and I don’t want to miss those revelations.

    How true to FINALLY give a concrete word, ABUSE, to his attitudes & actions. I’ll never forget the first “AHA!” moments reading, “Men Who Hate Women & the Women Who Love Them”: When Loving Hurts and You Don’t Know Why by Susan Forward. Then Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That?” There are more and each book has revealed something new to me when I didn’t think it was possible.

    • Still Reforming

      7stelle,

      You wrote: “I have adopted the habit of not being able to look at him very much: I don’t want this form of intimidation to affect me anymore!”

      I do the same thing. I do the very same thing. I still cannot look at him – and I’m just recently divorced, so it’s not even like he has some kind of hold on me. I’m not sure if I can articulate why, but… I don’t like looking at him.

      Even when he speaks to me, I tend to look somewhere else and maybe acknowledge what he said or answer, but only briefly. I think I just need the space from him to breathe freely. I think that’s why I can’t look at him. I just don’t want to get that image in my brain. I’m enjoying not having him near so I don’t want to give that image any room in my life anymore. As far as I can get from his voice and presence is where I want to be, so I just won’t look at him unless I really have to.

      I think it also is a way of discouraging more words to flow from his mouth. Avoiding eye contact tends to keep the communications to an absolute minimum, which is where I want it.

      • Sunflower

        And then I got…….”You can always tell when someone is insincere, because they won’t make eye contact.”

        This all takes discernment. On the one hand, don’t throw your pearls before swine, so they don’t get trampled and you get shredded, don’t answer a fool……..then on the other hand, be courageous and speak up……. Sometimes I’m confused.

      • Still Reforming

        Sunflower,

        Anyone who says that the only reason someone won’t make eye contact is due to insincerity is shallow. There are oodles of reasons not to make eye contact. In fact, as a child my daughter wouldn’t because she has high-functioning autism. Does that make her “insincere”? Hmph. Don’t let the comments of people who don’t care enough about you to bother learning the truth get into your brain or under your skin. I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts that the folks right here on this blog care more about you than anyone who would say something so shallow. And these folks know more too. So there. (That’s spoken to the numbskulls who would say such a thing. Sorry, but they raise my dander.)

        Don’t belittle yourself or sell yourself short if you get confused by things – such as “don’t answer a fool/answer a fool”; That particular proverb is called a parallelism (I think): “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” (Proverbs 26:4-5) I remember reading those back-to-back in a book about the need for Biblical discernment – the kind only God can give. I think it was a great encouragement to me, because it meant that I could answer my husband if it made sense to do so – or not answer him if it made more sense not to. It will all depend on the circumstance. Generally, however, it became more and more clear to me that answering him wasn’t necessary because (1) he’s a fool, (2) he’s a lying fool, and (3) he’s an untrustworthy, lying fool. In the end, as now really, it makes little sense to engage him in speech of any kind, unless brief and to the point.

        The reason I say please don’t feel bad about getting confused is because on these journeys with abusers, their great masquerade depends on creating an atmosphere of confusion. They are masters at it. (And our God is not a God of confusion, so they are NOT serving Him.) It’s not your fault that you may be confused. It takes a long, long time for the fog of confusion to clear. Give yourself time and space and the grace to allow it to clear. You didn’t create the confusion – so don’t feel bad about it. Just keep tabs with those who really do love you enough to support you and encourage you and allow you to be the beautiful soul God created you to be. 🙂

    • KayE

      I stopped looking at my ex long ago.The reason was to prevent him from gaining any information from my facial expression. It proved to be a very effective strategy.

      • KayE

        Because it greatly weakened his ability to manipulate me.

      • Moving Forward

        I, too, cannot look at him. When we tried mediation the mediator sure got after me about it. How can they possibly understand that the last thing we want to do is look at our abuser, who has spent years staring at us and giving us looks that cover the range from fake puppy-dog looks to twisted faces of rage. He wants a cheap sit-in-one-room with lawyers to talk session. I would rather have a lets-all-face-the-judge session. I am conflicted on which to do, but I am trusting God will lead.

      • Hi Moving Forward, are those the two alternatives — go before the judge, or all meet in one room with your lawyers till an agreement is reached?

        What about a third option: You and your lawyer in one room, him and his lawyer in another room. The lawyers can shuttle between one room and the other with their respective client’s proposals and responses, but you never see you ex and he never sees you. The likelihood is that your ex will still refuse any agreement that you propose, but it might save you money if an agreement could be reached that was satisfactory for you. The agreement can then be stamped by the court, so it is binding. However, you would have to trust your lawyer well, for this to work.

        Note: If you did it this way, make sure that your lawyer and the staff in teh building can guarantee that you are not going to see your ex either as you arrive at the building or as you leave. Some ‘supervised access’ centres in Oz do this for DV cases, and maybe there would be some place where it could be done for you. Ask your local DV service if there is a venue where that kind of care is taken for victims of abuse.

  7. Barnabasintraining

    Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.

    You know, it’s a good thing God imparts His own strength to us in the face of these things. This is what He did to/for me. If He hadn’t, I don’t believe I could have withstood what I had to deal with in the assembly. In fact, I was told recently by someone in a position to say so that the leadership and the abuser basically blame me (I am not the victim) for the divorce and some other things that happened that were, in fact, God’s doing and God’s counsel.

    What they do not know and would never admit to is, were it not for God Himself making my face as hard as theirs and my forehead as hard as theirs I would not have been able to stand. I have no idea where on God’s Green Earth they think I got the power to do the things that I did, but I can certainly say I would NOT have had any power to stand and continue to stand if God did not supply it. The idea is just laughable. It was way too much for me. But instead God made it such that I could NOT do other than what I did — no matter how much I longed for the conflict to cease and for peace and harmony, and no matter how alone I felt and was — because He had caused me to see the truth and I was unable to deny it or act against it.

    The potential cost to me still staggers me and I thank God the only “loss” I suffered was to my reputation among that rebellious house. I thank God He delivered us out of there. I will never ever cross the threshold of that group ever again. You couldn’t pay me to go back there.

  8. Bitter But Getting Better

    Oh Barb this was wonderful. God’s Word is so powerful and covers every situation in our lives. Re: but it is sweet as honey to know the truth. It is a life changer. I was thinking this morning about how much of my life was wasted wondering what I did wrong to make people so angry with me and treat me so badly…I would obsess continually until I could find something to justify it and I would always assume it must be me. But now how sweet it is to know that it is not me.

    I just got your book and look forward to discover the wisdom within it’s pages…Thanks Barb

    • healinginhim

      BBGB – Barb’s book is precious. It took me awhile to complete as I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at such ‘truth’. I cried and had to take time to digest several chapters.
      A CRY FOR JUSTICE was another truth-teller.
      So, BBGB be prepared for healing words amidst tears. ((hugs))

      • Still Reforming

        healinginhim,

        I used to read “A Cry for Justice” on my Kindle every Sunday during the sermon in church.

        🙂

      • Bitter But Getting Better

        Thanks Healinginhim, the truth is hard to digest sometimes huh? I do a lot of art. When I get overwhelmed with the truth of it all I do a little art therapy until I am strong enough to learn more. I tried to get the A Cry For Justice Book but they only had the Kindle. It’s next on my list. Thanks again and blessings to you!

      • healinginhim

        StillReforming – such a good idea … could have used the Kindle version during my last attempts to re-enter the church to no avail:-( — they would have been horrified if I showed them what I was reading!!

      • healinginhim

        BBGB — so sorry but I bought about six copies of A CRY FOR JUSTICE when they were available. It saved on shipping because I live in a semi-remote area.
        I am also determined to give these books to those who will have them??
        I was told to keep contacting the publishers so they will realize the need for such a resource and perhaps print more in a timely manner.
        Praying for you and I totally agree with the therapy. Hoping to pursue my love of sewing and handicrafts but find the extra counseling and stress takes up much of my time. I’m so burnt out that all I can manage is very basic knitting patterns; not at all what I use to be able to create. Such is the abusive life!!

      • Still Reforming

        healinginhim,
        I knit and sew too! I love both, but after my (now ex-) anti-husband left and then stalked us, everything just stopped. I had cut out some fabric to make clothes for our child last year and then I just froze. I couldn’t sit and sew or knit or anything. My world became one of lawyers and counselors and all kinds of meetings and appointments and I had no sewing mojo. But… eventually…. I found some kind of interest in life and the things I used to like to do. Little by little, it started coming back. (My child, however, had grown and those pattern pieces no longer would fit, so I had to do some improvising, but … that’s okay. Sometimes it’s fun to think outside the box and re-engineer a bit too.) What’s good was that I learned that life didn’t stop just because I did. Those things were still waiting for me. And they’ll be there for you too. The yarn won’t rust. The thread won’t wither. The sewing machine even will wait patiently, along with the needles and patterns. Give yourself time, and when you’re ready, it will all be ready for you too. ((((((((hugs))))))))

      • Bitter But Getting Better

        Healinginhim I totally understand, when you are stressed it takes so much energy and brainpower…To do even the tiniest tasks seem like they are monumental and impossible…I’m sending tech hugs to you and prayers too!

  9. KayE

    It’s so refreshing to have this pointed out; the necessity of woe and lamentation and mourning as preparation for speaking out the truth. More often victims get told “move on”, “get over it”, “forgive and forget”. In other words, “forget all about it, pretend it never happened and leave the abusers to continue their evil”.

  10. a prodigal daughter returns

    The power of the truth spoken as a mighty cloud of witnesses hears the words cannot be imagined. The sword of the spirit in the hands of the oppressed, though timid, quiet, and trembling is a signal to the hosts of heaven to unleash on that servant, that dares speak the truth the strength of the Lion of Judah. We dare not remain silent when He says speak because he waits to fill that obedience with supernatural assistance. Perhaps experiencing and knowing about abuse, as God heals us from it is a calling to do something about it.

    Those that the world calls nothing God calls to confound the arguments of the so called wise and powerful. Creation groans and waits to see the daughters and sons of God stand up, in the power He gives them to do so and fight using the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit, resisting evil. We have been given the spirit of love, power and a sound mind, the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us. The power of the abuser is like that of an flea compared to Mt Everest. Oh if only we had eyes to see what God with us, or Emmanuel actually means.

    I’ve recently called out the hidden, swept under the rug, injustice, lies and maltreatment of a former pastor that fostered abuse in his congregation He is given the opportunity to repent, or to send a grenade of hate my direction, something he did previously when I was young and vulnerable and easily walked on Whatever his choice he will not be able to stand in front of the judgement throne and say that he wasn’t given opportunity to repent for causing the little ones to stumble. Something came over me, after decades I could no longer be silent while those he favored and didn’t mistreat sang his praises.

    Whether we see the outcome of speaking the truth in this life or not, we will see it and all of mankind will be without excuse. There are no rugs in front of the judgement throne when we meet our Maker.

    • what a call to arms, PD!

      Perhaps experiencing and knowing about abuse, as God heals us from it is a calling to do something about it.

      — that’s exactly why Jeff and I and the rest of our team run this blog. 🙂 And personally, I feel incredibly blessed that God has given me freedom from my ex-es, and arranged my situation so I don’t need to work at a paid job and I can do this work.

      • Bitter But Getting Better

        A Prodigal Daughter Returns: Amen and Amen! You preach it!!!!!

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