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Home School of Suffering Joni, Suffering and Overcoming Childhood Sexual Abuse

Joni, Suffering and Overcoming Childhood Sexual Abuse

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Joni, Suffering and

Overcoming Childhood Sexual Abuse

 

Joni Eareckson Tada has never suffered sexual abuse, but she has suffered physical abuse to her body as a result of the tragic accident which left her in a wheel chair. Joni Eareckson Tada has been living with the ongoing effects on that moment in time when through no fault of her own her world changed forever. Joni Eareckson Tada is an inspiration to all women who are suffering the trauma of childhood sexual abused because she too lives with the physical and emotion scares of her trauma.

Joni can give you hope because she has learnt to rejoice in God through her pain and suffering and to lean heavily on King Jesus her strong tower and defender. Through learning to live with her trauma as a vital Christian she is being molded into His image – to be fit for heaven where there is no more pain or sorry or death. You too can begin to become like Joni if you have been sexually abused as a child come. The Lord loving says to you His precious hurting daughter or son;

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Are you a sexually abused Christian women or man? God has plans for you! To be a whole thinker who has both a future and hope. If it was true for the suffering Paul it can be true for you. On a moment by moment basis you too can know Christ’s strength in all the areas of your life through His mighty resurrection power. God not only plans for you He has brought you into relationship with Jesus to make you strong in God in the midst of you weakness that is childhood sexual abuse.

Let’s Pray

“Father God thank you that I am your child. Help me now by the power of your Holy Spirit and the Word of God to begin the healing from my sexual abuse. Oh, Father I so desperately need this more than anything. You made me and you know me better than I know myself. Father I don’t know why you allowed this terrible thing to come into my life. What I do know is that I long to be healed so I can grow in my relationship with you and your Son Jesus Christ. Thank you that Jesus died for my offenses and that he has set me free from sin. That He brought me into a new loving relationship with you. Thank for the cleansing, healing, forgiving power of the gospel. Thank you that you have made me a new thinker in Jesus and given me you’re Holy Spirit. Oh Father help me now to be very brave and honest and open to be healed and changed and grow through the abuse I suffered as a child.” Amen

Practical ideas to you get started

This is a long article so can we suggested you take a week to work through each of the four important steps to helping you overcome sexual abuse as a Christian woman or man. You may also like to ask a close Christian friend to pray for you and with you during this important time in your life. Keep a journal, so you can your thoughts, further questions you may have, helpful bible verses and teaching and what you need to do

so move forward in your healing of sexual abuse. Above all pray before each session and expect God to do amazing things in you through this special time in your life. Yes it will be painful, but God is beside you and within you. He promises to comfort you and teach you and transform

you as you proceed. So take a deep breath, pray and begin. Your life will be changed forever!

Some important questions you need to answer honestly

  1. Is my past sexual abuse affecting me now?

The harsh reality is that if this is the first time you have faced up to being sexually abused as a child, you have been living with it’s affects whether you are aware of it or not. Here are some of the effects you may be experiencing;

  • Guilt;
  • Repressed anger;
  • Depression;
  • Trust issues;
  • Fear;
  • Feelings of being “second hand”
  • Boundaries problems;
  • Role confusion;
  • Low self esteem

These can be expanded upon and separated into two broad practical categories;

Emotional Problems

Sexual Symptoms

1. Strong anger & rage that erupts suddenly

1. Lack sexual desire - inhibitions

2. Strong mood swings – From depression to hyper activity

2. Dysfunctional sexual relations

3. Deep chronic depression

3. Intercourse is painful

4. Forgotten years, months or days

4. You don’t enjoy certain sexual activity ( i.e. Oral Sex )

5. Extreme anxiety – fear or phobias

5. You are promiscuous

6. Insomnia, sleep walking, waking same time each night

6. You are attracted to your sex

7. Addiction to food, drugs, alcohol

7. You are attracted to harmful sexual activity – Pornography & Prostitution

8. Obsessive/compulsive behavior- over-eating/shopping/cleaning

8. Negative reactions to public displays of Affection – Nudity – Skimpy Dress

9. Battling with anorexia or bulimia

9. You use sexual manipulation to get what you want

10.Flashbacks & Hallucinations which seem real

10.You are addicted to sex

11. Suicidal – Self Manipulation or Substance abuse

One or several of these could be present. In reading these symptoms, you may be saying, “Yes! This is me!” At the end of this article we give a link to trained counselors who can give additional help as you work through your abuse to Christian healing and wholeness.

How can I overcome my abuse?

In this article we want to help you begin to work through four important areas sufferers of sexual abuse commonly experience. They are;

Overcoming sexual abuse, working through your grief, anger, depression and then learning to think spiritually.

Step One: Begin to work through your feelings of grief

“Grief may be called a life shaking sorrow over loss. Grief tears life to shreds, it shakes one from top to bottom. It pulls a person loose, he or she comes apart at the seems. Grief truly is nothing less than a life shattering loss.” Jay Adams

“ No one ever told me that grief feels like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning,. I keep on swallowing.” C.S Lewis - A Grief Observered

“The Bible regards grief as a very real thing. The word it uses signifies sorrow, pain or a wound. It applies namely to sorrow of soul, such as that of the disciples at the imminent death of Jesus.” Donald Howard – Christians Grieve Too

The Grief Process

Firstly Shock

It is from the time you either heard excruciating news about a friend or love one or even you own future through to being in an accident. All these may result in shock. This may result in numbness; feeling stunned, hysteria, near of actual paralysis or bewilderment.

You may want a close family member or Christian friend with you, but there is little they can say or do at this stage.

The results of shock

You may have feelings of anger or fear or quilt. This you may express to others. They may not be godly responses at the time because you defenses where down.

What the Bible says about Grief

There are some 20 Hebrew words translated in the King James Version by “grief,” “grieve,” “to be grieved,” etc. They differ, partly, in their physical origin, and partly, in the nature and cause of the feeling expressed.

We see the word express the sense of weakness, sickness, pain (e.g. Samson, in Jdg_16:7, Jdg_16:11, Jdg_16:17,

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Matthew Henry says in His commentary on this verse; “It was not only his last scene that was tragic, but his whole life was so, not only mean, but miserable,

“But one continued chain of labour, sorrow, and consuming pain.- Sir R. Blackmore

Thus, being made sin for us, he underwent the sentence sin had subjected us to, that we should eat in sorrow all the days of our life (Genesis_3:17), and thereby relaxed much of the rigour and extremity of the sentence for us. His condition was sorrowful. He was unsettled, had no where to lay his head, lived upon the goodwill of others, was opposed and menaced, and endured the contradiction of sinners against himself. His spirit was tender, and he admitted the impressions of sorrow. We never read that he laughed, but often that he wept. Grief was his intimate acquaintance; for he acquainted himself with the grievances of others, and sympathized with them, and he never set his own at a distance; for in his transfiguration he talked of his own death, and in his triumph he wept over Jerusalem. Let us look to him and mourn.”

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

“He hath put him to grief,” Literally “made him sick” “to crush him incurably”;

Keil & Delitzsch helpfully comment on this verse; “It was men who inflicted upon the Servant of God such crushing suffering, such deep sorrow; but the supreme causa efficiens in the whole was God, who made the sin of men subservient to His pleasure, His will, and predetermined counsel. The suffering of His Servant was to be to Him the way to glory, and this way of His through suffering to glory was to lead to the establishment of a church of the redeemed, which would spring from Him; in other words, it would become the commencement of that fulfilment of the divine plan of salvation which He, the ever-living, ever-working One, would carry out to completion. “

Psalm 31:10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.

Matthew Henry comments; “He was a type of Christ, - who was intimately acquainted with grief and often in tears. We may guess by David's complexion, which was ruddy and sanguine, by his genius for music, and by his daring enterprises in his early days, that his natural disposition was both cheerful and firm, that he was apt to be cheerful, and not to lay trouble to his heart; yet here we see what he is brought to: he has almost wept out his eyes, and sighed away his breath. Let those that are airy and gay take heed of running into extremes, and never set sorrow at defiance; God can find out ways to make them melancholy if they will not otherwise learn to be serious

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia gives the helpful comments on grief;

“sorrow to my pain” (Jer_45:3); ka‛aṣ implies provocation, anger, irritation; thus Hannah said to Eli (the King James Version), “Out of the abundance of my complaint and my grief (the Revised Version (British and American) “provocation”) have I spoken” (1Sa_1:16). Psa_6:7; Psa_31:9, “grief”; Pro_17:25, “A foolish son is a grief to his father” (i.e. source of provocation; the same word is rendered “wrath” in Pro_12:16, the King James Version “a fool's wrath,” the Revised Version (British and American) “vexation”; so also Pro_27:3); Job_6:2, “Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed,” the Revised Version (British and American) “Oh that my vexation were but weighed” (in Job_5:2 the King James Version the same word is translated “wrath,” the Revised Version (British and American) “vexation”); ke'ēbh, is “sorrow,” “pain,” properly “to hurt.” It occurs in Job_2:13 “His grief (the Revised Version, margin “or pain”) was very great”; also Job_16:6 the Revised Version (British and American), “grief”; makh'ōbh “sorrows,” “pain,” “suffering” (2Ch_6:29, the Revised Version (British and American) “sorrow”; Psa_69:26, the Revised Version, margin “or pain”; Isa_53:3, “a man of sorrows”; Isa_53:4, “Surely he hath carried our sorrows”); mārāh and mārar indicate “bitterness” (Gen_26:35; Gen_49:23; 1Sa_30:6; Rth_1:13; Pro_14:10, “The heart knoweth its own bitterness,” mārāh); pūḳāh implies staggering, or stumbling, only in 1Sa_25:31, “This shall be no grief unto thee,”

The Revised Version, margin Hebrew “cause of staggering”; ra‛ (a common word for “evil”) denotes an evil, a calamity, only once in the King James Version translated “grief,” namely, of Jonah's gourd, “to deliver him from his grief,” the Revised Version (British and American) “from his evil case” (Jon_4:6); yāra‛, “to be evil,” Deu_15:10, the Revised Version (British and American) “Thy heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him” (also 1Sa_1:8; Neh_2:10; Neh_13:8; several times translated “grievous”); ḥārāh, “to burn,” “to be wroth” (e.g. Gen_4:6, “Why art thou wroth?”), is translated “grieved” in Gen_45:5, and 1Sa_15:11 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) “Samuel was wroth”); the same word is often used of the kindling of anger; lā'āh, “to be weary,” “tired,” “faint” (Pro_26:15), the King James Version “The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom, it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth,” the Revised Version (British and American) “wearieth”; also Job_4:2; ‛ācabh, “to grieve,” “to be vexed,” occurs in Gen_6:6; Gen_34:7; Gen_45:5, etc.; Psa_78:40, “How oft did they ... grieve him in the desert.” Of other words sometimes translated “grief” may be mentioned ḳūṭ, “to weary of,” “to loathe” (Psa_95:10), “Forty long years was I grieved with that generation”; in Psa_119:158; Psa_139:21, the Revised Version, margin “loathe”; ḥāmēc, implying to be bitterly or violently moved, sour (often translated “leavened”), only in Psa_73:21, the Revised Version (British and American) “For my soul was grieved,” margin, Hebrew “was in a ferment.”

(2) In the New Testament “grief,” “grieve,” etc., are infrequent. The commonest words are sorrows For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 1Peter 2:19 the Revised Version (British and American) “griefs,” elsewhere translated “sorrow”; lupéō, “to grieve,” “afflict” (Mar_10:22, the Revised Version (British and American) “sorrowful”; Joh_21:17 “Peter was grieved”; Rom_14:15; 2Co_2:4, the Revised Version (British and American) “made sorry”; 2Co_2:5, “caused sorrow”; Eph_4:30, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God”); diaponéomai, literally, “to labor through,” “to grieve self” occurs twice (Act_4:2; Act_16:18 the Revised Version (British and American) “sore troubled”); stenázō, “to groan, or sigh,” once only translated “grief” (Heb_13:17), the Revised Version, margin “groaning”; prosochthízō, “to be indignant,” etc., twice (Heb_3:10, Heb_3:17, the Revised Version (British and American) “displeased”). The reference is to Psa_95:10, where the Septuagint by this Greek word translates ḳūṭ (see above).

The less frequency in the New Testament of words denoting “grief” is significant. Christ came “to comfort all that mourn - to give a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Christians, however, cannot but feel sorrow and be moved by grief, and it is to be noted that in both the Old Testament and New Testament, God Himself is said to be susceptible to grief.

Jesus and Grief

(Neh 2:2 NIV) so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart." I was very much afraid,

(Neh 2:3 NIV) but I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"

(Eccl 7:3 NIV) Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.

(Mat 19:22 NIV) When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

(Mat 26:22 NIV) They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"

(Mark 10:22 NIV) At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

(Luke 18:23 NIV) When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.

Grief

(Gen 26:35 NIV) They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.

(Gen 34:7 NIV) Now Jacob's sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were filled with grief and fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter--a thing that should not be done.

(Gen 38:12 NIV) After a long time Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.

(1 Sam 1:16 NIV) Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief."

(Est 6:12 NIV) Afterward Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief,

(Job 17:7 NIV) My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow.

(Psa 10:14 NIV) But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.

(Psa 31:9 NIV) Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.

(Psa 35:14 NIV) I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.

(Psa 88:9 NIV) my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you.

(Prov 10:1 NIV) The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.

(Prov 10:10 NIV) He who winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

(Prov 14:13 NIV) Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.

(Prov 17:21 NIV) To have a fool for a son brings grief; there is no joy for the father of a fool.

(Prov 17:25 NIV) A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him.

(Prov 29:21 NIV) If a man pampers his servant from youth, he will bring grief in the end.

(Eccl 1:18 NIV) For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

(Eccl 2:23 NIV) All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.

(Mat 17:23 NIV) They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life." And the disciples were filled with grief.

(John 16:6 NIV) Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.

(John 16:20 NIV) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

(John 16:22 NIV) So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

(1 Cor 5:2 NIV) And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?

(2 Cor 2:5 NIV) If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent--not to put it too severely.

(1 Pet 1:6 NIV) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Calvin comments on this verse; While you have had to suffer grief “ Peter means the faithful endure sorrow willingly, while the ungodly murmur and perversely contend with God. Hence the godly bear sorrow, as the tamed ox the yoke, or as a horse, broken in, the bridle, though held by a child. God by sorrow afflicts the non - Christian , as when a bridle is by force put in the mouth of a ferocious and refractory horse; he kicks and offers every resistance, but all in vain. Then Peter commends the faithful, because they willingly undergo sorrow, and not as though forced by necessity.

1 Peter 2 : 19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

Suggested reading on grief

Christians Grieve Too – Donald Howard – Banner of Truth Trust

A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis

Grief as a counseling opportunity – pg 5 – 9 Jay Adams in The Big Umbrella - Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing 1979

2. Begin to work through your feelings of anger

Anger is not necessarily Sinful

“Anger, in and of it, is not sinful. We learn this from Paul’s careful distinction between being angry and sinning: “Be angry and sin not.” (Ephesians 4:26 ). Some well meaning Christian counselors have failed to help others overcome anger in God’s way because they do not understand this fact. Take for instance the following statements: “The Bible makes it clear that anger is sin and should not be resolved”;” But we should not deny the bad effects of anger.” [1] The Bible teaches that “God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalm 7:11 ). Much is revealed about the anger and wrath of God in the scriptures. In 1 Samuel 11:6 we discover that the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Saul resulted in great anger that impelled him to carry out the work of God. And above all else, the Word of God reveals that the Lord Jesus was angry.

Not only did this anger which “ate Him up (John2:17) motivate Him to drive out the money changes from the house of God, but Mark informs us specifically that on another occasion Jesus turned on the Pharisees “in anger” (Mark 3:5 ). To call anger “damaging” or to apply James 1:20 (“the anger of which a thinker does not achieve the righteousness of God. James is not thinking of all anger, but rather of that hasty venting of your temper which Proverbs speaks about.”) Without qualification constitutes a reckless and irresponsible use of the Scriptures that unwittingly amounts to charging Jesus with sinful action when He turned on the Pharisees. This is especially clear when Narramore defines sinful anger as that anger that “is conceived the minute it is directed towards another” (p. 141). When Christ turned on the Pharisees in anger, i.e. directing His anger towards you, He sinned, according to this unbiblical conception. In contrast E. Mansell Pattison [2] is correct when he writes:

Anger [in contrast to rage], however, is a very necessary and useful reaction… Anger is appropriate as a communication of feeling in reaction to another’s behaviour.[3]

The fact is that there are no damaging or destructive emotions per se. Our emotional makeup is totally from God. All emotions of which He made us capable are constructive when used properly (i.e.; in accordance with biblical principals). Surely the anger of the Lord Jesus did not damage His body. All emotions, however, can become destructive when we fail to express you in harmony with biblical limitations and structures.[4]

Anger in suffering may become sinful

Adams is right when he says, “While Paul distinguishes between sinful anger and holy anger, he warns: “Be angry and sin not.” Righteous anger can become unrighteous anger in two ways: (1) by ventilation of anger; (2) by the internalization of anger. These two extremes are known more popularly as blowing up and clamming up. [5]

Here are some of the scriptures that talk about blowing up; (New International Version)

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. - Proverbs 29:11

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. - Proverbs 25:28

A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. – Proverbs 19:11

Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him. - Proverbs 29:20

An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. – Proverbs 29:22

A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated. – Proverbs 14:17

A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. – Proverbs 14:29

Why do we get angry?

Anger is caused by our lack of self control, the Bible says;

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. - Proverbs 25:28

John Gill says of this verse “This is the thinkers who put no restraint on their emotions. As the word signifies; no guard against you, no fence about you, to curb his curiosity, to check his pride and vanity, to restrain their wrath and anger and revenge, and keep under control their ambition and itch for glory;” Like a city whose walls are broken down “ is a thinker who has no control of themselves or their emotions gives is controlled by you, so they are exposed to the enemy of souls, Satan and are open to every sin, snare and temptation.

How to overcome your anger in suffering

The way to do this is to direct the energy form the emotion of anger at the problem, in your case; suffering rather than at thinkers. In other words we need to be solution oriented and not problem oriented. A key New Testament verse on how to overcome the desire to be angry is;

“In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27

Listen to the helpful comments of John Calvin;

Be you angry, and sin not. Whether or not the apostle had in his mind a part of the fourth Psalm is uncertain. The words used by him (ì) occur in the Greek translation, though the word, which is translated, be you angry, is considered by some to mean tremble. 150 The Hebrew verb (ragaz) signifies either to be agitated by anger, or, to tremble. As to the passage of the Psalm, the idea of trembling will be quite appropriate. “Do not choose to resemble madmen, who rush fearlessly in any direction, but let the dread of being accounted foolhardy keep you in awe.” The word sometimes signifies to strive or quarrel, as, in that instance, (Genesis 45:24 ,) “See that you fall not out by the way;” and accordingly, the Psalmist adds, “Commune with your own heart, and be still,” — abstain from furious encounters.

In my opinion, Paul merely alludes to the passage with the following view. There are three faults by which we offend God in being angry. The first is, when our anger arises from slight causes, and often from no cause whatever, or at least from private injuries or offenses. The second is, when we go beyond the proper bounds, and are hurried into intemperate excesses. The third is, when our anger, which ought to have been directed against ourselves or against sins, is turned against our brethren. Most appropriately, therefore, did Paul, when he wished to describe the proper limitation of anger, employ the well-known passage, be you angry, and sin not. We comply with this injunction, if the objects of our anger are sought, not in others, but in ourselves, — if we pour out our indignation against our own faults. With respect to others, we ought to be angry, not at their thinkers, but at their faults; nor ought we to be excited to anger by private offenses, but by zeal for the glory of the Lord. Lastly, our anger, after a reasonable time, ought to be allowed to subside, without mixing itself with the violence of worldly passions.

Let not the sun go down. It is scarcely possible, however, but that we shall sometimes give way to improper and sinful passion, — so strong is the tendency of the human mind to what is evil. Paul therefore suggests a second remedy, that we shall quickly suppress our anger, and not suffer it to gather strength by continuance. The first remedy was, be you angry, and sin not; but, as the great weakness of human nature renders this exceedingly difficult, the next is — not to cherish wrath

too long in our minds, or allow it sufficient time to become strong. He enjoins accordingly, let not the sun go down upon your wrath. If at any time we happen to be angry, let us endeavor to be appeased before the sun has set.

Neither give place ( ) to the devil. I am aware of the interpretation which some give of this passage. Erasmus, who translates it, “neither give place to the Slanderer,” shews plainly that he understood it as referring to malicious men. But I have no doubt, Paul’s intention was, to guard us against allowing Satan to take possession of our minds, and, by keeping in his hands this citadel, to do whatever he pleases. We feel every day how impossible, or, at least,

how difficult it is to cure long-continued hatred. What is the cause of this, but that, instead of resisting the devil, we yield up to him the possession of our heart? Before the poison of hatred has found its way into the heart, anger must be thoroughly dislodged. [6]

 

Problem

This is how it looks in practice

Suffering

 

Others Yourself

Anger

Overcoming Anger God’s way

Learn to be solution focused not Suffering focused

When we are suffering the temptation is to talk about it, feel sorry for ourselves and maybe blame others or even God. We need with God’s help by the power of His Holy Spirit and God’s grace to use the energy from our anger to be focused upon the solution to our suffer. This energy will be wasted if it is directed towards others or God.

How do I then redirect my anger at my present suffering? How do I stop this anger I have from turning in on me so I harbor resentment and bitterness?

If I am the type of thinker that blows up I need to learn to do what God says in Proverbs 29:11 ;

“A fool vents his anger

But a wise man keeps himself under control.”

John Gill says;

“A fool utters all his mind,” At once; tells all he knows, all that is in his breast; whatever he thinks, and all that he intends to do; what

or whom he loves or hates. Or, “a fool brings out all his wrath”; so the Targum, Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions: he cannot restrain it, nor

hide it; it breaks out at once, even all of it, and is soon known, as in Proverbs 12:16 ); “but a wise [man] keeps it in till afterwards,” reserves his mind, and thoughts, and designs, to himself; and does not discover you until a proper opportunity offers, when to disclose you is most to advantage; or

he restrains his wrath and anger, defers showing it to a proper time, when it may answer a better purpose, and he may do it without sin.

Proverbs is plain

A work sheet to help you overcoming anger in your sexual abuse

Emotional

Biblical Principal

Problem Focused

All things are working for my eternal good

Romans 8:18-39

Direct anger at trusting God & being content

All things are working for my eternal good

Romans 8:18-39

Direct Anger thru grief, trust God, seek counsel & friendship

Sexual

All things are working for my eternal good

Romans 8:18-39

Direct Anger thru grief, trust God, seek counsel & friendship

All things are working for my eternal good

Romans 8:18-39

Direct anger at trusting God & being content Spend 40hrs a week seeking work

Rejoice & be glad – Matthew 5:11-12

Direct anger by praying for grace to love and do your enemy good

All things are working for my eternal good

Direct anger at trusting God & being content

Oval: Suffering

 

I am indebted to the excellent material on anger by J.E.Adams in “The Christian Counselors Manual.”

Sinful way of responding to suffering

Clamming Up

(Internalization)

Energies released towards self

 

iii. Begin to work through your feelings of depression

What is Depression?

Do you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning? If you have responsibilities for other family members, do you let you slip? Are you becoming indecisive and forgetful? Do you feel like not laughing anymore? Has food lost its taste and if you are married has sex lost its appeal? Do you seem to be withdrawing into a shell, not wanting to be bothered by family or friends? Have you lost your desire to talk on the phone or go to social gatherings you used to enjoy? Are you starting to stop seeing people?

Do you find it difficult to sleep at night? Do you wake in the middle of the night and trash around until dawn, bothered by negative and gloomy thoughts? Would you like to sleep 16 hours a day or take frequent naps? And if you do, do you still feel exhausted? Are you thoughts filled with a sense of hopelessness? Do you feel there is no way out of your circumstances? Do you feel no one cares about you, and you don’t care about yourself? Do you lack positive feelings about yourself? Do you feel there is a dark thundercloud hanging over your head following you wherever you go?

Have you noticed changes physically? Do you have a number of new, vague aches and pains? Do you suspect that you have some serious disease?

Who is at risk of depression?

1. Women are at greater risk than men.

2. If you are between the ages of 18-44 you are at greater risk than older people.

3. If you are separated or divorced or never married you are at greater risk than married couples. But an unhappy marriage can be a major cause of depression.

4. If you are in a lower socioeconomic group you are more likely to present depressive symptoms.

5. If you have a history of depression in your family, hereditary factors may predispose you to depression.

6. Failure to do your house work, disorder at home or work, slackening of your interest, being a loner, those who lose their appetite or eat excessively, you harbor bitterness, have trouble with people, make excuses or lie.

Downward Spiral

Problems get bigger

 

What does Depression look like?

 

Bad Feeling

 

In December of 1998 this writer suffered a “nervous breakdown.” The whole experience was precipitated by unresolved problems, a number of years in a very legalistic church and overwork in ministry and secular studies. It was only through the wonderful help of loving Christian friends, counseling and medication that I emerged from this dark trauma.

It was through the loving commitment of friends and the work of God’s Spirit taking the word of God that started me on the road to recovery. It was the same in Joni’s story. It is imperative you seek help, preferably from close loving friends or family. The problem is depression, which is really an illness of the brain often carries and unhealthy stigma to it and is poorly understood.

Spiritual depression and how to overcome it.

Spiritual depression is invariably linked to a physical condition in your body. Typical causes are overwork, prolonged illness, and a life threatening disease or some great loss or bereavement. Other reasons why we can become spiritually depressed are 1. A loss of the sense of God’s presence. 2. A lack of spiritual strength in fighting the world, our flesh and the Devil. 3. A lack of assurance that we are Christian or fears about the future i.e. if I where to die tonight and God was to say to me, “Why should I let you into my heaven.” What would you say?

[An answer that you have done something or are someone shows you are not a Christian. But an answer that says you are trusting only in Jesus Christ and what He has done in His death for your sins on the cross so as to bring you into new relationship with God indicates you are His disciple, and therefore a Christian.]

We become spiritually depressed because God is in control of our lives and He has a good and loving plan for us that only spiritual depression will accomplish.

But what good, you say could possibly come from God allowing me to become spiritually so down?

The answer is that through this depression I learn to become dependant on God by trusting Him and leaning on His Son Jesus Christ. Through this God develops in you the graces of faith, humility, knowing your God’s child, prayer and the fear of God.

Another reason we may be spiritually depressed is because we have neglected basic spiritual disciplines like regularly reading and studying God’s Word, private prayer,

Living a holy life, having a false confidence we are Christian and being proud. This results in the Holy Spirit being grieved and quenched; so we no longer enjoy God’s presence.

We must never forget that behind our spiritual depression is the Devil as Job chapter 1 teaches us. He uses worldly reasoning about the Bible, God, our autonomy and grace. He also uses a guilty conscience and our emotions

We overcome spiritual depression when with the help of God’s Holy Spirit we fly to God through looking on Jesus Christ. This means we trust Christ for everything in our lives, we trust God is working out His good plan for our life through this dark time. We trust God’s promises; Psalm 1 , Romans 8 , John 14-16 , 2 Corinthians 4 , John 6 .

We need to be sorrow for our sins, but this must be balanced. Being overly sorry for my sins is as wrong as having little regard for my sins. Finally we must actively praise God for who He is and my union and communion with Jesus Christ because He has made me righteous. On the basis that I am right with God, forgiven and His adopted child possessed and gift with His Holy Spirit I can do the “first works” because I have returned to “my first love,” the Lord Jesus Christ.

How to overcome spiritual depression – Cain a case study in mild depression

“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

Genesis 4:3-7

Why we become spiritually depressed v3

How it looks in practice – cause & cure

Why you’ve become depressed

How to overcome depression God’s way

Don’t handle problems God’s way – Genesis 4:3

Change your behaviour and do what is right

You respond wrongly to your problems – Genesis 4:5

Focus your anger on the problem – doing the right thing despite your feelings

V7 “If you do well, will you not be accepted.” Genesis 4:7

Step Four: Begin to learn to cultivate spiritual thinking

The Apostle Paul gives a wonderful promise in Romans 8 verse six; “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

As a suffering of sexual abuse your recovery from it will not be complete without learning to think new thoughts. For the Christian learning to think God’s thoughts after Him assists in the renewal of our minds. In tackling the whole subject of Christianizing our minds, let’s consider spiritual thinking or Spiritual mindedness. We have heard people say; “ Some people are son heavenly minded they are no earthly use.” But I believe it could be said of some Christians; “They are so earthy minded that they are of no heavenly use.”

In this subject of thinking spiritually it’s important to remember that the Holy Spirit is like an eye surgeon who opens our eyes so we can see and so understand God’s Word. In the Word we see God and Christ and heaven. He not only opens our eyes but keeps them open. We must do our part, applying the eye drops of God’s Word and using the means He’s provided. Only then will we be able to begin to think spiritually.

“But to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8: vi

God says you and I are to think spiritually. This is an important part of what it means to be a Christian. How are we to do this? Here are some suggestions from God’s Word.

  1. What is the meaning of our text?
  2. What spiritual thinking is not
  3. What are hindrances to spiritual thinking?
  4. Why are you to think spiritually?
  5. What then is spiritual thinking?

6. What are some strategies to thinking spiritually?

1. What is the meaning of our text?

It’s important to notice that the writer of this letter is suing a similar statement to another letter. In Colossians iii:1 “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” What Paul commands is that you focus your mind by intellectually regarding and meditating on heavenly truths and realities.

The N.I.V has an excellent translation of our text, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” It literally means you are either minding the things of the flesh or minding the things of the Spirit. You are either a carnal or fleshly person or you are spiritually minded controlled by the Spirit. Depending on our thinking the fruit of it will either be death or life and peace. We are either carnally minded or spiritually minded.

Lets look firstly at carnal or fleshly thinking.

Verse 1 “…they walk according to the flesh.”

Verse 5 “…they set their minds on the things of the flesh.”

Verse 8 “…those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

What is the fruit of sinful thinking and therefore sinful living?

Verse xiii For if you live according to the flesh you will die…” We need to ask ourselves is this a picture of my thinking,

it is carnal and fleshly? Or am I spiritually minded and controlled by the spirit v5 “But those who according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

In the context of our text the author is writing about what life in the spirit will look like for Christians. If you have been born again or regenerated by the Holy Spirit you are a Christian. You have experienced the work of God’s Spirit changing you. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John iii:vi This is the powerful life of the Spirit within you enabling you to live for God.

2. What spiritual thinking is not

It is not outward things like Hearing the preaching of God’s Word

It is not outward things like praying to God

What are some hindrances to spiritual thinking?

There are real hindrances we face in seeking to think spiritually. As Christians we are constantly at war with the world, the flesh and the Devil. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. “ Ephesians vi:11

  1. Being worldly is a hindrance to spiritual thinking.

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4 “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” 1John 2:15 “For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world.” 1John 2:16

To summarize

Being a friend of the world means you’re an enemy of God

You can’t love the world or it’s things

The desires of the flesh, eyes and pride of possessions is from the world

  1. Being fleshly is a hindrance to spiritual thinking.

Rom 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…

Rom 8:6 To set the mind on the flesh is death…

Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.

Rom 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

To summarize

Living according to the flesh is because you think that way which leads to death, hostility to God, not submitting to God’s law or being able to please God.

  1. Other things that can hinder spiritual thinking

· Unconfessed sin to God will hinder spiritual thinking because we out of relationship with God and are guilty. We need to confess our sin and receive Christ’s forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

· Evil thoughts will hinder spiritual thinking. “How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you.” Jeremiah iv:xiv

Planning to commit sin will hinder spiritual thinking. Cf. “Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand.” Micah 2:1

· Committing adultery with your eyes will hinder spiritual thinking. "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

· Thinking of your self to highly will hinder spiritual thinking. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3

· Take great care what you watch you see on television, what DVD’s you watch, on the Internet, in magazines, in life

· Take great care what you watch read: Books, magazines – avoid material that contains adulterous behaviour and pornography.

In all the above it is important to know yourself and the particular weakness of the flesh, what company corrupts you and what circumstances you should avoid.

4. Why are you to think spiritually?

  1. Because God commands you to;

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

  1. Because setting you mind on heaven will prepare you for being there

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1

“For unless the affections are set on them, they will never be sought after in a proper manner. The word signifies to mind them, and think on them, to favour and approve of them, to be affectionately desirous of them, and concerned for them; for where the treasure is, the heart should be; and as the saints' best things are above, their minds and affections should be there likewise; their contemplation should be on those things, and their conversation should be in heaven; nor should they regard anything but what is there, or comes from thence, for they belong not to this world, but to another and better country: their citizenship is in heaven, and there, in a short time, they must have their everlasting residence; and therefore should seek after, and highly prize and value heavenly things, and set their affections on them.” John Gill on Colossians 3: 1a

  1. Because by it you are being transformed into the image of Christ;

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29

5. What then is spiritual thinking?

It is both the activity of God and man where by your mind is changed and renewed by the work of the Holy Spirit so you are continually acting and influenced by thoughts of spiritual things, resulting in your experiencing the life and peace of God.

6. What are some strategies to thinking spiritually?

Repent of unspiritual thinking

Often our thoughts are not focused on spiritual realities like the gospel and our position in Christ. You may be prone to daydreaming or sexual fantasying. These need to be repented of and put off. Cf. “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph 4 : 23-24

Pray for the Spirit’s help

Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you learn to think spiritually. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. . 1Jo 5:14-15

Ask Christ to give you spiritual understanding into you inheritance in Christ & his saving work.

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:16-23

Use the private means God has provided

Personal prayer, mediating and study of God's Word, and self examination.

Meditate on these things;

1. Meditate on God’s Word

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

2. Meditate on Christ – some examples

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:3-5

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,

he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,

Colossian 1:13-15

3. Meditate on God

We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. Psalm 48:9

4. Medtiate on Heaven

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2

Start to include spiritual thinking in your daily routine

Obviously we have many responsibilities during the day which require the use of our minds. But also there are times when we are free to think our own thoughts.These are ideal opportunities to engage in spiritual thinking. They can range from driving in the car to going for a walk. You may even want to set aside a regular part of your daily schedule for spiritual thinking, mediating on a gospel reality like Christ’s intercession for His church.

If you aren’t a Christian, how are you to respond?

But maybe you don’t know this life of spiritual thinking and all you know is that your heart is so wicked and your flesh so weak that you are continually living in rebellion to God. Then cry out to God now to change you. Meditate on the gospel and the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “…As a man thinks, so he is.” Proverbs 2: iii:7

Confess your sins to God, turn away from them in godly sorrow and cling to Jesus Christ as the only sacrifice for your sins and the one who soaks up the wrath your deserve for your sins. Then you will know your sins are forgiven and a new peace and a new power filling your mind with spiritual light, wisdom and knowledge. Cry to God now, He is calling you to surrender and become His child.

The author has received much help in preparing this study from Spiritual Thinking – John Owen, an abridgement by John Appleby, Grace Publications Trust 1989, London - available from Evangelical Press

The unabridged version is On Spiritual Mindedness, Vol 7 in the works of John Owen available from the Banner of Truth Trust

If you are suffering from sexual abuse we strongly encourage you to seek Christian counseling from a trained and accredited Christian Counsellor.

 

Foot Notes

[1] Bruce Narramore, Help! I’m a Parent (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972). P. 50 Narramore gives a nod to the possibility of “righteous indignation” (p. 138) but fails utterly to explain how a Christian’s indigation can be righteous. Indeed, what he says about anger seems to preclude any genuine possibility for righteous anger.

[2] E. Mansell Pattison, “Pyschology,” in Robert Smith, ed., Christ and the Modern Mind (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1972),

p. 196.

[3] E. Mansell Pattison, “Psychology,” in Robert Smith, ed., Christ and the Modern Mind (Downer Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1972). P.196.

[4] J.E.Adams, The Christian Counselors Manuel ( Nutley PA Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1973). P. 348-349

5] cf. The Christian Counselor’s Manuel, pp. 349

[6] John Calvin Commentary on Ephesians ( Sovereign Grace Library, USA) pg 279



[1] Bruce Narramore, Help! I’m a Parent (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972). P. 50 Narramore gives a nod to the possibility of “righteous indignation” (p. 138) but fails utterly to explain how a Christian’s indigation can be righteous. Indeed, what he says about anger seems to preclude any genuine possibility for righteous anger.

[2] E. Mansell Pattison, “Pyschology,” in Robert Smith, ed., Christ and the Modern Mind (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1972), p. 196.

[3] E. Mansell Pattison, “Psychology,” in Robert Smith, ed., Christ and the Modern Mind (Downer Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1972). P.196.

[4] J.E.Adams, The Christian Counselors Manuel ( Nutley PA Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1973). P. 348-349

[5] cf. The Christian Counselor’s Manuel, pp. 349

[6] John Calvin Commentary on Ephesians ( Sovereign Grace Library, USA) pg 279???

 

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