Tears in a Bottle

Psalm 56 was crucial to me during my recovery and now it is a part of one of the sessions in the Always Hopeful Recovery programme

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

All day long they injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk;
they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.

For their crime will they escape?
In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

I must perform my vows to you, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
(Psalm 56)

God has put this psalm in front of me a lot recently, whenever my abuser has been particularly nasty, and I’ve found it really helpful. David describes feeling like someone is utterly out to hurt him and cause him harm, that they spend all day plotting against him; watching him, waiting for their opportunity to cause him to suffer. He wonders if they will escape justice and get away with their crime. I think all abused women can relate to these feelings, I know I can.

But he goes on to tell us we are not alone in our suffering, it’s not going unnoticed,
God is on the side of the abused. How beautiful a picture he paints of God putting our tears in a bottle. God counts all the hurts we suffer he knows every single pain we feel and tear we shed, and he stands with us in that pain. I’m lucky I have a wonderful family who know when to just stand and hug me, and God’s like that, he stands with us, he holds us, he cares. What more do we need in our pain than the support of a loving father and Almighty God?

But more than this, David tells us three times to trust God. I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to lean on my own ability to defend myself when I feel cornered. I am impulsive and during this time so many ways I could get revenge or fight back cross my mind. But I’m learning not to impulsively take action based on my own sense of injustice. Rather I try to give the matter to God, to talk to God about what I feel I should do and wait a while before I act. I’m learning to trust God with the situation. Sometimes it feels like the abuser will escape justice, like we aren’t doing enough to stop them, but we need to trust God, he’s got our back.

We’re also told to praise God. It’s difficult to praise God when we hurt, we’re so consumed by our pain, or by what is happening to us we tend to go to God with a list of problems. But it’s good to know that whatever happens God is unchanging. He is God. God deserves our praise whatever our life circumstances. And it is when we ‘delight ourselves in the Lord that he will give us the desires of our heart’ (Psalm 37 3-5)

Finally we’re assured of the win. Now bear in mind this might not look how we expect it to, but ultimately we’re asked “what can man do to me?” now think about it…what can he do? There’s a lot an abuser can do to harm us physically, financially, even emotionally but ultimately nothing can separate you from the love of God, you’re under his protection and nothing that actually matters in the grand scheme of things can be taken from you. Abusers sap our freedoms, even when we leave they keep control over us, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It may seem that they have the power but they don’t. God does, and we’re assured that if we trust in Him, praise Him and remain faithful to him we’ll be able to “Walk before God in the Light of Life” and for me this is the pinnacle of my triumph over abuse, because I have stepped out from the dark shadowy place he kept me in and now I walk in the light of life, and he can’t take that from me.