“I cried every night. I was totally alone. I worried about what would happen to me and the other girls every day. Days never got shorter. Days turned into nights. Nights turned into days. Years turned into eternity.
He tormented me...” the diminutive woman said, wiping away tears, pausing to catch her breath, as she spoke of the 11 years she was held captive and tortured. And then she addressed her tormentor:
“You took 11 years of my life away, and I have got it back.
I spent 11 years in hell, and now your hell is just beginning …
I will overcome all this that happened, but you will face hell for eternity.
From this moment on, I will not let you define me or affect who I am. I will live on … you will die a little every day.
I can forgive you, but I will never forget. With the guidance of God, I will prevail and help others who have suffered at the hands of others…”1
It appears that most of Miss Knight’s physical bruises have healed, and she is going back to a healthy weight after having been starved for so long. But seriously—how can she say to her depraved captor, “I can forgive you”? How can she possibly bring to pass her declaration to him, “From this moment on, I will not let you define me or affect who I am”? Miss Knight supplied the answer herself: with the guidance of God. In fact, she said, “I will prevail and help others who have suffered” as well. Most amazing.
Of course, she has been in counseling and intense therapy, but that is not what she said would enable her to no longer be victim in her mind. Miss Knight said, “With the guidance of God, I will prevail…” Yes, Miss Knight...truly.
As Paul segues to the close of the Ephesian letter, he writes, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6.10 “Be strong, fellow believers!” Indeed, it was a time of great persecution for the young Christian church, under the heavy hand of Rome. Not only would new Christ followers face scorn and rejection from Jewish friends and family members, there would be Roman soldiers and officials, suspicious of sedition, who would mistreat them in various ways. They needed God to hear them, and answer their prayers for food, clothing, protection, and grant them peace of mind—freedom from their fear.
Friend, for most of us, it is not relief from persecution or food and shelter we lack, rather we need the power of God to bring freedom to our minds. When we are made new by our relationship with Christ, we are given access to his mighty power which alone can overcome evil (such as Miss Knight has endured), not just evil, but fear, grief, anxiety, even guilt. Godly counseling is good, but the healing balm of God’s compassionate Spirit flowing through our minds is without equal, and beyond compare. Oh, how we need the Spirit of God to renew our thinking, and give us transformed minds! Struggling with anxiety? 'Mind plagued by fears? Time to stand on some truth.
You cannot choose to stop thinking about something by dint of your will—usually. If I tell you, ‘hey stop thinking about chocolate!’ Chances are, you are going to obsess about chocolate… Rather, the best way to change poor thinking is to replace it with good and right thinking. I submit to you that the best way to become an overcomer in your mind is by focusing on God’s truths.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power,” Paul wrote. Need some more truth upon which to stand? How about these words from the Old Bible as my mama called it? “Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.”2 [some of you need to write this out and carry it with you, memorize it.]
Why is this verse valuable? Consider its truth: God is with you, and will not leave you alone. But I can hear some of you say, ‘what about Miss Knight? Where was God?’ This only I know … Jesus did not leave her. He was there, and he has been there himself. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.”3
Pray with me: “Oh God, how we need you. How we need you to remind us of how you love us, and again remind us also that (with regard to Miss Knight or others who have been wronged), ‘vengeance is yours and you will repay’.4 All things we may leave in your more-than-capable hands. We need your power, O God, to have healthy, whole and holy minds. Amen.”
Listen: You Say, Lauren Daigle, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaT8Jl2zpI
1 Capture of Ariel Castro, https://www.newsweek.com/2015/09/11/michelle-knight-survival-ariel-castro-captivity-368058.html
2 Deuteronomy 31.6
3 Hebrews 4.15
4 Romans 12.19