Ray Rice was one of the feel-good stories of the National Football League. He grew up in horrific circumstances: his father was gunned down by mistake in a drive-by shooting when Rice was one year old; 10 years later his father figure and cousin both died in a car crash. His mother taught special needs children and never let him give up on himself. Rice eventually became a Pro Bowl running back for the Baltimore Ravens, helping them win the Super Bowl just two years ago.
None of that is what people associate with Ray Rice today. Last February, he was charged with assaulting his fiancée, and the NFL suspended him for two games. When video of the assault surfaced last Monday, the Ravens terminated his contract and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.
The numbers are staggering: One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Every day in the U.S., three women are killed by their spouses. A third of women who are victims of homicide are murdered by their current or former partner.
Every year, three million children witness domestic abuse. Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults. Without help, boys who witness domestic violence are far more likely to abuse their partners and/or children as adults. Domestic violence costs more than $37 billion a year in medical and mental health treatment, legal work, law enforcement, and lost productivity.
When you read about issues like this, do you feel frustrated, wondering if there’s anything you can do to make a difference? Terrorism in the Middle East, war in Ukraine, tensions with China—today’s issues seem so large and unsolvable that it’s easier to ignore them. But ignoring cancer only lets it spread.
I’ve been reading 1 Samuel and recently came to chapter 16, one of the most ironic in Scripture. Here we find King Saul, a giant of a man and a military hero. But Saul’s continued disobedience to God’s call disqualified him for leadership. So the Lord sent his prophet Samuel to anoint a new king, directing him to the family of a man named Jesse.
The prophet was impressed with Jesse’s oldest son, but God said to him, “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (v. 7). The Lord chose none of Jesse’s seven sons, so the prophet asked if he had any others. Jesse replied that his youngest son was outside watching the sheep. When David was summoned, the Lord led Samuel to anoint him king. As he did, “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward” (v. 13).
God chose not the military giant but the neglected shepherd, and empowered him to become Israel’s greatest king. The same God will give you all you need to fulfill his Kingdom assignment for your life. But you must step by faith into his call before you can receive what he intends to give: “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10).
If you are the victim of domestic violence, seek help today by visiting thehotline.org or calling 1-800-799-7233. The advocates at National Domestic Violence Hotline are available 24/7 to offer help, support, and safety planning. If you have abused your spouse or children, get help now. Thehotline.org offers a confidential, impartial ear and assists with identifying and changing unhealthy behaviors.
If you are not involved in domestic violence, could God use your life to make a difference for those who are? To learn more, consult Safe Haven, a faith based domestic violence agency whose site provides resources for individuals and churches.
Your Lord does not call the equipped—he equips the called. What has he called you to do today?