“How can we trust God while experiencing abusive situations? When Christians are being abused, and they pray for it to stop, but it doesn’t, how are they supposed to trust that God really has their best interest at heart, or even cares about them?”
As far back as I can remember while I was growing up, my dad struggled with alcohol. I deeply desired for my daddy to be sober. My mama took my brother and me to church every time the doors were opened, and our dad stayed behind. Since I hated being at home, I stayed away most weekends.
I remember my mama picking me up from time to time at my friend’s house and suggesting that when I got home I go straight to my room, that my dad had been drinking. I knew that meant things weren’t good at home, so I would do just as she suggested and make a beeline for my bedroom. It’s important to note that my daddy never was abusive toward us, but there are memories from my childhood I wish could be erased, and many things I wish I had not heard.
I remember agreeing in prayer with my grandma, my great-grandma, my mama, my aunts, and close family friends for my daddy and our family to be freed from the strain that alcohol put on our home, as well as begging my daddy and my grandpa to join our family in church, and weeping while asking Daddy to quit drinking. I remember saying, “If you love me you will come. If you love me you will stop.” Looking back, I bet he thought his eight-year-old was crazy. I will never forget a family member telling me as a young girl, “I know your daddy loves you, but it’s not as much as he loves his beer.” Those are words you cannot erase. As I grew up, I would occasionally continue to pray for my dad, but not as much as I should have.
I quickly began to resent my dad for not loving me enough, and God for not hearing the cries of my entire family. During my junior year of high school I fell sick and started to suffer from anxiety and depression. After fighting infectious mono for six months, and not understanding the severity of my anxiety and depression, I was admitted to a hospital for treatment.
I had always been known as someone who had no problem vocalizing problems, but at 16 years old I could not tell you what was wrong with me. Three nights into my stay at the hospital, I had a nightmare. I dreamt that I had been drinking my father’s alcohol and was vomiting profusely. The next day I had an assignment from counselors to draw a family photo. Only God would have known how art played a role in my life as an escape. I drew without words the secret struggles that my family had been enduring for many years. What my brain and mouth had stopped acknowledging, my heart easily communicated through my hands.
I felt isolated in my family struggles until a few years back, when I began to dig in God’s word rather than being spoon-fed by my pastor on Sunday mornings. One man’s life that I identified with was Joseph, the son of Jacob. Joseph, along with many other men and women in the Bible, had a jacked-up home life. He had been born of Jacob’s favorite wife, and God had found favor with him and given him the gift of dream interpretation.
Joseph’s brothers burned with hatred for him because of the favoritism his father displayed. His brothers staged his death and threw him into slavery. While enslaved in Egypt, he began working for one of Pharaoh’s officials, named Potiphar. He then found favor to the point where he was appointed head of Potiphar’s house. Potiphar’s wife begged him to lie with her, and upon his refusal she turned the situation around. Potiphar sent Joseph to jail, where he again found God’s favor, and used his ability to interpret dreams for some of Pharaoh’s officials who were jailed with him.
Two years later, Pharaoh had a dream that could not be understood by any of the interpreters and magicians in Egypt. One of the officials who had been jailed with Joseph recommended that Pharaoh send for him. He took the official’s advice, and Joseph not only accurately discerned the meaning of Pharaoh’s dream, but was appointed head of Egypt. All Egyptians were decreed to submit to his leadership. (Genesis 37:39-50)
David was known as a man after God’s own heart, yet his home life was marred by suffering when one of his sons, Amnon, raped his half-sister, Tamar. Her brother Absalom’s revenge against Amnon, and David’s complacency, tore David’s kingdom in two and resulted in Absalom’s death (2 Samuel 13-18).
We get just a brief glimpse of what Joseph and David lived through. Don’t you know they prayed? Do you not think they too would have hoped for a different outcome?
I believe Joseph begged to be delivered from captivity. I believe David prayed for his children to abhor sin. I believe they prayed for the hearts of those who wronged them to be awakened to repentance. God never intended for these things to be, but they were a result of what man chose in the Garden in Genesis 3. David’s kingdom and household were torn apart because Absalom refused to allow the Lord to heal his heart. He held on to un-forgiveness, which brewed hate and turned his heart bitter. Bitterness has been described as drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Joseph’s response was forgiveness, which led to healing, and he said to his brothers as they fell at his feet in Genesis 50:20:
The road to forgiveness is not always easy. #AskGodToday Click To Tweet
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
The road to forgiveness is not always easy. Forgiveness does not require something from someone else, and it does not mean we have to see the abuser again. It is something God provides when we let go of our offense and our rights to get revenge. Sometimes the Lord gives us people to walk with us through that hurt. He gave me two ladies who have loved me, walked with me, and prayed for me while discipling me. One of my “mom-entors” told me, “Sometimes you got to feel it to heal it.” It is not easy to feel it, but Paul encourages us in Romans 8:18:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
God answered my childhood prayer when I was 18. He delivered my daddy from the chains of alcohol. I asked him several months ago, after eight years of freedom, what allowed him to finally let go of it. He just pointed up.
During my week-long hospital stay for treatment from depression and anxiety, God used me to minister to youths from all over my state who struggled with addiction, depression, and anxiety, and some who were in DSS custody with no support system. My suffering was not meaningless. In the midst of my own pain, God was using me to show others Jesus in a place where there was very little hope. Joseph’s captivity did not last forever, and neither did mine. Just like Paul wrote, my momentary suffering was nothing compared with what Christ was doing in me.
You never know how your suffering will impact others for Jesus’ name’s sake. Keep going and keep praying.
If you are being abused or know of anyone who is in an abusive situation, please contact your local authorities, professionals, and church leaders for help. It is never God’s desire for you to suffer through emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, and you did not do anything to deserve this mistreatment. If you have been a victim of abuse in the past, I strongly suggest you seek sound biblical counsel from another believer.
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