Lie Number Two: I must stay in my abusive marriage because, as a Christian, God calls me to endure suffering.
One day I made the mistake of telling my husband that I felt humiliated when he screamed in my face during our walk along the crowded boardwalk. On the ride home I was punished for my mistake. I clutched the sides of my seat as he vented his rage toward me through reckless driving. Swerving in and out of traffic at high speeds. Threatening to drive us off of the road or crash us into a utility pole. Slamming on the brakes so that the seatbelt cut into my chest – all the while scolding me – “is this what you want!?” When I got home I went to my room and closed the door. I curled up in a ball on my bed and I prayed that he would just let me alone instead of continuing to rage against me as was the usual custom. The tears began to roll and I cried out to God. “I don’t think I can do this anymore.” That is when the lying spirits went to work. “Doesn’t God say to be patient in suffering? Doesn’t his word say to endure hardship as discipline? You know you will be blessed for persevering under trial. That is your calling as a Christian.” So despite the fact that I had just been terrified and traumatized by the man who vowed to love and cherish me, instead of reaching out to my sister, a friend, or the local shelter for battered women, I resolved to be the very best Christian I could be. I was going to obey God and suffer terror and trauma with patience and endurance.
If this scenario is familiar to you get ready to have your mind blown by a revelation that is going to change your life: Suffering and evil are not the same thing. Because they are not the same thing, we are called to respond differently to each one. We are called to endure suffering, but we are called to take a stand against evil.
Suffering can come in the form of things like an illness, financial hardship, or the death of a loved one. These things are not inherently evil. Because we are living in a fallen world cursed by sin, these types of sufferings are a part of the life of every human being. When we suffer in this way we are called to keep our eyes on Jesus, and to trust God (see Hebrews 12:1-3). There is another form of suffering, and that is suffering for the sake of Christ. This is the type of suffering that the apostle Paul was referring to when he wrote many of his powerful charges to endure. The other word for this type of suffering is persecution. “You however, know all about my teachings, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love and endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:11. Paul was beaten, imprisoned, and brought to trial because he refused to stop preaching the gospel. This is suffering for the sake of Christ, and if persecuted for our faith we are called to endure patiently just like Paul did, knowing we will receive the crown of life when we meet Jesus face to face.
A man’s violence against his wife is not a natural suffering or suffering for the sake of Christ. Rather, It is evil.
One of the tenets of Christianity is that we as humans live in a world of opposing forces – good versus evil. God is good. Angels are good. Love is good. Peace is good. Forgiveness is good. Satan is evil. Demons are evil. Hatred is evil. Murder is evil. Rage is evil. When we make a decision to give our lives to Jesus we align ourselves with good and we automatically become an opponent of evil. We enter the battle whether we like it or not. That is why Paul instructs us through the Holy Spirit to put on the armor of God. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Romans 12:21 tells us “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If we are take a stand against evil and to overcome it, we can neither tolerate it nor accept it as an unavoidable reality in our lives. According to 1 Peter 5:8 we are to “Be alert and of sober mind.” Why? Because our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. The devil is real and he hates you and me. He is the author of all evil and he came to kill, steal, and destroy. He would love for you to be one of the three women in the United States that are killed every day by their spouses or intimate partners (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013). He would be thrilled if the continued battering led to you committing suicide. That outcome would be even better and could result in even more destruction for future generations. Rape, physical battering, intimidation, control, psychological battering – these evils originate with him and when we decide to “endure” we are actually believing lies that his dark forces are whispering into our ears, so that his evil plan for our destruction may be fulfilled.
I first received this revelation midway through what I call my “journey out of the darkness.” I read a book called The Spiritual Man, by Watchman Nee, which was written in 1928. (Isn’t it just like the Holy Spirit to use the writings of a twenty-five year old Chinese evangelist to speak into the life of a battered American woman more than eighty years later?) He suggests that oftentimes we mistake evil for suffering and therefore we fail to stand against the evil that God has called us to stand against. If you are being abused you are being confronted by evil, and it is time to take a stand. How? Run. Run straight into the arms of your loving heavenly father, and don’t stop there. In his power and anointing, you keep running. Run to a family member. Run to a friend. Run to a shelter. Run to anyone who will stand by you and help to keep you safe.
In his book Mr. Nee suggests a spiritual practice that I have adopted and use daily. It has been a great help to me that is why I am going to share it here. Each morning during my prayer time I make a proclamation – out loud. “Holy Spirit, I say yes to you. I may not know exactly what your will is for my life but I partner with that will. I submit to you, and you alone. With my free will I choose your path for my life.” And then I place my hands on my hips, put my stern face on, and I square my shoulders so that the devil knows I am serious. “Evil spirit – I rebuke you in the name of Jesus! I refuse to have anything to do with your will for my life. I am putting you on notice right now that I have authority over you in the name of Jesus. Never again will I partner with your evil will for my life. Jesus defeated you at the cross and you are defeated in my life today.”
I encourage you to take a stand against the evil of abuse in your life. You do not have to accept violence against you as an unavoidable reality. No more believing lies that come from an evil spirit who wants you dead. It’s time to stand up to evil in the mighty name of Jesus. I pray that the Spirit of revelation will open your heart and mind to the truths that I have written so that you can be set free from the evil of abuse.