Are we testing God when we submit to abuse?
A guest blog from one of our readers.
Matthew 4:5-7, Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will give His angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’
Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”
I heard this preached this week — the story about Satan and his attempts to lure Christ into his agenda and deceive Him.
After taking him to the pinnacle of the Temple, Satan tells Jesus that He should throw Himself down if He is really the Son of God, because God has said that he will protect Jesus and command His angels concerning Him that they will bear Him up, lest He strike His foot against a stone. Jesus replies to Satan, that it is written in the Word of God, that you should not put the Lord your God to the test.
Sitting in the pew, I suddenly remember all the people who have said or insinuated to me that a person should not flee abuse, but rather should realize that God has put them in that situation and that even if they should die at the hands of their abuser, it is God’s will for it to end that way. They should just “trust God” to protect them, because He promises to protect His own.
Two things come glaringly back at me as my mind processes the message here. One is that those statements made to me are eerily like the statements Satan made to Christ.
“Oh! Don’t worry Jesus, God will take care of You, IF You are really His Son. He promises to, so just throw yourself off the Temple. Everything will be okay.”
“Oh! Don’t worry, abuse victim. God will take care of you, if you are really His. He promises to, so just stay where you are and take the abuse and love the abuser back. Everything will be okay, because even if he kills you, IF you are really God’s, you will be with Him and that will be grand. All your problems will be over then.”
The second thing that stands out to me is the response of the King of Kings, God Himself, as He tells Satan to stop doing what he does best, lying. He tells him that He’s got his number and that even though Scriptures are being used to cause Jesus to doubt, He stands firm against the false and deceitful interpretation of those Scriptures, and clings to the truth — God does not want Jesus to purposely place Himself in danger and devalue His life or risk losing His life, before the appointed time. He has a divine appointment in His future and plans to be here for it. That is His purpose.
Suddenly, that “flash of light” comes to me and I realize that in the simplicity of this text God is desiring to tell me something about my own and many others’ situations. I come away with the clear, unadulterated truth from God’s Word, and it is this:– When I devalue my life and allow someone, anyone, to abuse me, I may be testing God. God gave me a brain, and there is something desperately wrong with not trying to protect oneself from abuse, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, financial, spiritual or sexual. We are not to put God to the test in our lives by trying to be a hero or testing God to find out if we are His own children by doing something stupid with our lives, just to see if He will protect us.
It is amazing to me how people separate abuse from other forms of danger. For example, if you were a bank teller and the robber approached with his gun and asked for the money, would you just stand there and do nothing? Would you not turn the money over? Would you really say, “Well, God, if this is what you have planned for me, then I guess I will be with you shortly.” No! We would hand that money over as fast as we could. Our families would flash through our minds and we would quickly give to the armed person whatever they were asking for.
I understand the Scripture here. There could be an argument about whether the “testing” is in the “if you are the Son of God”, but I have heard the same testing told to me. “If” you are a Christian, you have no need to worry. Just forfeit your life to the sin of abuse, and God will raise you up. If he does not protect you here, it is because it was His will for you to be killed, so you could be with Him. It just gets more ridiculous, every time I hear it or repeat it!
I understand being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. I understand being martyred for Christ’s Kingdom. Oh, if this were just that. But it is not.
I hope this helps someone out there who needs to understand, as I do, that it is okay to protect your life and to cherish it for Christ. God even says that no one ever hated his own flesh, but loves it and nourishes it. That means to me that we are meant to love and nourish our lives. Not in a fleshly, selfish and sinful way, but that God gave us the desire to live and to care for our bodies and souls. It cannot be both ways. God cannot lie. Doing nothing about abuse, or anything else that could harm our lives or take them from us, because we are just going to trust God to keep us from dashing our foot against a stone, can be the same thing as putting the Lord to the test. We ought not do that.