A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Why do the Righteous Suffer and the Wicked Prosper? (Psalm 73)

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

***

We hardly ever do a Sunday evening post, but in response to a couple of very good questions by readers of the post on Psalm 11 that we did this morning, I wanted to perhaps help by pointing everyone to Psalm 73.  Psalm 11 says that the Lord loves the righteous and rains fire down on the wicked.  But it doesn’t often look that way in this life, does it?  Some of you are suffering right now, and YOU are the Christian, while your unrepentant abuser is partying on. Well, rest assured that you are not the first to ask this question of the Lord, and it is quite right to ask it of Him.  The Psalms are filled with honest heart cries of the righteous — “Lord, why? When are you going to act here? Do you see the plight I am in?”

Here is the Psalmist’s own record of this very kind of struggle in his own life.  Notice that he almost caved in and turned away from the Lord — until…— and there is the key word.  Until.  Until he considered their end.  Listen to him and take heart.  It only LOOKS like the wicked are prospering:

Psa 73:1-28 A Psalm of Asaph.

Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them.
And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.

All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.

When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

14 Comments

  1. Nicola

    Thanks for this post. This particular scripture has brought me much needed guidance and comfort in the 2 years since I fled my abuser. There have been many times when both I, and the people who have supported me, have wondered at God’s seeming lack of action in that abuser’s life. However…..each and every step along the way God’s purpose has been realised. One example of this is that had my abuser not continued to live wickedly, I would not have been motivated to share so openly about my experiences and subsequently help other victims of abuse. There have been countless other examples of God’s purpose being revealed. My network of family and friends and I have been witness to God’s hand in our lives in a most extraordinary way that we would have missed otherwise. Now, 2 years on, I am grateful for it all. To have been witness to God’s action in my life in the most tender, intricate and personal ways, has been the most incredible gift and surpasses all the pain and suffering of the past. Ultimately our faith in God and closeness to Him has increased, immeasurably, in a way and to a level that I could not have predicted. I realise that my abuser’s ever increasing distance from a loving, sovereign God is utterly self-damning. To have been graced by a close, loving relationship with Him, and His family, has been a bigger reward that I could have imagined. Please hang in there all who find themselves looking back and feeling they have been wronged. Don’t let your heart grow bitter. Allow God to show you the wonderful reward He has in store for you – to be His child, loved by Him above all else.

  2. Anonymous

    All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.
    For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning
    .

    This is simply amazing. Someone no less than the great King David is expressing the same frustrations and venting the same complaints that I do! The wicked of his day seem no different to those today, having it easy, preying on the vulnerable, ruling with threats. Yet where are they now? Destroyed in a moment! Maybe that moment was the moment of their death, who cares, they were wiped out in a moment. And King David? He lives on, through his writings and in eternal glory, just as the righteous in Christ will, and not a moment too soon! May that day come sooner rather than later!

  3. As I See It Only

    Amen.

  4. Jenna

    I can understand this Psalm. I still feel so hopeless many days. My abuser has threatened divorce even before I left him nine months ago. He has not filed but is carrying on an adulterous relationship with a woman with an immoral past. I finally got the strength to file for divorce last week because I cannot live with the pain of any ties to him. He ignores me and doesn’t answer my calls, texts or emails now that he has her. He has all my personal belongings still in his house and won’t give them to me. I left with only a few things when I walked out. I left quickly while he was in the shower. He tells everyone I ripped his heart out and I am crazy, etc . Just as a narcissist does. Now since I filed for divorce I will have left him and divorced him and took his money according to him. I begged God to not get divorced. I prayed for marital restoration. I wanted to try to make it work. Now the only way to end this emotional devastation is to be done for good and get a divorce. Why did God make it so I had to file? That is against what I believe. Why is my abuser allowed to play the victim? Did I give up on God’s power when I gilded. Was it selfish to want this over? My abuser throws it my face that I abandoned him. Does he forget why? Why won’t he just divorce me? No I have to commit the sin if divorce just to have closure.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Jenna- You, like most of us, sound like you were brought up in church being taught that divorce is sin. I highly recommend that you read Barbara Roberts’ book, Not Under Bondage and probably David Instone-Brewer’s book as well (see the title info on our Resources page). YOU are not the one sinfully ending this non-marriage. Your abuser destroyed the marriage covenant long ago and all you are doing is the legal paperwork to acknowledge that. Filing divorce paperwork is not divorce. Breaking the marriage covenant is divorce. Perhaps, and this is merely my own suggestion, God’s purpose in sorting it out this way in your life is to help you get free of guilt? I have no doubt that, as you say, you wanted to preserve the marriage. But it takes two people to preserve a marriage and no matter how hard one tries, if the other is an abuser and destroyer of the covenant, that marriage is going to be destroyed. In such cases we believe that God views the filing of divorce papers as a GOOD thing, not a sin that he will grudgingly forgive.

      • fiftyandfree

        Hi Jenna. I’m so sorry about what has happened to you, but very glad that you found this place. We understand, and we’ve asked the same questions you are asking. Why did God let this happen? Why does he get away with the abuse and with presenting himself as the innocent party? Why am the one who is sinning by filing for divorce? I was exactly where you are about a year and a half ago. I had the same questions and struggles. Barbara’s book (Not Under Bondage) helped free me from the self condemnation, guilt, shame, and fear. Like Jeff said, filing the paper work is NOT divorce. He divorced you when he broke his vows. My ex did the same thing. He defrauded me into marrying him and then abused me during the marriage. Finally after 11 years I could take no more and I asked him to move out. I felt strongly that divorce was the only answer, but I wanted to do the “right thing” and NOT get divorced, but living with him had become unbearable, so I offered him a separation instead and agreed to attend Christian marital counseling with him. To make a very long story short, he lied continually to the counselor and his abuse actually escalated during the separation but he told me that he WOULD NOT FILE FOR DIVORCE, and he insisted that we stay married and that I let him move back into the house. I was so torn for a long time because I felt like you do, that if I filed I was the guilty party, but Barbara’s book and another book (Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, by David Instone-Brewer) helped me to see that he had already divorced me without any filing of paperwork. He just wanted me to be the “bad guy” and be the one to file so he could maintain his “innocent” facade. God will not be fooled.

        The other thing I did that lead to my freedom from abuse is that I laid my life in the Lord’s hands and I told Him that I would do absolutely anything He asked me do (divorce, or stay married) and once I truly had a surrendered heart the Lord was able to get through to me and He spoke to me in ways that I would understand to give me peace about going ahead with the divorce. It was tough, but I’ve never looked back and I know without a doubt that I did the right thing.

        I will pray for you.

    • Jenna if you are short of money I am happy to send you my book as a gift. Just email me with your shipping address. barbara@notunderbondage.com

  5. Psalm 37

    Something came to me regarding this topic. I think not seeing an abuser get his due here on earth almost validates what he is doing. It’s bad enough how abusers mess with a victims mind, and not seeing any consequences for the wicked behavior almost makes it seem acceptable. The judges and courts largely let abusers get away with their crimes, but it doesn’t make sense when God is silent regarding any justice for the oppressed and abused here on earth.
    My pharisaical mother would say that “they’ll get theirs someday when they have to answer to God,” and it always reminded me of the verse in Proverbs that talks about singing songs to a heavy heart. No empathy. No sense of justice due to someone. I don’t know how to rectify the truth contained in the Bible example after example of wicked men who have gotten theirs here on earth, Haman for example, yet there seems to be no divine intervention in some of our cases. My ex viciously abused two women, destroyed two families, rips off the government, rips me off on child support, rips his first wife off on alimony payments, and no consequences ever cross his path. If you read the book of Esther, you know what happens to Haman in the end. I would love to see my ex’s whole evil plan undo before my eyes on the way to the 75 feet high gallows.

    • Psalm 37, I hear you. Having the echo of your Pharisaical mother in your head probably makes it hard for you to hear the encouragement in Psalm 73. God certainly will give abusers their just deserts in the end and the intensity of his wrath is hard for us to imagine, but it will be the exact and perfect punishment that the abuser’s acts have merited. But when someone utters that truism in a dismissive tone, a tone that shows they lack empathy with your pain, or they just want to shut you up so you don’t vent your pain to them, then that hurts.

      As to all the Bible’s narratives that describe sinners getting their just deserts, maybe it might help you to think of some wicked people in the Bible who did not (so far as we know) get much of their just deserts while they were alive. I’m trying to brainstorm a few for you.
      Alexander the coppersmith — the Bible never tells us that he suffered much for the way he harmed the Apostle Paul.
      King Solomon — he only seems to get a little adversity near the end of his reign, not nearly as much as was probably warranted for his disobedience in taking foreign wives and letting them bring their false religions into Israel, amassing gold and horses and chariots, etc.
      Aaron did not get much more than a slap on the wrist for fashioning the Golden Calf and letting the people cavort around it.

      Okay, in these three examples Solomon and Aaron were not out-and-out wicked all the time, but the point I’m trying to make may still apply. God seems to deliver consequences to some bad people during their lifetime, and with others he seems to hold it all up till they die, and then “they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!”

      Maybe other readers can think of further characters in the Bible who did wickedly but did not seem to be much punished during their lifetimes.

  6. Jenna

    Thank you fir your replies. I feel angry that god couldn’t move mountains and change this. My heart aches. The man I fell in love with us long gone. I was only married two years before the emotional abuse and one count of severe sexual abuse started. I think I have trauma bonding that makes me feel like I still want him at times. I had a very physically abusive narcissistic father also. I too surrendered all to god and when I did my abuser no longer will talk to me via phone, text or email. He has left me financially distressed as he forged checks and took all our money. When I mentioned the forgery and theft of my share he said if I get nasty about it I would see how Mean he could be. He said he could be really really MEAN. What could he do at this point? There is nothing left of who I am or was. Friends and family want me back as I was .

  7. S

    Amen. So well put.

    [Ed’s note: screen name of commenter disidentified for safety reasons]

  8. WMG

    It IS so hard when there are so many wicked people who never seem to be corrected/punished etc.
    It Is horribly unfair knowing that all of the people who have treated me and latterly my children with such vileness and outright criminality, when I have not just done no harm to any of them but (before eventually fleeing the devil) also turned the other cheek, been kind and generous to those who have cursed me and prayed for those who have spitefully persecuted me.
    I have been forced to accept that there is no justice in this mortal world.
    However, I don’t want vengeance, not even from God if possible. I don’t want them to be destroyed. I want them to be saved before that happens.
    I don’t wish instant destruction on them. I want them to be given the gift of empathy. I want them to be able to FEEL all the pain they have inflicted on others as a lesson in understanding, so that they can feel remorse afterwards.
    The only horror I want them to feel is the horror of knowing what they put other people through. I want my abusers to feel my pain for THEIR benefit. So that God won’t destroy them.

    (screen name changed for safety reasons)

  9. Kenyanmum

    Sometimes I pray and feel like God is taking too long, while the wicked are doing so well. I have been asking myself why….now I got the answer

    • Hi Kenyanmum – welcome to the blog! 🙂 We are so glad you are finding it helpful.

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