Who is listening?

[September 1, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

The abused and their advocates cry to the Lord (Habakkuk 1:2-4  ESV) —

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

The Lord’s rebuke to the abusers and those who enable them (Jeremiah 7:5-10  ESV with examples in brackets added by me) —

“For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless [children with abusive fathers who exploit and neglect them], or the widow [the woman lacking a real husband and oppressed by an anti-husband], or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you —
steal [rob the victims of their dignity, health, financial support, reputation, and the welfare of their souls],
murder [the murder of hatred and unjust accusation],
commit adultery [and otherwise pervert the marriage bed with your porn-inspired desires],
swear falsely [even under oath, lie through your teeth; and make lies by omission and half-truth],
make offerings to Baal and go after other gods that you have not known [idolizing the PhD from the ‘right’ seminary; idolizing those who have published lots of books; idolizing marriage and the family; saying you care about the unborn but ignoring the cries of the living who have been groomed and abused by wicked men or women],
and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’ — only to go on doing all these abominations?

Our team member Wendell G acerbically remarked in a back-of-blog email thread last week:

If Jesus were teaching today, many of the established denominations would reject Him because He does not have a PhD (aka Piled Higher and Deeper) from one of THEIR seminaries. And John the Baptist wouldn’t even be allowed to be the usher, in case he could not control himself and boomed out “brood of vipers!” in the middle of the service.

Could you imagine how some people would want Jesus to teach the Beatitudes today?

“Blessed are the women who stay with their abusers for they shall see salvation.”

“Blessed are you when your husbands revile you and call you all kinds of names. Rejoice and be glad, for even though your spirit is crushed and you lose your life, at least you were obedient. For many a husband has done this before you!”

“Blessed are those that are silent before the verbal onslaught, for they are helping their husbands take their rightful place in the kingdom.”

“Blessed are the abuse victims who obey their church leaders and do not report abuse to the police or child protection, to preserve the the reputation of the church.”

Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. [The original link to O Jesus, I Have Promised was broken. We replaced it with a version played by Andrew Remillard. For the lyrics, click here [Internet Archive link]. Editors.]

[September 1, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to September 1, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 1, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 1, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 1, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

23 thoughts on “Who is listening?”

  1. Barbara, thank you for posting this timely message and the Lord knew I needed the comforting words within “O Jesus, I Have Promised”. Just when I was breaking through the fog, a time of despair has come – so much pain as I have the burden of “blame” continually thrown at me.

    1. Dear Precious One,
      I sigh a deep sigh, lifting you to The Innocent One who intercedes for you. May you have clarity of thought, moment by moment. In your tired moments, be certain that the thoughts and words you say about yourself are uplifting and loving. Be gentle with yourself. When you become confused, speak truth and state simply what the lie is that is causing you confusion. By faith, live in the present moment, one breath at a time.

      1. Seeing Clearly – thank you for your prayer. I feel so ashamed of my “weak moments”; truly the Lord is refining me to trust only in HIM as I presently don’t have a “safe” church to draw support from. Bless you and ACFJ for the many Christ-honouring words. Lord, may You be truly glorified by the hearts of the saints that unite on this blog and in sound Biblical churches.

  2. I believe the Lord is trying to get a point across today. Today’s sermon at church was about listening, Psalm 81. This blog [post] is about listening. I read another blog and had a conversation about listening. Listening to God and one another is so important.

    I think Wendall has it right. Paul chalked off all of his education to not being anything in comparison to knowing Jesus. I grew up with pastors who never went to college much less seminary. They had more compassion, sense and knowledge of who Jesus was than most do today. I see nothing wrong with education, but I don’t find it completely necessary. What I do find necessary is a real relationship with the one true God.

  3. I’ve gone through alot of abuse in my life from verbal, emotional, sexual, spiritual. I am a Christian and have had alot of mixed messages….about what is abuse and what isn’t, how much a Christian should endure as a loving forgiving person…. Some things are obvious others… I’m not sure I’m a good judge of what constitutes enough abuse to leave and get a divorce? I’ve talked to a councilor about somethings my husband does and she says I can’t council you to leave him or not…. It’s not verbal or beating….but it’s continual things….that I’ve expressed my displeasure and disagreement on….and it’s like I have no voice unless I hit a boiling point and explode….he wont get counciling….we went [to] a few sessions and the male councilor agreed with me on the issues so he wouldn’t go back.
    My kids are all out of high school now….I just can’t live like this the rest of my life, living more like roommates….than friends, I don’t want to be like my mom and just put up with things.

    1. Dear Nessa3, in one way I agree with your counsellor — at this blog we don’t counsel people to leave, or to stay — but we do provide information for them to help them make up their own minds, and we support and encourage people who are suffering in destructive marriages to have confidence in their gut feelings (the body knows) and their own sense of what they want. We believe that abuse does not have to be physical or high decibel words to be abuse. You might find this post helpful.
      Signs of an abusive relationship — where the abuse is hard to recognize

      I think as you read more on this blog, it may help you work out what you want to do.

      The fact that you feel you have no voice in your marriage — which I assume means you feel your husband does not heed your legitimate complaints about his behaviour — and that he actually resists taking responsibility (e.g. by refusing to continue counseling) is strongly suggestive to me that you are indeed suffering abuse.

      1. It feels over whelming to try and think about divorce and all the ramifications. I have a daughter and in her twenties and thinks her dad is the greatest. And of course she doesn’t know everything about our relationship. Also I’m in counciling for childhood issues (currently) I feel empty and hopeless….as if that’s what my whole life is about (abuse).
        I’d rather commit suicide than have to deal with being the monster who divorced.
        I don’t feel loved….and wouldn’t trust it if it came my way.

      2. Nessa3,
        I had childhood issues too. I know what it feels like. I would have rather died or perhaps become a split personality to make the pain go away. But, I did neither. The pain can go away, but it takes time. I finally realized that I had to really want it and with hard work it doesn’t control me any longer. Your daughter is an adult and you are not a monster. Killing yourself is the evil one taking control. Don’t let him do it. Keep your thoughts on what is good. Divorce can be good. It can rescue you if it is the way you think you should go. You are loved. I only know what I have briefly read, but my heart and prayers are with you. You are loved. My youngest daughter didn’t understand why I was divorcing her stepfather, but once the process began and his wicked ways surfaced to new heights, she understood. You may need to have a heart-to-heart with your daughter. She may need time to understand. She will come around.

      3. I’d rather commit suicide than have to deal with being the monster who divorced.

        I understand your flinching from the idea of divorce, Nessa, if you think that people would make you out as a monster for doing so. And the rotten thing is, we can’t change what other people think. But we can change what we think. So I guess I hope that you can gradually come to a place where give can so affirm yourself that you have the option to choose divorce even despite what others may think. But if you are feeling as down as you sound in this comment above, I don’t want to put any pressure on you. Just know that it’s okay to feel despondent, and exhausted, and overwhelmed. Feeling those things is not wrong. I just hope you do not take any action of self-harm. (((( hugs))) from Barb.

  4. Dear Anonymous, a reply to your 9:09 a.m. response.
    Please don’t be ashamed of struggling. Don’t shame yourself for anything. I think that is a learned response from those who have severely devalued you. Please be gentle with yourself. Feel free to be honest about your struggles with us. We are honored to be your friend and consider you courageous to risk putting words to the confusion and fog. For those of us who have lived in fog and move in and out of it as a part of healing, we identified with you. Look in the mirror before bed, look in your eyes, smile at yourself and say, “you were courageous today, I’m proud of you and love you.” Speak to yourself as we speak to you.

    1. Seeing Clearly, I was just getting ready for bed…. Such timely words. It’s been a tough day but God’s Word and listening to sound preaching always helps. Thank you ever so much for your insight about the learned response of feeling shame. I have never expected to be thought of as more valuable than others but you have reminded me of what counselors have been working on me about: they don’t use the term ‘devalue’ like you but that is what they have been working on….that the Lord does indeed find me worthy of respectful relationships. Thank you, again, and bless you and others beyond measure.

    2. Oh, I just SO agree with this comment I had to say something. I am right there with you, Anonymous, in such a similar situation I get what you’re saying and I LOVE what Seeing Clearly wrote here. Thank you, Seeing Clearly, for your words have helped carry my burden too. Much love.

  5. Re-read this post many times over the last few months. STILL crying out the lamentation. STILL sure the rebuke won’t elicit any kind of repentance. (And Barb’s comments inserted into the rebuke increases clarity and covers most of the bases.)

    Divorced over a decade. Gone “No Contact” with entire family. Last abusive relationships (workplace) went “No Contact” less than 1 year ago.

    First time since birth not in abusive circumstances….and only since workplace relationships finished have I been brought to the realisation all relationships in my life had been abusive.

    Having a REALLY hard time believing promises are ever kept, even by God. Head sees covenant-keeping words in Scripture, heart can’t make the connection.

    (No need to airbrush….not enough detail.)

    On a side note. Wish I could bold or italicise words, rather than uppercase them. Don’t like the yelling of uppercase in “internet speak”. On the other hand, features can also be misused and / or overdone, so probably way better that only Admins have these options. (And to the Admins: NOT writing that sarcastically….just been using desktop computers since they hit the desktop, so am accustomed to the features. 🙂 )

    1. Also, an informal method has sprung up on the web to indicate that you’re writing a word in italics. Put asterisks on each side of the word. Like this.

      I didn’t know what those asterisks meant at first, but now I’ve figured it out. They mean you should read the word as if it is italicised. 🙂

      1. (Lightly airbrushing as I write….)

        Thanks, Barb. I didn’t know I could use HTML markup in WordPress, as I don’t have a WordPress account. I have done manual HTML website coding / maintenance, so am somewhat familiar with it. (Picture me rubbing my hands with glee, as I head off to read the “manual”…. 🙂 )

        In some of the older posts, reference had been made to only Admins having formatting access. And there were a few occurrences of an Admin using bold to make someone’s comment stand out. (Given my background, the likelihood of upgrades / updates changing this should have been obvious.)

        Actually, unless things have changed, the surrounding asterisks are the equivalent to bold, rather than italics. (Was teaching some of this in unconventional circumstances when the internet first became available to the general public and many folks were just coming off typewriters. 🙂 MicroSoft products usually automatically correct this way….just as the colon-hyphen-close parens combination gets changed to the happy face emoticon.)

        I am truly hoping I don’t come across as condescending / critical / lecture-y / etc. For once in a long time, there is some knowledge I can anchor to….

        There are times when programming and simple math settles my nerves. 🙂

      2. Finding Answers, I appreciate you teaching me!
        I always thought the asterisks meant italics, but they mean bold. Thanks for letting me know that. 🙂

        And yes, sometimes you might see that a commenter on this blog has used bold or italics. Very often that’s because I have edited their comment to add the formatting. Occasionally it’s because the commenter knows how to use basic HTML themselves….

        Feel free to teach us your skills, Finding Answers.

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