“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
How easy it is to consider your abuser as your enemy! He was direct, physical, in your face. When you are in pain, it is his face that comes before you and gives you nightmares. It was his very human hands that tried to destroy you. How can Paul, then, go against all reality and declare that this human who betrayed you is not your real enemy? Incredible! Was Paul in denial? Was he letting the abuser off the hook?
Jesus did not let abusers off the hook. He talked about millstones and drowning as appropriate punishment for causing a child to go astray. Paul also assures us that whatever a man sows, that is what he’s going to reap (Galatians 6:7). No, these men were not bypassing the very real results of human sins. They were simply saying that our real enemy is not the person who hurt us. The driving force behind that sin was our real enemy—Satan and his demons. You don’t have to consider your abuser a friend, but neither should you view him as the real enemy.
Paul mentions using weapons of righteousness in his right hand and in his left (2 Corinthians 6:7), which is an amazing word picture. When I first read that, I asked God what those weapons were. He taught me that one of them is forgiveness.
Some women need to confront their abuser in a guided discussion in order to get some answers, usually because the abuser is a family member. If you choose this route, don’t go alone! Take a trusted friend or a counselor with you and meet on neutral ground (someone else’s house, for example). Some women call the abuser on the phone and forgive him. Some write a letter. Some women, if the abuser is dead, choose to write a letter of forgiveness, never intending to send it. Most of the time it is totally appropriate never to contact this person but simply to forgive him before God, especially if the abuser is not asking for forgiveness. Have a private forgiveness ceremony with God and forgive your abuser from afar. God’s prime directive here is to forgive, and in that, you have many options.
After Paul talks about forgiveness in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, he gives us the reason we should forgive: “…that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” Satan’s ultimate goal is to separate us from God and from His love. He cannot, but he tries and he lies to us. Here is the truth: If God didn’t love us so much, Satan wouldn’t bother with us. If God loved trees the most, Satan would be out there doing everything he could to destroy all the trees. But God loves us, so Satan tries to get us away from Him by telling us lies and by putting wicked people in our path and by maneuvering our circumstances in as bad a light as possible and by telling us that forgiveness makes the offender as free as a bird. Yes, a human did the wickedness; a human chose to hurt us. But God warns us that our fight is not against that human but against the invisible powers that use a human’s sin to put a wedge between God and us.
So forgive the human, dear woman, and use your powerful weapon of righteousness against the rulers of darkness of this world so they cannot wound your heart any more.
This a page from the book When God Roared. Each page will be published, one per day, on this website. We pray that God uses it mightily in your life to swaddle you in His love and heal your precious heart.