Thank you for your column.
Please, can you assist me with some advice for a friend? She is born-again and loves the Lord with all her heart, but she is married to an abusive man who considers himself a Christian. He gambles, drinks, lies, spends most of his time out with friends, and does not communicate with her.
She keeps the peace and seems to have accepted her fate with him, she doesn’t love him but she doesn’t want to divorce him as it is displeasing to God. She also doesn’t want their children growing up in a broken home.
She also has her parents living in a flat on the property. She has stayed to keep the status quo as she doesn’t want to disrupt her parents or the children’s lives as she believes that he will be quite nasty and fight her for the property. She is not interested in material things but has to provide a home for the children and her parents.
She knows that she deserves better, but always says that heaven is our eternal home and she can endure whatever hardships she faces on earth. The thing is this is killing her and now their beautiful teenage daughter is questioning why she has stayed and says she wishes her father were dead.
She knows that she has got to get some counseling for her daughter but says that if she gets any counseling for herself then she will fall apart into so many pieces that they may not be able to put her back together again. She says it’s only the Lord that has kept her all these years.
Please give me some advice or encouragement for her.
Your friend is blessed to have you in her corner, caring about her and looking out for her. It is a tough situation all the way around. When you wrote that your friend is married to an abusive man who considers himself a Christian, yet that he gambles, drinks, lies, spends most of his time out with friends, and does not communicate with her, all I could think of is this: “Who is he kidding that he is a true Christian?” It seems he is only kidding himself.
Unfortunately this extremely self-centered man is also creating chaos and heartache for his family members. Your friend is a saint. She has the right attitude and the best thing you can do is be there for her and listen to her. Divorce is very hard on children despite the way some people try to make it sound like it is not so bad.
Your friend already seems to understand what I am about to say but I will try to reinforce her decision to stay in the relationship. She understands that this life is but a vapor, although her situation is very trying. She knows this will end and then life will be glorious with the Lord and all He has prepared for her.
Although her daughter is so upset with her father, the parental connection can be strong even under such adverse conditions. It is important that this beautiful teenage girl and her siblings get as much moral support as possible. But any counseling must be biblical counseling otherwise they will get even more confused and angry.
Her mother and close friends such as yourself can be a great support to her by explaining to the daughter that her father is a very lost soul and his behavior is not directed at her, personally. He is like an infant who has to be constantly gratified regardless of how it affects those around him. He sounds like a very lost soul and it is understandable that his daughter says she would rather see him dead than alive.
But I can tell you deep down she wishes he would straighten up and be the kind of father she needs and would rather not become a product of a broken home. I do think it would be more detrimental to her all the way around in the long run if her parents separated.
If the daughter can come to understand that we are living in a spiritual battlefield and that her father has been captured by the enemy, that his eternal future is in grave danger, then she may begin to look at him in a different way and not feel as much anger toward him. She might begin to pity him for being such a lost fool.
Her disappointments with her father could lead her to a strong relationship with the Lord wherein she would grow and understand that this life is so very temporary and what truly matters is our eternal future. It is very important to work with her to try to change her perspective and see that what her father is doing does not have to destroy her.
She can use her father’s shortcomings to develop a true and strong relationship with her heavenly Father , who will never forsake her. He is always there for her and she can cry out, “Abba Father” for comfort and fellowship (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).
It could be that the very problems her father is causing could be the catalyst to help her understand the futility of this life and how her true home is with the Lord. She may become a strong Christian through all of this, and mature spiritually in ways she may not have if she was not faced with such a challenging situation with her dad.
Believers must remember this eternal truth: This life is the worst we will ever experience. No matter how bad it may be it only lasts for a several decades at the most. Then we will reign with Jesus Christ for all eternity and we will never again experience any pain, suffering, sorrow, fear, persecution, trials, tribulations, temptations or evil of any kind. Our sufferings are temporal while our joy, happiness, fulfillment, adventures, love, fellowship and worship of God will be eternal.
The apostle Paul explained this truth:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward” (Romans 8:18).
When we experience trials, tribulations and persecutions we should remember these truths and instead of feeling sorrow for ourselves understand that God allows our sufferings to help us grow stronger in our faith so we can help others grow stronger in their faith. I know in our flesh this is not so easily done but with God’s help we can still have joy in our lives despite the merciless abusive behavior of others.
“And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh stedfastness; and stedfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
“Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. And let patience have [its] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
It is good to memorize the above Scriptures (Romans 5:3-4; 8:18 and James 1:2-4); share these verses with your friend and her children. They will help strengthen them to better deal with the hardships they are subjected to. By reciting these verses the joy of the Lord can begin to flood their hearts and help give them strength to endure the abuse. And we know that Philippians 4:13 is an important verse to keep close to our hearts:
“ I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.”
We must remember that we will have many struggles in this life, but when we die and go to heaven we will have eternal rest. That does not mean we will lie around doing nothing for all eternity. No, it means we will never again have struggles in which we will suffer hardships, trials, tribulations and persecution.
We will do a myriad things in heaven, including worshipping God and Jesus Christ, fellowshipping with the Holy Trinity and the brethren, exploring the universe and enjoying untold pleasures God has prepared for us.
All the work we do in the millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom will be works of joy. All the work we do will bring us full enjoyment and rejuvenation. We will never grow weary of the work we will do there as we do in this life. Some people have jobs that they love, but even they get tired and burned out after time.
In heaven we will never get tired, burned out or bored. Our immortal bodies will never need rest or sleep and neither will our minds. The next life will be so different from this one and we will not fully understand this truth until we get there.
Our works follow us, but preceding us is the work of Jesus Christ. It was His work on the cross of dying for us and shedding His precious blood to cleanse our sins that gives us a chance at life everlasting (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 1:7). He loved us first (1 John 4:19) and gives us every good gift (James 1:17) to do good works which the Father prepared for us to perform (Ephesians 2:10).
We will receive rewards for all of the works that we do for God to His glory. No matter how small a good work we do we will be given a reward for it. Most believers do small good works, but those who do many will receive even greater rewards than the famous pastors, evangelists and authors. We should never grow weary in doing good works even when disappointment and adversity surround us:
“And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).
Even giving someone a cup of water is a good work for which God will reward us (Matthew 25:35). To see what other good works we will be rewarded, please read the statement by Jesus concerning this (Matthew 25:31-46).
Also study Deuteronomy 15:4-11; Job 29:12-16; 31:16-23; Proverbs 19:17; Isaiah 58:7; Romans 12:13; Galatians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 8:13-15; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; James 1:27; 2:15-16; 1 Peter 1:22 and 1 John 3:16-17. These are all good Scriptures to share and study with your friend and family members.
Your friend is doing a huge amount of good works by sacrificing, by staying in a very trying situation. The moment she passes from this life to the next, she will be freed from her prison and will reap the great rewards she has earned by being a good and faithful servant.
We should also remember that when we do good works we will encourage others to do the same. As we do more good works so will others, which means that we will be on the receiving end of good works. It is important to encourage others to do good works and to love one another by being encouraging and supportive, and not divisive, prideful, jealous and controlling.
“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
We should also fellowship with the other believers as much as possible to help each other from drifting away into the world. This is very important for your friend, her daughter and the other family members. In this way the focus will be taken off the abuser. When people are relentlessly abused there is a real danger that they could become so distraught and disenchanted that they could walk away from the Lord all together:
“Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God: but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
Cindy, please share what I have written here with your friend and continue to be there for her. One good friend can make all the difference in the world and it sounds like you are that friend. Remind your friend that we must trust the Lord no matter and not lean unto our own limited understanding (Proverbs 3:5), and that her eternal future is a glorious one.
And I would not totally write off the husband, yet. As long he is alive he could still come to true faith in Christ and stop acting like a spoiled selfish brat. Keep praying for your friend’s husband and for the entire family. God may be working on him right now in ways that we cannot see.
Please keep in touch with me and let me know how things are going. I will pray for the situation; that God will intervene in a miraculous way which only He can; that He will bring the abuser to his knees and bring about real repentant change in his life. When we have Jesus we always have hope. We should never underestimate God’s mercy, grace and power.
God bless you for your loving concern. May He strengthen and greatly bless you in every way.
In God’s love,
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20).