I. God hates abuse
II. God loves the abused
In the name of Jesus Christ, stricken, smitten, afflicted for us, dear Christian
If 300 people come to worship in-person today— 150 women and 150 men— 59
of them have endured, or will endure, severe physical abuse. Those are the figures the
Center for Disease Control uses to talk about physical violence, but there are plenty of
other kinds of abuse that have or will affect us or those we love, many of whom are with
us here today.
Abuse is real. Abuse is relevant. And it hits close to home. Pun intended. But
abuse is not punny or funny. It is serious and it needs to be addressed.
How is the best way to do that? If we stay silent, some of you will continue to get
hurt and others of you won't heal. If we break the silence, some of you may get hurt
when you get home because your secret is out or these words might trigger old trauma. If
we remain generic, you might not see the many forms abuse takes and if we get too
graphic some of the children will become unnecessarily worried.
Talking about abuse is like walking a tightrope, so if I slip up, or when I slip up—
when the words are not just right or when I miss the mark— I need you to know my heart
is here to help. I need you to know it's okay to sit and listen, or leave when it gets too
difficult, or to cry in your chair, or to email me later with your questions. I know this
isn't easy, but it's important for us to listen to our heavenly Father and then talk with one
Let’s begin with a definition. According to the National Domestic Violence
Hotline, abuse is “a pattern of behavior that uses fear and force to maintain power and
control.” This isn't one-time name calling, but a pattern of behavior. It's not just
physical force, but also psychological fear and assault on your mental well-being.
Abuse’s goal is control. The abuser wants things his/her way. He/she blows up,
blows off a blow up, or blames you for a blow up. He/she threatens to take the kids,
threatens to hurt him/herself. Abusers even twist Scripture: “you have to submit to me”,
“you have to forgive me”, “love keeps no record of wrong so you can't call the cops”.
Abuse has adversely affected so many relationships. Are you the guy who grew
up with a verbally abusive mother? Are you the girl who was hurt by her ex-boyfriend?
Are you the father who feels guilty for the way his anger controlled him? Are you the
friend who offers the compassionate listening ear, but doesn’t know what to do to help?
GOD’S WORD TO THE ABUSED
I. God hates abuse
II. God loves the abused
2 Over the next three weeks, we will address three specific groups of people.
Today, we focus on those who have been abused. Next week, we will address the
abusers themselves. The third week we will speak specifically to everyone who knows
the abused or the abuser. We hope to heal hearts as we look at God’s Word and apply it
to the lives of all affected by, and afflicted with, the sin of abuse.
So, let's start with this: God hates abuse. But if that is true, then why doesn’t God
just stop it? His timing and thoughts are so much different than ours. At times, they
confuse us and cause us to question him. But we don’t have to question whether or not
God hates abuse. He does!
Here are three Bible passages to prove it. We heard one in our first Scripture
lesson today: “So God said to Noah, ‘I'm going to put an end to all people, for the
earth is filled with violence because of them’” (Gn 6:13). Why did God bring death
and destruction through the Flood? It was because of abuse. It was because violent force
replaced humble faith and God couldn't stand it.
And neither could Jesus. In the Gospel today, we heard him say, “if anyone
causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to
have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the
sea” (Mt 18:6). God hates abuse. God hates it when anyone uses size or strength,
authority or position to hurt a child or anyone else for that matter.
The psalmist David provides the third God-inspired proof that God hates abuse:
“The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his
soul hates” (Ps 11:5). God hates abuse and hates those who love abuse! If you have in
the past, or currently are abusing someone, you need to come back next week to learn
about how God can still love you. If you have been in the past, or currently are being
abused, let those words of God cut through the pile of garbage your abuser heaped up to
hide the truth.
God hates abuse. God never minimizes it or justifies it. He never blames it on
pressure at work or the pressure of parenting or a few drinks too many or a past that
included it. He doesn't blame it on you the abused. It's not your fault. You are not
responsible, no matter what the abuser says.
God hates abuse. so you can hate it too. You can hate it enough to leave. You
can hate it enough to call a friend or a counselor or the police.
A study was conducted years ago that discovered when one person says
something to you ten times and ten people say something to you one time, your brain
feels about the same. In other words, it only takes one abusive voice to overwhelm your
mind. So, if your mom or your boyfriend calls you an idiot or fat or worthless, your brain
finds it very hard to remember that only one person said that. Out of all the people you
know, out of 7.7 billion humans on earth, it was just one. But it feels like the truth,
I wonder if that's why God calls you so many names. In the New Testament,
someone counted 682 total names for us; some were negative like “weak” and “sinful”
and others were positive like “holy”, “loved” and “chosen”. Guess how many were
positive! 610! That is a ratio of nine positive names to every one negative name!
Obviously, there is still the hard truth that we are all sinners, but God also overwhelms us
with the truth of our identity— who we now are through faith in Jesus.
3 As a Christian, you are a saint. As a Christian survivor of abuse, you are a saint.
You are not damaged. You are a delight to God.
God knew how many times we would be called names and how harmful that
would be. He knew how many of us would be accused by Satan, how many of us would
be demeaned by our abusers, how many of us would believe the whispers and the voices
of the world. so he recorded on the pages of Holy Scripture the reality of what the life
and death and resurrection of Jesus did for us.
Jesus announced that the words of the prophet Isaiah were written about him:
“the Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to
the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of
sight for the blind, to release the oppressed...” (Lk 4:18). Jesus came with good news.
He came to cleanse us from everything embarrassing and unclean and to set the abused
free. Through Jesus, you are made new, even if you don't know how or when the abuse
will end, even if the wounds don't heal right away.
When you reach out for help, I would highly recommend Christian Family
Solutions (christianfamilysolutions.org). It's a counseling service supported by our
WELS that is professionally trained to help people heal from abuse. They are ready to
help. You can also check out the site on the front of the bulletin: freedomforcaptives.com
God hates abuse and God loves the abused, but there's one other thing I want you
to know. God was abused. In prophesying about Jesus, the Prophet Isaiah wrote, “he
was pierced...crushed...punished...oppressed...afflicted...led to the slaughter” (Is
53:5,7). Jesus was struck, slapped and stripped of his clothing. He was assaulted,
mocked and ridiculed. His friends ran away in fear and Jesus suffered alone...all to save
us from our sins.
So, God gets what you're going through. When you pray, he nods, because he
knows. Every time you see a cross, you see the proof. Just like Jesus’ story didn't end in
abuse, yours won't either. We are about to sing a hymn that is slow and thoughtful,
because life isn't always upbeat and happy, but the song reminds us that Jesus was
abused, so he gets it when we are abused and he will get us through it.
I hope you can heal by putting your hope in Jesus. He is our Refuge to whom we
can run for safety. He is our Rock behind whom we can hide for protection. He came
once to save us from our sins. He will come again to save us from the sins of the abuser.
So, whatever your story, whatever your scars, let's sing to the Savior who gets it.