Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

What to do When Hope Seems Non-Existent+

“It’s hopeless.” If you are or have been the target of a domestic abuser or if you have a friend who is, then you have probably said this very thing. “There is no hope. She has no possible way that anyone can think of to get herself and her children away from this evil.” I have certainly thought this more than once after hearing a victim’s story.

  • No economic resources (due to his financial abuse)
  • No extended family to help her (he has allied them to his side)
  • No marketable job skills after decades of giving her life to him
  • No church that will support her in a divorce
  • No justice in the legal system (sometimes there is, often there is not)
  • No assurance that she will have full custody of the children

You just have to keep checking off “no” as you survey the landscape for an escape route.  It looks hopeless. It is not a sin to say it. The thing does appear to be devoid of any hope. And the fact is, humanly speaking, it is.

The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to be in such a predicament and he said so:

2Co 1:8-10 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (9) Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death….

That is to say, Paul’s situation was hopeless and he said so. But then he continue with the rest of the story:

……But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (10) He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

If you know Christ, if you belong to Him, then He loves and guards you just as much as He did the Apostle Paul. The Lord Jesus Christ delights in bringing His people up to the Red Sea, then parting the waves for His glory and our good. He wants to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who can even raise the dead. The Lord delivered Paul from a “deadly peril” in which there was no visible way of escape. Paul could say afterwards: On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
This was not foolish presumption. It was a faith that knew the Lord and believed His promises to His people. He will deliver us. On him we have set our hope. He will deliver us again.
Utter hopelessness is a lie of the enemy. Like Sennacherib, the devil and his agents stand outside the gates and tell us:

2Ki 19:10 “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.

That is exactly what the mocking of the abuser says. Oh he may claim to be the finest Christian, but in fact he works to destroy any trust in the Lord. “Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that you will ever leave me.” But this is all a lie. God does not deceive His people. He does not and cannot break His promises to us. Therefore, our situation is never hopeless.
Here is true truth from the pen of John Newton, a man who knew very well what it was like to be in a hopeless situation. Let his words encourage you:

Come, my soul, thy suit [ie, requests] prepare:
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He Himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not say thee nay.

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.
[John Newton, 1779]

LARGE petitions! Even when it all looks hopeless. It is impossible to ask the King for more than He can give!


Sin of Abuse Exposed by the Light of Christ — Sermon by Ps Crippen


Is Your Abuser a Christian?+


  1. Psalm 72 speaks of David’s son bringing justice and peace.
    Beautiful article, Jeff. Thank you
    PS – I love that hymn. It’s in my head now, which is a great way to start the day..

  2. Reblogged this on My Only Comfort and commented:
    Great Monday morning thoughts!

  3. cindy burrell

    I’ve been there – emotionally bankrupt yet compelled to leave and wondering where my four children and I would end up. But God made a way! In fact, I’m not sure I have ever felt His presence more profoundly than through those long, dark months. Every morning I prayed that He would give me the strength I needed and every night I would thank Him for bringing me through one more day. Such a hard season, but the truth, freedom and restoration we have enjoyed is worth fighting for.
    “There is a light, not only at the end of the tunnel, but in it.”

  4. Melanie

    This brings tears to my eyes…such truth and I have experienced just this! He is always faithful and provides a way where we see none. I remember so vividly feeling trapped like a caged animal with no way out for me and my children, but He has been there at every turn and has always come through at the perfect time. He hears our cries and collects our every tear. Nothing goes unnoticed. He is our Great Deliverer!

  5. lackeycarter

    Thank you for this. So well put at a time when the words and word seem to escape me

  6. Rebecca

    This is really beautiful. Thank you, Jeff.

  7. Anne

    I will be re-reading this post often! One of my greatest fears has been over securing a job that has a “living wage” and benefits (like many abuser survivors–health issues are present.) A friend insisted I read Hebrews 11 everyday for a month. I did so reluctantly, because I was in the “hopeless” mindset. After a few days, vs. 11 jumped out at me: “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” This was God’s assurance to me that my age was no problem for Him; He will open the doors. Our needs met is ALL of Him. I wrote that verse on an index card and taped it to the inside of my laptop. Satan likes to continue his lies, but God’s Word beats them back every time.

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