Psalms 20:6-9 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.
The Psalms are filled with prayers from the oppressed, pleading with the Lord to hear them, see their plight, and to judge their oppressors. Some of those Psalms also praise the Lord for answering those prayers and rescuing His people out of their trouble. In our troubles, many of us have seen answers to our prayers for help. Some of us have seen those answers come in some pretty powerful and glorious ways. And yet…. So many times the Lord does not seem to hear or see what the evil man is doing to us. Some of you have expressed those feelings here on this blog in your comments, and we understand. Where is the Lord? Why doesn’t he strike down the wicked man? How can he allow these things to happen?
Recently I was discussing this very thing with an abuse survivor. The wickedness of her abuser has continued over decades of time and though she is now away from him, he still does what he can to make her suffer. Why? Here is what she said and I think it is a really helpful and incredible insight:
I think that the Lord reserves them for punishment. Emphasis on reserves. Maybe the Lord’s anger against them is that He wants to do this face to face so they know Who they crossed.
We see this idea of the wicked being reserved for the Lord’s wrath in numbers of Scriptures:
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
2 Peter 2:17
These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.
These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Storing up wrath. Reserved for gloom and darkness forever. That is Christ’s message to all abusers. The King is coming with ten thousands of his holy troops. This heavenly army is coming like a nuclear missile laser-guided so it cannot miss. The wicked, if they would hear Christ’s words, should hear the thunder of the hooves even now. He is coming, wicked one! And he is coming for you! Your name is in his book and he has a place with your name on it reserved just for you in a place so horrible it cannot be described. You will never come out of there. Never.
It appears then, you see, that Christ has heard our prayers after all and that He is acting.
And then there is this one final, incredible fact that we must be certain to announce. This same King whose wrath is against you, abuser, is also telling you that if you will truly repent of your evil and plead with Christ for mercy, He will give it. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? That the very One who is riding down upon you even now to destroy you, is the One who has made a way for you to be saved from Him!
Psalms 2:10-12 therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Thank you for this, Pastor Crippen. I confess I have had the same kinds of doubts and questions you share here.
The stress of having to live with the past trauma as well as the present fear can be debilitating. I know one day He will make all things right, but sometimes it is hard to find the depth of peace and joy we long for in the now.
In this, I pray for those I work with who are dealing with these very issues. Their faith, perseverance and good nature in the face of their trying circumstances are universally a blessing to behold. I know God will honor their faithfulness – hopefully in the near future – and for the strength and wisdom they need for each and every day.
I like that perspective. “He wants to do this face to face so that they know Who they crossed.”
And that last paragraph reminds me of what Rachael Denhollander said to her abuser: “And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found.”
A few weeks ago I wrote in my journal along the same lines, on God and evil:
I was thinking the other day about the reason I think God allows evil to exist. Satan, the evil one, is at war with God. Since we’re created in God’s image this backfires on us because Satan hates us and wants to destroy anything that reminds him that he’s not God. As a result we end up affected by this war. For a while we’re in a testing period and a season of preparation for what’s coming in the new heavens and the new earth. This world tests our loyalty. We’re either with Satan or with God. If we fight against evil, sin, the world, the devil, the flesh and are on God’s side, the victory is guaranteed. If not, defeat is guaranteed. But we participate in the battle, take up our cross, and God will make it worth it for us by allowing us to also participate in the victory with Him. Glory is coming. Evil will be vanquished. If God did not allow evil there would be no war against it and no glory and victory either. If there’s no glory without the cross for Christ, there won’t be one for us either. We get to taste and be partakers of Christ’s glory with HIm. But we must partake in the battle too. It’s a privilege to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ. We will be honored and glorified with Him as more than conquerors. Heirs of His kingdom. Valiant warriors. Glory is coming. And we will have no regrets.