Does the Bible give any examples of how to handle abuse? In Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 34 we have two examples to follow. In both cases the prophets are confronting other prophets who have used their positions to take advantage of the weak people of God. Part of this abuse is sexual. In these passages God gives us clear direction for how to proceed.
Confront the abuser
The first thing Jeremiah and Ezekiel do is confront the abusers. They publicly decry their deeds. Several things should be noted here. First, it is not the victims confronting their abusers; it is the men of God who confront them. Second, the abuser’s sin is clearly named, defined, and condemned. Unfortunately in our world today “confrontation” can be done more for show then out of a genuine desire to protect victims and see perpetrators repent.
God’s overwhelming love for His weak sheep
God immediately turns His attention to His weak and hurting sheep. He is going to see them healed, taken care of, and prospering. Throughout both passages the love of God for the abused is clearly evident. In caring for victims we must ensure that they know the love of God.
Victims safe and flourishing
After confronting the abusive prophets, God turns His attention to the victims. Notice that He is not seeking for victims to be mere survivors; God heals victims so that they flourish. We must stay with the abused for the long haul. We must help them be fruitful and increase. It should also be noted that God will raise up people who will ensure that the abused can live without fear. One of the side effects of abuse can be crippling anxiety and fear. We must make sure that victims are in safe places. We must listen to their fears and anxiety. We must make sure that they are protected and safe.
Weep with those who weep
Jeremiah is completely overcome with emotion when he thinks about all that the people of God have suffered at the hands of those who have abused them. He can barely stand up and cannot even walk straight. He is grieved beyond words for those who are hurting. His grief is made worse in that this abuse is being carried out in the house of God. We must be like Jeremiah and weep with those who are hurting. Sometimes the greatest thing we can do is cry with those who are hurting. Sharing in their pain and emotions is part of walking the long road of recovery with them.
Abuse is not of God
One of the worst things about abuse within a church setting is that many times victims get the impression that the abuse they are suffering comes from God. This is sometimes implied, but many times this impression comes from the explicit statements of their abusers. Jeremiah combats this lie by telling the people of God that these sinful prophets do not speak for God. God did not send them. They are liars. Godly prophets would have turned people from abuse not enabled abuse or continued abuse. Part of helping abuse victims heal is speaking truth against the lies they have been told.
We must love the hurting
Abused people are hurting and struggling. We cannot be like the people of Ezekiel’s day who did not help the hurting find healing. We must go the extra mile in our welcoming, loving, and seeking out others. Abuse victims do not walk around with neon signs, but they feel like they do. They and their families are extremely sensitive to the smallest sign of rejection. We must be welcoming, warm, friendly, and loving to everyone who comes to our church. You have no idea what they are coming out of, and you have no idea what that child has been through. When people miss church we must seek them out, not in judgment, but in true Christian love.
The only Healer is Jesus
Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel point to one truth: true healing only comes from the Messiah. We are not capable of healing the hurts of abuse. We are not capable of bringing abusers to repentance and restoration. It is only Jesus Who can do this. We must minister in such a way that turns people to Him.
Will you be more sensitive and loving to those around you? Will you protect the weak and vulnerable? Will you point people to Jesus? Will you come to Jesus yourself?03-24-19AM-How to Handle Abuse