How God Helps During Hardship
I am grateful for the firm faith foundation that I was raised with. My faith supported me emotionally and spiritually when I was leaving my own abusive relationship. I truly believe that my faith not only got me through those hard times, but that God made a way for us physically. I am grateful for His help, because it was the most difficult and challenging time of my life. Of course that is a story for another post, but getting out safely truly was a miracle in my life.
Maybe you have not been blessed with a background of faith. I believe there are no accidents. Today, I want to share just a few reasons that you can have hope and understand Gods promises for a much brighter future. I want you to know you are not alone, that this too shall pass. Because you too shall find the strength to leave, recover what you have lost, and build something better for your life. I know that if you follow where God leads, you will find hope, peace and joy. These things are available to you as soon as today. So, lets get started!
Here is Where to Start When Life is Overwhelming
CS Lewis once stated, and I am paraphrasing a bit:
“God whispers to us in our joy, speaks to us in our conscious, and shouts to us in our Pain. Pain is Gods Megaphone!”
I would have to agree with him. Over the years, I have seen many people come into or return to faith-not in times of joy and celebration, but in times of pain and struggle. I have experienced exactly how grounding and peace giving that nurturing and strengthening a relationship with God can be. Science has proven that people of faith have more emotional resilience during times of change and stress. Those will faith also suffer less from mental illness.
Most people, even in our modern world believe in God. But sadly, our fast paced, self centred and sinful culture has lost is a RELATIONSHIP with God. I firmly believe that all of us on the blue planet were put here to have and enjoy a relationship with God. It is no accident that he is called “Our Father”. He LOVES us, and he wants the very best for us. But don’t take my word for it:
‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Of course, no human father can compare to the goodness of God. My point is, you can trust that this time will pass, and your future is bright. He wants to you to be happy, healthy and whole. I encourage you to learn about God during this time of transition in your life. He will give you the grace and strength you need to get through this, if you ask. And sister, he will never abandon or forsake you. When you stand with God, you are never alone.
Understand How God Sees You & God Helps us During Hardship
Being in an abusive relationship is very hard on your self esteem. I want you to understand how God sees you, his daughter. In his eyes, you are a masterpiece!
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14 ESV
I have that verse posted on my bathroom mirror. It reminds me that I am perfect as I am, just the way God made me. Little notes help make my house a cozy home!
“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
We can’t understand fully how great his love for us is. God IS love! Everything he does is done in love.
And finally, rubies beat diamonds any day! Did you know that diamonds are actually quite common and very over valued? That is why rubies, emeralds and sapphires are the traditional stones in expensive jewelry.
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”
Proverbs 31:10 KJV
You are worth far more than rubies. Never settle for less than you deserve! Nobody deserves to be abused, coerced, bullied or manipulated.
Understand How God Helps Us During Hardship & How God Sees Abuse
Old Testament References
Genesis 4:1-16 – Cain killed Abel: the first recorded instance of domestic (family) violence. Cain thinks like many abusers. Cain thought he could get away with his crime because nobody saw it. That is what my ex said to me. But God always sees everything. In addition, Cain was angry at Abel, but Abel had done nothing wrong. Cains own sin was the problem, he was jealous and angry! When Cain got caught, he tried to lie his way out of it and make an excuse. In effect he said “I don’t know where my brother is! I’m not in charge of him!” Cain denied wrongdoing, minimized the situation, and blamed his brother. That is exactly what my ex did. How about yours?
Psalm 11:5 – “The LORD trieth the righteous; but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.” Yikes, those who are wicked better watch out, hurry up and repent!
Psalm 55 – King David talks about being abused by a close friend. He talks about his pained heart and that “fearfulness and trembling come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.” Clearly violent trauma. Then David says if he were a dove he would just fly away to find respite. He says his friend “hath violate his covenant” – the abuser is responsible for breaking covenant by being violent. Covenants are solemn vows made before God, and violence annuls or cancels a covenant. In this case, Davids friendship. Perhaps in your case, your marriage covenant.
Isaiah 1:15-17 – If you have heard that “God hates Religion” this passage is in part why. This passage was written by the prophet Isaiah, and it starts with God talking about how he finds offering and sacrifice given without heart (as ritual, without meaning and good intentions) to be disgusting: “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me“. This passage says that God will not hear the prayers of the violent, and people are told to support those that are oppressed and vulnerable, like orphans and widows. If your ex was “religious” and abusive, his prayers will fall on deaf ears.
Later in Isaiah 58:4, the message about those who seem religious by doing religious rituals like fasting and praying openly but who are also violent or abusive can’t expect God to hear their prayers. First, we are to pray and fast in secret, not to be zealotous show offs. Second, violence and abuse is sin. See the next point, Isaiah 59.
Isaiah 59 – This chapter in Isaiah talks in detail about how sin separates us from God. Violence, lies, injustice, oppression – these are sins that separate abusers from God; He does not watch over them or hear their prayers. “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay” God himself will bring justice for the victims. This is great news, as vengeance or retaliation towards your ex, no matter how he has harmed you is never for you to exact. That is Gods job- so leave it to him!
It is very liberating to not only give your troubles to God, but justice. At least has been my experience, the legal and justice system fails abused women and children with alarming frequency. It is good to know that God will take care of things, in his own way and his own time. Gods way is always higher than a human way! When the police and courts fail, just know God will sort things out! God will be on YOUR side. Keep protecting yourself and your children, stand up for what is right. Just let God handle the details. It may not work out how or when you expect, but God works all things for good in the end. That is the hope that lives in faith!
New Testament References
Luke 4:18 – Jesus quoted Isaiah in his first sermon in his hometown of Nazareth. It is interesting that he reads and quotes Isaiah, and is well received until he speaks of God loving and saving Gentiles- a widowed woman, and a leperous man. Jesus said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”.
Jesus said he came to give freedom for prisoners and release for the oppressed. Abuse victims often report feeling captive and oppressed in their relationships. Jesus freely offers us freedom from oppression!
Colossians 3:18-21 – “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” There are two important things to note here. First, we are to submit to our HUSBANDS, not any other dude. We are to submit ‘As it is fit in the Lord.” This means, we are NOT required to submit to our husbands sin. Verse 19 says, “Husbands, love your wives and be not bitter with them.” To be bitter with someone is to be unkind.
Lastly, in verse 21 “ Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Children who suffer abuse tend to suffer from anger troubles. Things like bullying, depression, anxiety, temper tantrums and other behaviour issues tend to be expressions of anger at abusive treatment. A husband/father is to love his wife and children not abuse them. Without a loving, non abusive relationship, it is impossible to honour or respect a man as God intended.
Ask, and it Will be Given. “Cash In” on Gods Promises
There are two daily practices of a Christian of strong and growing faith. These are reading/learning Gods word (the Bible) and prayer (talking to God). I don’t suggest spending hours and hours of time doing these things at first. But over the years, I have really grown to enjoy and look forward to my daily “time with God”. I would like to share with you some suggestions, for when you are going through difficulty.
First, many people have never actually READ the bible, cover to cover. I mean many CHRISTIANS have never read the bible! Talk about missing out! Think about it this way, the bible is where God talks to us.
1) Write out Gods Promises
There are over 8000 promises God makes to us in the Bible. One thing that is important to know is that God can not lie. He keeps his promises! I suggest you write out one promise a day. Do a google search, there are many lists of where to find Gods promises in the bible. I would suggest writing out your daily promise, and then spending just a few minutes to read the chapter that promise appears in and thinking about what is said.
Here are 5 foundational promises to start you off on the right foot!
1. God will always be at your side, and he will never abandon you. God will never leave you. Deuteronomy 31:6
2. God will make you strong and protect you from harm. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
3. Gods Grace is all you need. It is when you most need God he gives you the most strength. Isaiah 40:31
4. All human beings sin against God. If we confess to God, he will ALWAYS forgive us and take our sin away. 1 John 1:9
5. God will always love you. Ephesians 3:17-19
2) Follow a Daily Reading Plan
I love the Bible Recap by Tara-Leigh Cobble. It is either a podcast or a book. Tara-Leigh starts in Genesis every year in January, but you can just jump in wherever you are on the calendar. I love using the bible app on my phone, I will just navigate to the passage of study for the day.
I use my bible app to read the passage AND have it read aloud to me at the same time. Then I will either listen to the days podcast to expand on the reading or read the days study in the Bible Recap hardcover book I have.
I find that this is a very simple way to both read AND understand the bible in about 15 minutes a day. You will have read the WHOLE bible, AND understand it a year to the day after you start! I really look forward to my quiet cup of coffee and bible recap time each morning. Even though I have read through the bible dozens of times, I find this study method very refreshing. After I spend some time in Gods word, the next thing I do is pray.
Prayer Works- Really!
Praying 101- its not complicated!
Prayer really is not hard to do. All you need to do is talk to God! No thee and thou stuff required! God wants to listen to you! Just like any good father will always make time to listen to their children and meet them where they are at, just come as you are to speak with God.
God wants to have a genuine relationship with you. As you get to know and understand God more, your prayers will likely change. I know that mine did, when began to understand the magnitude of wonder that IS God. Just start where you are. Its OK to say “Hello God. I’m confused about you. I don’t know what to say. But I want to know you. I want to believe in you. Please help me to see you.”
Here is a helpful framework for prayer:
- Start with praise and gratitude. If you keep in mind that God created and owns EVERYTHING its easy to find things to praise and thank God for, even when your life is upside down. Thank God for being alive, your children, the fact that YOU are you, that your dog came when you called him, that you got paid, that your mom called, for the sunrise, the flower in your yard, your job, your friends- admire how loving and all powerful God is! Think about what happened yesterday or what you expect to happen today, thank God and be grateful. Thank him for the promises he made. Thank him for the hope you have.
- Confess your sins. We all sin, every day. Did you think something nasty about your ex when he did or said something unjust? Did you get short with your kids? Are you angry with God about something? Did you tell a little white lie? Did you NOT do something that you know you should have? Maybe you were late for work and did not help your kid with her homework. God calls us to live the best lives we can in word, thought and action. If you did not have a perfect day, you sinned. Who has a perfect day, ever? Certainly not ME! Confess your sin, and God WILL forgive you. Ask him to help you change so can learn and grow more, and sin less. Really, this is a very self empowering part of prayer. Release your sin, release your guilt and trust God to help you be more holy (set apart) to serve him. Yes, we are called to be a peculiar people. In todays self centred world, it is a little strange to be living for something much bigger and better than YOU!
- Ask for what you need. In Mathew 7:7 Jesus said:“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”… What that means is God will give you what you NEED, without fail. God will give you what you want, if and when what you want is aligned with his will and purpose for you. If you need a safe and comfortable home for you and your kids, God will make it happen. Maybe you WANT a million dollar mansion, well that is going to depend on your heart (why you want it) and if it is Gods will that you have that mansion. If you want it for God approved reasons, he may have a nicer one in mind for you! Just remember life is a LOT easier WITH God. Its awful difficult slugging if you trying to go at it alone! Keep in mind when you have unexpected results in life, he works ALL things for good for those who love him.
- LISTEN for Gods answer. Sit in stillness a few minutes and stop talking. Breathe and listen. God answers in different ways, sometimes I get an idea to resolve a problem, or I get a feeling, or I see or notice something I did not before. Recently, I have began to get what I can best describe is a warm shiver down my spine. I call it a “God Hug”! Over the years, as I have developed my “prayer muscle” it has gotten easier to hear God with certainty when he speaks.
- Finish with something like “I ask this Father, in the name of your son Jesus Christ”. Jesus is our mediator, we need him so God can hear us!
Sometimes it feels like God takes a long time to answer our prayers. I prayed for another child over 10 years. The wait made me feel truly blessed when my second child arrived perfect and healthy. Sometimes prayers are answered, but not how you expect. In my case, her father was physically and psychologically abusive. Sometimes the answer to prayer is “no”- because God has another (better) plan in mind.
Pray Over Everything, and Pray In Private
Really, I pray over just about everything. Even to say thank you God! What should I have for lunch today? Lord, should I take this job? Prayer does not need to be a chore. In fact, it is a joyful privilege, because prayer will change your life. Christians are to pray in private. So I have created a small, quiet prayer room in my basement. I tend to do my “formal” morning prayer and bible time there. If you call “formal” in my pjs, with a hot cup of coffee! I prefer to kneel when alone.
But during the course of the day, I pray “in my head”, as I am. I just bow my head quickly, and tend to leave my hands open, palms up. I try to be discrete, so I am not advertising to others that I AM praying. We are instructed to not be vain in prayer and fasting. I pray silently for example: When I eat (thank you!), when I get in the car (please get me to where I am going safe, on time etc), God help me to find my bank card! You get the picture.
Prayer is both a ritual and a habit you develop over time. Just start slow, try and pray intentionally once a day. Maybe start praying before you eat dinner. Learn to go to prayer when you feel emotional or upset. Before you know it, YOU will be saying “Prayer is simple! I pray all the time” too!
Pray the Psalms
The book of psalms, smack in the middle of the bible is Gods book of prayer. On really hard days, or when I just don’t know what to pray (with years of practice, this does not happen now, but when I was learning prayer, I used the psalms often!) I open the book of psalms. You might find it helpful to consult google for a “topical list of psalms”. This will more easily help you find a psalm about what challenge you have that day.
There are many “methods” to pray the psalms. This is what I prefer to do:
First, I ask God to bless the reading of his Word, and teach me what he wants me to know. Then I prayerfully (slowly, thoughtfully, reverently) read the psalm I have chosen out loud, word for word.
Then I go back again, and read silently. When I have a thought- often I can relate or identify with a psalm that I have chosen- I talk to God about it. I tend to find I pray the psalms when I am feeling emotional so when I am praying the psalms, I can be overjoyed, in tears etc. By the way, the psalms were originally written as hymns (songs) so there is NOTHING wrong if you want to sing the psalms!
Finally, as always I thank God for his Word and ask that he hear me, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour.
Here is an idea of how I have prayed the psalms. When I was fighting to leave my abusive ex, I prayed through psalm 91 most days for months. I have memorized it! I will post it here, as it may help and encourage you through hard times too.
1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Oh Father, you are in my heart, please keep us safe in your loving care;
2. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
I trust you Lord, give me strength and courage. Remind me of your presence. Help me feel your peace.
3 . Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
Help me to keep things calm at home, keep his temper tame, don’t let him twist my words, don’t have him yelling at us
4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Keep us safe Lord, I love to think of being safe and warm, close to you. Keep your word in my mind so I know and live the truth. Protect my children, Lord. Keep them safe, cover them with your love and command their angels to protect them.
5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Lord, let me be fearless when he is irritated or stomping around or yelling. I know fear casts out love. No matter what happens, let me be love. Help me to stay calm and quiet to not upset him. Keep my heart centred on your love night and day, come what may.
6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Lord, please no pestilence or distraction! Keep us healthy! Make us strong.
7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Lord, if he throws anything at me, don’t let it break!
8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Yes, Lord I know the reward of the wicked will not be a good thing. I’m happy you see the results of evil and not me!
9. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
I am grateful for your grace, Lord. Thank you for your love and protection.
10. There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
Thank you Lord for keeping evil away and keeping Covid out of our house!
11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
Thank you Lord for sending your angels to watch over us, guide us and keep us safe.
12. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thank you Angels for keeping us safe from harm, from all hurts
13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Thank you for making our big problems into small challenges. Thank you for taking away my worries and fears, Lord.
14. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
Yes, Father I do love you. Please deliver us from this wicked man, please put is in a safe place.
15. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
Yes Lord I am calling on you, please answer me and be with us during these hard last days with X.
16. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
Yes, Lord give me a long life to raise my girls and keep them safe and healthy. Yes, when my time comes I want to come home to you.
These days, I tend to often focus on Psalm 118. It feels like it is very personal and applicable to my life right now!
In Conclusion of How God Helps During Hardship and leaving an abusive Relationship
Mama, I encourage you during this time of transition to let faith be your fortress. Get to know God and reach out to him. Begin to understand how much God loves YOU! Know that if you put your trust and faith in God, he will see you through. Its simple to take a short amount of time for your soul each day to listen and talk to God through bible study and prayer.
My wish is that you know the Love, Peace and Joy that can only be found in Jesus as you strive bravely towards your new single life! Please, if I can offer you support or prayer, I welcome you to reach out to me.