James 1:2-4 ESV
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Mental and Emotional Abuse
A lot of times when we hear about Christian persecution the picture that we normally seem to get is of people under fire literally from threats against their physical lives, running from their enemies, hiding out, meeting in secret, getting blown to smithereens, and having their heads cut off, etc. But not all persecution and not all abuse is physical. Thus, not all of it can be proven, either, for there is no physical proof and usually no witnesses.
Some persecutors who are abusers do their persecution and abuse in private and often will only target one person or individuals who they can get alone to where there are no witnesses. And not only is the abuse (persecution) not of a physical nature, but it isn’t all overt or loud and boisterous. Some of it is expressed indirectly instead of directly, but at the root of it is a deep seated anger and/or resentment and bitterness and hostility against someone which may or may not be the targeted person.
Some of the ways that this is done is through confusion tactics, saying one thing and then contradicting or pretending it was not said and then blaming the other person. Or it is done through snide and biting remarks intended to hurt the other person. The abuser also lays traps and attempts to trick the other person into falling into the trap, which is usually not an obvious trap, and sometimes this is done through gaining sympathy from the targeted person. Another term for this is “gas-lighting.”
In other words, a lot of this is psychological persecution, toying with people’s minds and emotions rather than in physical attacks. These people are liars and deceivers whose goal it is to hurt others emotionally and to attempt to confuse them mentally. And it is to manipulate people’s minds and emotions and to attempt to sway them in a particular way. The abuser may be one person with some people and a different person with other people.
These abusers and persecutors are able to abuse without conscience and with no regret and with no compassion or sympathy towards those who they persecute. They are totally self-consumed and they use other people to get what they want out of them for their own sinful pleasures. They feed off of other people’s misfortunes and prior abuses and attempt to take advantage of them rather than to empathize with them.
They don’t take responsibility for their own behaviors and they will be filled with continual excuses for why they are the way they are and for why they have not changed, but they will repeat the same excuses over and over like a broken record, and they will tell the same lies over and over, and they will put on a show of goodness and righteousness to other people who will then think that they are godly and that they are good when they are abusers.
If they can’t get their target to cater to them they have ways of exacting punishment on them that is emotional and mental and not physical in nature, and this is intended as a means to control them and to get them to do what they want them to do. They will devise subversive schemes to make their targets’ lives miserable such as saying one thing but doing another, blaming, stalling, excuse-making, and pretending ignorance as though they are hearing or experiencing something for the first time when it is not the first time but times repeated times over 100.
This is all about gaining control over the other person or people. And so they intentionally do what they know will hurt the other person (or people) emotionally and/or mentally in order to gain control over them, for that purpose. So they will lie to the person and they may sometimes tell lies about the other person to other people in order to get other people to think badly of the other person and to think good thoughts about the abuser. Mind games and tricks are their tools for persecution and abuse, in other words.
Jesus’ persecutors played mind games, too. Most of their persecution of Jesus had to do with laying mental traps for him to fall into, trying to trick him and to trip him up with his words, making false accusations against him, trying to make him look bad in front of others so that they could discredit him, and twisting the truth as a way to try to confuse and trick him, etc. But Jesus knew what they were doing and so he did not fall for their tricks and their traps, but that just made them more angry to the point to where eventually they had him put to death in order to attempt to silence him.
So, please know that not all persecution is physical in nature and there are a lot of people hurting in silence for they have no way to prove that they are being persecuted. But please also know that you may be being tricked and deceived, too, and you may not even realize it is happening to you. For Satan’s messengers disguise themselves as servants of righteousness and their goal is to trick and trap you in their divisive schemes. So this is why we need to test the spirits against the Scriptures and pray for discernment.
James 1:12 ESV
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
At least once Jesus told his disciples that if they were persecuted in one place that they could wipe the dust from their sandals (Matt 10:14,23) and that they could flee to another place. Sometimes Paul remained where he was being persecuted and sometimes he fled, and even sometimes where he fled he then returned, knowing full well that he might be persecuted again. So, this calls for much wisdom and discernment to know when we are to flee and when we are to remain and to trust the Lord to work it all out for good.
But even if we flee, it doesn’t mean we are free from being persecuted. For Jesus told us that if we follow him with our lives that we will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake and for the sake of his name. And so we could go from bad to worse if we flee out of fear. And this is why we need to trust the Lord through it all to give us his wisdom and guidance and direction and to teach us what we need to learn and to mature us in our walks of faith and to make us into the people he wants us to be for his purposes and glory.
So, don’t flee out of fear. Trust the Lord to lead you into what is best for you, and then remain steadfast in the Lord despite your trials and persecutions and keep loving those who hate and persecute you. And learn to count it all joy when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, because the purpose is the testing of our faith that it might produce steadfastness in us, that we might be mature and complete, lacking in nothing in our relationships with our Lord and in our walks of faith and obedience. And then one day we will be with our Lord forever and all suffering will cease. Amen!
[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]
Sweet Beulah Land
By Squire Parsons
I’m kind of homesick for a country
To which I’ve never been before.
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken
For time won’t matter anymore.
I’m looking now, just across the river
To where my faith, shall end in sight
There’s just a few more days to labor.
Then I will take my heavenly flight.
Beulah Land I’m longing for you
And some day on thee I’ll stand
There my home shall be eternal
Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land
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