Mary and John joined a mission work. They were excited about their ministry in which they would work shoulder to shoulder.
But, now on a mission field far from home, they were under the director’s seeming complete control. Their work visa, their house, their children in the mission school. Everything was controlled in some way by the mission agency.
And the director abused his authority and created daily drama in their lives. He lied. He manipulated. And he isolated them.
There a number of ways those, who are abused in the home or workplace, are isolated by their abusers. Isolation provides secrecy and a means for the abuser to remain unaccountable for his sin. So, abusers may isolate his victim –
- Spiritually – The abuser may use scripture to control and manipulate, twisting it to suit his own needs. He seeks to isolate you from the Lord by suggesting God is on his side and not yours.
- Relationally / Emotionally – The abuser may continually remind the victim about her lack of support from others. “Everyone else thinks you are wrong,” he may say though it is just a lie. He wants you to think you must stick with him because no one else has your back.
- Physically – The victim may be held in a prison of the home and kept from engaging with other people. Or, the victim may be far from home on the mission field and have few options to reach out or get home to those who can help. An abuser knows this and takes advantage of it.
- Financially – The abuser may hold the purse strings, keeping financial accounts secret or only allowing an allowance. If you have no financial independence or choices, you are dependent on him.
Each of these isolation techniques can be overwhelming.
But, Jesus knows our isolation.
When Jesus was on the cross, He “cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?‘”
This cry of despair came just before He died.
Jesus’ agonizing cry of isolation came when He probably felt completely alone in His incredible sufferings. Both Mark and Matthew make the point leading up to this exclamation that all who sat down by His cross, or were passing by, were ridiculing Him. They were making fun of Him.
Not only was Jesus suffering great physical pain with nails in his hands and feet, but incredible isolation from fellow humans. Again, both Mark and Matthew record that even His supporters – women who had followed him through thick and thin – sat a distance off from Him.
I can’t help but think that Mark and Matthew wanted to make a point by the use of their terms that show Jesus’ isolation. Likely, the women knew there was danger in being too closely alligned with this condemned man.
Add to his relational isolation from people the isolation when it seems God is far off. “Why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried out to His Father.
Jesus was quoting from His ancestor, King David when the king was also in despair.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Psalm 22:1-2 (ESV)
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Jesus, like David, felt the isolation that is complete when even God (Emmanuel – God with us) does not seem to be with us. God, the One Who can truly save. The One powerful enough and loving enough to save does not save.
That is truly isolation.
It is bad enough when men (and women) all around us do not believe our story of abuse in the home or workplace. When they pull back because of discomfort in hearing our story or the church excommunicates you because you seek freedom from your oppressor.
But, when you feel that not even God is answering your cries for help? That is isolation.
As God’s people we need to stand by those who have suffered the violence of emotional, spiritual, sexual, economic, or physical abuse. We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus as He calls us to always stand by these who are being crushed.
That may mean we stand in the gap formally or informally.
We may be called by the LORD to be an intermediary (advocate) between a church’s leadership and a victim. Or just be present in court appearances with a victim. Or present a structured separation to the abuser. Or stand up to their boss or board of directors on their behalf.
Each of these should be done wisely and at the direction of the victim. Their safety – in the home or in the workplace – must be the goal of our taking a stand.
Even so, as God’s people stand in the gap, the isolation can be intense and deeply felt. As those on the outside, be cognizant of the victim’s pain, and patiently bear with the abused as they heal. It can be a long and difficult process to once again really experience and know God’s constant presence.
There is more to the story.
As we have walked alongside those under abusive leadership in the home or workplace, we have seen the joy that comes in the morning. The isolation, sometimes seemingly unending, does come to an end.
Because, God is never gone.
For those He calls His own, He never rejects or leaves. He will never leave nor forsake you, child of the one true King. This is one of the greatest of trues from the Word. God with us!
David goes on in his psalm to say,
In you our fathers trusted;Psalm 22:4-5 (ESV)
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
David knows from experience that God does and will rescue in time. All Israel had known the presence and liberation of the LORD from their slavery to abusers in Egypt.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning,” David says in Psalm 30.
Joy will come in the morning. The heartache and isolation felt now will be relieved. Other people, including your parents or children, may not believe you. But, your God, in Whom you trust, is there with you and will remain with you no matter how you feel.
And He brings deliverance whether in life or in death.
You are not and will never be alone, child of the King.