It’s disheartening to see how domestic violence has caused so much pain in the lives of many Jamaicans. A local newspaper in 2018 told the sad tale of a woman who “was allegedly stabbed to death by her husband” (The Gleaner,2018). Once again, another victim of domestic violence.
What caught my interest was the report of her professing to be a “daughter of the living God” on her Facebook page. I took this news very hard. I never believed that an alleged Christian could have suffered such a terrible death.
The wrestle of reconciliation
As one who has been a victim of domestic violence, I have to wrestle with the contrary desires of wanting to cut all ties with the perpetrator and seeking reconciliation. Many would ask why this is a struggle. Why would you want to reconcile with someone who abused you?
However, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am constantly challenged by the Holy Spirit to love, forgive and reconcile. Often, my desire to cut ties with the perpetrator is rebutted by the word, which challenges me to honor the individual (Ephesians chapter 6, verse 2). This tends to leave me in tears as my heart is telling me that the individual isn’t deserving of my respect and submission, but the scriptures and the Holy Spirit is suggesting otherwise.
One day I asked God this question; are all relationships reconcilable? This question came to mind as I thought about what counsel I would give to another who is experiencing domestic violence. However, upon further reflection, I asked a further two questions; will all relationships be reconciled? And how do I know whether to leave the relationship, or stay and seek reconciliation?
Are all relationships reconcilable? Yes!
The cross represents the greatest act of reconciliation known to all creation. (2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 18) tells us that God not only reconciled us to Himself, but He also entrusts us with the ministry of reconciliation. However, finding meaning in this verse can prove a challenge amid the abuse.
I found it impossible to reconcile with someone who abuses others physically, verbally and sexually. There is nothing in them which suggest they are worth reconciling with. However, “with man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” (Mathew chapter 19, verse 26).
I have learnt that for reconciliation to be possible, Jesus must be at the center of our efforts. Only he can allow us to see these individuals as sinners in need of his grace and direction and empower us to love them. Also, He is the only one who can heal our broken heart (Psalm chapter 147, verse 3) from the aftermath of domestic violence.
There is no doubt that the pain of living through domestic violence is hard to digest; but, when our souls are weary of sorrow, God is more than willing to strengthen us with his word (Psalm chapter 119, verse 28). Yet….
Will all relationships be reconciled? Sadly, No!
Man’s heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah chapter 17, verse 9); that is our reality under the sun. There are some individuals who won’t change. They even go as far as using our shortcomings to justify their actions.
David experienced a hostile relationship with Saul. Saul, out of envy, intensely disliked David. As a result, David had to temporarily leave Israel as Saul purposed in his heart to kill him (1 Samuel chapter 19).
Wow! That’s tough. Saul was David’s Father-in-law and king. I can only imagine the conflict in David’s heart as this was someone whom God required him to honor and submit to, yet he was a threat to his life.
From David’s story, God has taught me two lessons in leaving hostile relationships. Firstly, we always leave room for God’s wrath (Romans chapter 12, verse 19). Then, we cleave as graciously as possible with the door wisely open for reconciliation.
This is easier said than done as leaving can be hard, inconvenient and sometimes life-threatening. However, we fear not (less) because God is with us. We press on believing that God’s peace and comfort can overcome any thoughts of regret, revenge or bitterness that fight for the throne of our hearts. So…
How do I know whether to leave the relationship, or stay and seek reconciliation?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom...” (Proverbs chapter 1, verse 7).
I believe that God’s wisdom must take precedence over any feelings we have or any advice we get from friends or lobby group, but these must never be ignored. God is Sovereign! He is more than capable of humbling the one who constantly abuses you; however, he is just as capable of changing their heart. For me, the internal conflict described earlier persists. Yet, through it all, God has thought and challenged me a lot; and he continues to provide friends and a loving church community.
I encourage you to pray, wait and believe when unsure as to what to do. Persistently pray to God expressing your heart and concerns to him. Humbly wait for God to respond to your cries knowing that He cares about them. Finally, believe in God’s promise to be with, sustain and empower us to the end, irrespective of the path he is leading us to.
Finally, remain steadfast in prayer, resist the devil and humbly submit to God, and love hard even when it’s hard.
Akeel Henry is a prisoner of hope. He enjoys sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with all individuals. He is currently a trained biochemist who aspires to become a medical doctor and pastor in the future. He believes that the secret to contentment is a moment by moment dependence on God’s grace, power and provisions.