Women who are being abused are often unaware of the unspeakable deception they are experiencing. We’ve all said it before: “He’s a good guy, he just does bad things.” Right?
However, from a safe emotional distance, a woman can begin to see truth more clearly, and in addition, process it more accurately with a fresh perspective. Little white lies can now be seen as obvious cover ups. Inconsistencies become glaring proof of a lack of commitment. And once the veil begins to fall, she will eventually wonder, “How did I not see this before?”
Oh, darlin’, if this is you, I’m with you. It’s just the nature of deception; you don’t know it’s happening until it’s too late.
Once a woman begins to discover she is being used as a pawn in an abuser’s game of manipulation and self-fulfillment, she may experience waves of confusion. She doubts whether or not she can trust herself, and wonders if she can ever trust her abuser (or any other person for that matter) again.
But when we place our trust God, it becomes far easier to discern His presence in the lives of others, and know with whom we should align ourselves.
You Can’t Trust Yourself.
Proverbs 28:26 says that “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.”
Wha?! Like what about all those songs about listening to your heart and believing in yourself?
Well, it’s probably stuff like that that gets us in situations that are bad for us. And that’s because, as Jeremiah 17:9 puts it, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (NKJV).
Desperately wicked! I don’t think I’d trust someone else if I knew up front that their defining feature was wickedness. But that’s what’s inside of each of us. The Bible tells us there’s nothing inherently good inside our selves, apart from God.
In Romans 7:8, Paul says, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (ESV). In our inherent, sinful nature, good doesn’t just come out of us. We can will ourselves to do things that look good in our own strength, but that kind of thing never lasts.
The good news is that when we give our lives to Jesus, He not only gives us the gift of eternal life, but makes us “wise, acceptable, and holy” (1 Cor 1:30, CEV) in this life. Simply put, anything good and trustworthy about you is not from you. It’s from God.
Which also means you can’t trust anyone else either.
So if you, apart from God, are inherently untrustworthy, you know what I’m going to say about your husband (or your ex). Or anyone else for that matter.
Jeremiah 9:4 says, “Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.“ Jeremiah was speaking of the disobedient nations of Israel and Judah who had turned their backs on God. But the point is well taken today- if you are dealing with a person who isn’t godly, it’s probably not a good idea to trust them.
So does this mean we have to walk around fearful of people around us? No. But if we realize that it’s only God within us that we can trust of ourselves, we understand that what we’re looking for in trusting another person is not the person himself (or herself) but God inside that person.
Trusting in God (and God in Others)
Apart from God’s power in our lives through the work of the Holy Spirit, there’s really nothing worth trusting in ourselves or others. After all, Psalm 118:8 says, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (NKJV). And though we know humans are going to make mistakes, we know those mistakes are more often than not going to be minimized and handled rightly when we are dealing with people who are truly walking with the Lord.
So how can we measure that?
Earlier in Psalm 118, the Psalmist says in verse 7, “the Lord is for me among those who help me.” We see the active work of God through the lives of others who are submitted to His leading. We already know we can’t place our trust in someone who is in the flesh (because, as Paul said, there’s nothing good in that). We can’t really trust a man, only God within a man. It’s someone walking in the Spirit that we can feel good about partnering with for this reason:
When it comes to trust, the Spirit abiding in us connects us with His same Spirit abiding in another person.
Mind blown, right!?
And the best part about knowing whether or not someone is walking in the Spirit is that it’s totally NOT ambiguous. There is evidence. The Bible gives us a checklist of what to watch for in a person’s behavior- maybe you’ve heard of it? Fruit of the Spirit, anyone?
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. If you’re dealing with someone who is objectively exhibiting these traits in increasing measure, you’ve got a good candidate to work with. And I’m not talking about showing these traits in “their way.” We’re talking about God’s way, compared to God’s standard.
God’s Promises (and Rewards!) For Those Who Trust in Him
After enduring intense psychological brutality, trusting God can be a challenge (let alone trusting God within another person). When faced with persistent lies and abuse, it can be difficult to know what God thinks about our situation and what His will is. But I promise, in all of it, He is good. He has a plan. And He wants you to trust Him to work it all out- for your good (Romans 8:28).
The Bible tells us that God rewards those who trust him. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (NIV).
All Joy. Peace. Hope overflowing.
Now I know all these sound well and good, but to a woman who is suffering abuse, they may seem of little consolation when you are utterly trapped in a terrifying relationship. Now first, let me say that the hope, joy, and peace the Lord provides to the oppressed are of GREAT consolation, and the source of unimaginable empowerment. But there’s even more.
Psalm 37:40 says, “And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him” (NKJV).
Deliverance. I know you heard that one, girl.
And all of these are God’s promises to you, sister, when you trust in Him and His timing. Hallelujah! Trusting God bestows upon us incomparable treasure that trusting in ourselves and others does not. And when we trust God, we can recognize His presence in our own lives, and thereby receive the wisdom we need to discern His active presence in the lives of others we can feel good about partnering with.
Trusting God protects us, transforms us, and sets us free.
Has this helped you to understand the nature of trust in a different way? Tell us more in the comments- we’d love to hear your thoughts!
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