2Co 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, (4) who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (5) For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (6) If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
The only reason that I am able to offer the Lord’s comfort to the victims of RASNs is because the Lord has permitted RASNs (emissaries of the devil) to afflict me these past 40 years of pastoral ministry. Very few of these evil ones have been from outside my circle. Almost all have been either family or, most typically, professing Christians planted by the evil one in the church. In the midst of that suffering, the Lord has always sustained myself and my wife and children, and the few faithful brothers and sisters who have stood with us.
Sometimes, and you will know exactly what I am speaking about – sometimes these wicked attacks replay like a looped video in my mind. And when they do I can become rather unpleasant myself. Has this happened to you? We can snap at some innocent person in those times and I have to fight down my flesh to bite my tongue. I certainly don’t want to be snappy with any of you but I confess I am capable of it. I can sometimes come to the blogs I write or check my email and be in a mode of “alright, when is the next attack coming?”
Now I say all of that not to focus upon myself, but to just tell you that in so many ways I am just like you. In other words, I do understand what has happened to you and it is only because the Lord has sent…I can’t even count them all…so many evil ones my way in the churches I have pastored. But every single time, the Lord has given victory. The gates of hell have not prevailed. And as a result, I can provide you with comfort with the same comfort the Lord comforted me with.
Let me give you a sample list and I really do mean it is a very, very abbreviated list – of some of the RASN attacks that have been launched at myself, my wife, and my few faithful brothers and sisters over the years. Ready? –
- A covert narcissist accused me of not “preaching sermons the people want to hear” and the rest of the church board were cowardly and refused to stand up to him. He still controls that church 40 years later now.
- A wicked man organized a group of about one third of our first church, marched them all into a congregational meeting, lined up in the back row, and started a raging argument over my salary. All of this in front of me and my wife and children. They all left the church for good afterward.
- A wicked Diotrephes (see 3 John) barged up to the pulpit in a Sunday service, railed at me in front of the congregation – “he doesn’t even give us credit for building this building!” then stormed out never to return. These kind usually have deluded themselves into believing the entire church will go with them.
- A professional counselor and seminary graduate, member of the church board, marched in one Sunday and said in front of others, “you have no qualifications to be a pastor.” [note that NONE of these people were ever disciplined by the church boards]
- A church officer accused me of abandoning the flock when my wife and I were able to buy our own home south of the church building location. He did this in front of the rest of the church board. No one called him on it.
- Another church officer came into my office with his wife and said “if you don’t handle this situation the way we are telling you to, we are going to leave this church and pretty soon only you and a few people will be left. This church will just dwindle away and die.” It has dwindled. But it hasn’t died.
On and on and on I could go. This is not even a tenth of the incidents of Satan’s attacks. I know what betrayal is. I know what it is to be accused of the very evils that the RASN is guilty of. I know what economic hardship and abuse is like. I know what it is to have RASNs alienate people from me. I know what it is to go into public places and run into demons. But this is all the Lord’s doing – it is how He raised up this ministry to help abuse victims. I had to taste it all myself. It has been bitter. But I can tell you that the Lord sustained us and He is continuing to do so.
And He will sustain you too. Trust Him, no matter how rough it gets. He always has a reason for our good for letting Satan touch us, just as He did in Job’s case. He knows. He sees. And He promises:
Isa 54:17 no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.”