Why Are Some of God’s Elect Born Into Abusive Families?

Steve, I read your answer to the question, “If the Elect Overcame in the First Age Why Do They Have to Go Through the Pain and Suffering of this Flesh Age?”

My question is similar:

Why are some of us born into abusive families?  What’s the point of it?  What am I supposed to learn from it?

I love the Lord.  I understand His plan.  I want to do more to participate in it.  But I can’t shake the emotional upheaval I was put through as a child.  It seems like I suffered from it once, as a child, and now I have to continue suffering from it for the rest of my life.


Rickie S.

Steve’s Answer:

Rickie, I’ll tell you what I’ve told others who have asked this same question.  Over the years I’ve become convinced that Satan sometimes uses these past traumas — especially those caused by family or trusted friends — as a tool to keep us focused solely on the flesh, and not on the Spirit.

That way, we can never realize our full potential as servants of Christ.  Satan tries to get us “dialed in” and keep us “locked in” to our past pain and suffering, so we can’t effectively focus on waging spiritual warfare against him in the here and now.

Satan’s Role in the Abuse

I’m 65 years old now.  But when I was a much younger man, I used to be very hurt and angry inside, at my parents, for many of the traumatic things that happened due to their alcoholism when I was a child. But our heavenly Father showed me that Satan had attacked my parents with alcoholism…because of me.

In other words, Satan knows who opposed him in the world that was. He knows they’re the ones with the testimony from God that seals his fate.

So when the elect are born into this flesh world to help in the battle against Satan, he looks for weaknesses in the family unit raising the child, and then exploits those weaknesses.  He does whatever he can to corrupt the family bond and put the family into physical and emotional disarray.


Because he knows that if he can create intense emotional conflict and trauma in our lives when we’re young, he can trigger that ongoing “war between our ears” that for the rest of our lives will keep us emotionally focused on the past traumas, always feeling sorry for ourselves rather than being single-mindedly focused on the spiritual warfare we were sent here to engage in, in the first place.

Father gradually showed me that my anger at my parents for their alcoholic behavior was misplaced.  After all, my folks were attacked by Satan with alcoholism and other problems largely because God had chosen them to raise me.  I’d never considered that before.  But over the years I’ve come to realize how true it is.

Yes, while growing up I suffered due to my folk’s alcoholism. But my folks suffered, too.  In fact, they suffered first, and hardest.

Satan made their lives miserable with alcoholism, not because they were any great threat to him — they weren’t even very religious — but because he knew they were raising me, and that I would be a threat to him later down the road.

And he hoped that creating some early childhood trauma in my life would drive me into perpetual morbid self-pity and derail me from finding and serving the Lord, and fulfilling my destiny.

I think many of the elect have had similar childhood experiences, but may not realize why.  They might still be holding on to the trauma and abuse, which is exactly what Satan wants, because it very effectively distracts our focus from engaging in the real battle we were sent here to fight.

Of course, Satan always underestimates our heavenly Father, Who rescues and heals His elect, in His own time, and gradually enlightens us, setting us on the right track through His Holy Spirit of Truth, so we can be useful to Him on this earth.

Fight the Right Enemy; Forgive the Rest

After our heavenly Father helped me, as an adult, understand Satan’s hidden role in what had happened to me at home when I was a child, I sincerely forgave my folks for their alcoholic behavior, and turned the anger in my heart against Satan instead of them.

After all, Satan is the destroyer of families. And he has no remorse over what he’s done, or how many lives he’s damaged and destroyed. So I have no remorse whatsoever about hating him, and beating his ass, spiritually, every chance I get, through Father’s Word.

Interestingly, when I finally understood enough, spiritually, to truly forgive my folks for their alcoholic behavior as well as for the life-long trauma it caused, our heavenly Father stepped in and gradually restored my relationship with them, and healed both of them of their alcoholism.

Then, over time, Father awakened two more family members, a brother and a sister, who began studying the Bible.  And He brought me a wife who also loves God’s Word more than anything else.  Father even awakened my mom to His Word, and she became a daily Bible study student for many years until her death this past July.

Look, all of these thing happened over a period of years.  It was not instantaneous.  But He did it.  And it was wonderful to behold and experience.

And I believe with all of my heart that none of these good things would have happened in my family if I’d have continued holding hatred and anger in my heart, rather than Christian forgiveness and understanding.

Forgiveness Works

So I always tell my Christian friends who are suffering from past childhood trauma and abuse that forgiveness has far more benefits than most people realize.  Forgiveness releases the individual you’re forgiving from Satan’s grasp, and puts him or her back into Father’s hands where salvation is still possible for them.

Satan may have taken them prisoner, and may have been, or still be, actively using them.  But you can release them from his grasp, through forgiveness. The power to release them is literally in your hands (Matthew 16:19).

I was never again furious at my folks for what I’d been through as a child, once I realized that Satan had first worked to destroy their lives, in order to ruin my own.  They took quite a beating.  And unbeknownst to me at the time, the beating they took was on my behalf.  Satan attacked them, often relentlessly, because they were raising me.

As elect, we need to remember that in the first age, Father empowered us and used us to help bring about Satan’s failure. And Father still empowers and uses us for that same purpose to this very day.  You don’t think Satan knows this?  He’s known it since the world that was, when you first stood against him as he attacked Father’s throne in heavens.

What’s more, when Satan is finally here on this earth in his role as the false messiah, our heavenly Father will use us to deliver the very message that brings the Satanic beast system down for good, and wakens people to the deception they’ve succumbed to (Mark 13:11; Luke 21:12-15).

So, for the wise anyway, it should come as no surprise that Satan attacks us and our families, sometimes quite ruthlessly, and for some of us the attacks might start from the very moment our souls are placed in that womb.

Always remember that first verse of Genesis chapter 3, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.”  The word “subtil” means cunning, or crafty.  You’d better believe he is.  And he has a very long-term view, in terms of strategy against the Lord and His earthly servants.

Spiritual PTSD

So, it’s my contention that Satan sometimes attacks our families in order to traumatize us, because he knows that no good soldier in battle can function effectively against the enemy if they’re suffering from long-term mental, emotional and spiritual PTSD.

In other words, when we’re young, Satan often attacks the family unit in order to make sure trauma, pain and suffering are imprinted into our very psyches before we mature enough to learn God’s Word and fight back.

That way, he derails us.  He keeps us locked into anger and self-pity, when we should be focused on “taking names and kicking dragon.”

Satan is absolutely desperate to keep us down.  So, if we’re wise, as Christians, we put the blame for our family and early childhood traumas where it rightly belongs, i.e., on Satan himself, and we forgive those who Satan used against us, especially when it’s family, loved ones or friends.  Forgiveness truly seems to be the key.  Never forget:

Mat 6:14  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:


Mat 6:15  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgive them for what they did to you.  Then, forgive yourself for hating them so much over it, and for wallowing in self-pity for so long .  Then start kicking dragon.

And by the way, in saying all of this I’m not trying to justify the harm done to children living in abusive circumstances.  God forbid.  My heart goes out to every one of them, daily.

I’m just saying that in the case of God’s elect, maybe…just maybe…at least some of the abuse we’ve suffered at the hands of others was because Satan was ruthlessly using them against us in a bid to distract and derail us from discovering our destiny, and effectively taking our stand against him during our relatively short time on this earth. 

Focus on the Real Enemy
and Father Will Take Care of the Rest

So we need to set our gun sights, so to speak, on the real enemy.  Forgive others.  You don’t have to worry that by forgiving them they’ve “gotten away with” anything.  They haven’t.

Our heavenly Father keeps really good books (Revelation 20:12).  And He reads the very hearts and minds of His children.  He’s knows every one of His children to the very depths of their souls.  And He’s quite capable of making sure everyone gets their just rewards or punishments.  And everyone certainly will.

But your kind act of forgiveness of those who have abused you — which, quite frankly, costs you nothing but some emotional capital — might be exactly what breaks the bondage they’re in, and saves them from Satan’s grasp.

Wouldn’t you like that to be on your record books in heaven?

Meanwhile, we have a job to do, and a battle to fight — quite literally the most serious battle in the history of this world.  And we can’t do an effective job of spiritual combat if we’re willingly keeping ourselves locked into past trauma, anger and self-pity.

Always remember the following verses:

Php 1:29  For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

John 16:33
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”


Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

We’re in this flesh age only briefly, compared to the eternity. And part of our life here involves suffering and tribulation because of our intense love for the Lord and His Word.

That’s because Satan is the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4) and this world is not our home (Philippians 3:20; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Peter 2:11-12; 1 John 2:15; John 15:19; John 17:14-16).  And because it’s not our home, our presence is not very much appreciated here.

In other words, teaching the truth of the Gospel of Christ in this world can really trip some triggers among Satan’s minions, both flesh and spiritual.  And they’ll attack you for it, sometimes in ways you’d never suspect.

So never forget that you’re here for spiritual warfare.  Not a party.  If you’ll always keep that in mind, you’ll be far less surprised, and far less emotionally de-stabilized, when the attacks come.  And they will indeed come, if you’re a serious student of God’s Word, an effective teacher of God’s Word, an effective prayer warrior, or an effective seed-planter.

One Final Thought…

I’ll add one more personal thought:

When you first volunteered to come into this flesh age on Father’s behalf (i.e., Isaiah 6:8), to aid in His great plan to save His children, do you think Father failed to tell you about the troubles you’d be facing and the suffering you’d endure?

Of course He didn’t fail to tell you.  Yet here you are.  And He wouldn’t have sent you, and given you eyes to see and ears to hear, if He didn’t know in advance that you could handle it.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Pastor Arnold Murray has a great taped Bible study called “Why Does God Do This to Me?” (tape #30823).  The tape is available through the Shepherd’s Chapel (1-800-643-4645).

I highly recommend it to any who might be suffering. I listened to it back in 1988, and found it to be a huge help.  You might, too.

Regards in Christ,

Steve Barwick


Steve Barwick

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