For those suffering at the hands of narcissists – scoffers with insolent pride – a common question is “why”? Why is God allowing this in my life?
There are many things to consider, but one answer is that it could be part of His discipline. Those that are struggling to overcome a view of God as a big “punisher”, or who do not like the idea that God allows any pain into a person’s life, will struggle with this. To be clear, God is a God of love and acts out of His fundamental goodness. But sometimes that goodness means discipline (Hebrews 12), and He uses various means as part of the process.
The Biblical foundation for this is Hosea 7:5, which says that “….He stretched out his hand with scoffers”. Just like in everything else, God can use scoffers as tools for His purposes.
We saw this in the case of David and Absalom. When David sinned with Bathsheba, God told David through the prophet Nathan.
Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’
Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’”
2 Samuel 12:9-12
This happened. David’s son Absalom was narcissistic, to the point that he even weighed his cut hair to show how lush it was (2 Samuel 14:26). 2 Samuel describes other examples of Absalom’s narcissistic traits. Absalom’s narcissism led him to seek to overthrow David to become king, resulting in David fleeing Jerusalem to escape. God ultimately delivered David out of Absalom’s hand, but not before God had used Absalom – to discipline David for his sin.
This was a Biblical case study. I also know of two cases close to home. I am by no means saying that every narcissist in our life is God’s punishment for something we’ve done in the past. Absolutely not. But it is possible.
How do we respond to this? The normal tools for dealing with narcissists (addressed in this blog and in the book “A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism”) are appropriate. In addition we should consider the admonition in Hebrews:
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are punished by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He punishes every son whom He accepts.”
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. For the moment, all discipline seems not to be pleasant, but painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is impaired may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
Pay particular attention to the last phrase in Hebrews 12:13. How do we respond? “Make straight paths for your feet” – live a life of righteousness – “so that the limb which is impaired (lame) may not be dislocated (permanently injured), but rather be healed.”
David and Absalom