Authority, Divorce, Faith, God's Power, Healing and Reconciliation, Waiting on God

Our God is Able

For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

Isaiah 4:27

For so many standers, there are times when we start believing the lies of the enemy and begin to waiver in our confidence that the Lord will restore our marriages. We witness our circumstances changing from bad to worse on a daily basis and see the hearts of our prodigal spouses growing harder and harder. For some, the situations are compounded due to the fact that we have failed to exercise restraint and grace while interacting with our husbands and wives. While these events certainly don’t serve to help matters, they are in no way to be seen as a “deal breaker” as it concerns God and His designs for restoration.

I remember a specific event during the course of our separation that for a time, caused me to believe I had ruined my chances for a restored marriage. The memory remains quite vivid in my mind. The specifics won’t be shared here, but in short, I had violated one of the boundaries Amy put in place for me regarding how and when personal interactions would occur. While the motive for my actions were not wrong or sinful, it was nonetheless a misguided move on my part. After the event, I retreated to the place where I was staying and completely broke down, feeling as though all hope had become lost. I fell on my knees and wept uncontrollably thinking that this time I had really done it. I was convinced Amy would never trust me again and there was absolutely nothing that could change things.

In a moment of desperation, I reached out to my pastor who had been counseling me at the time. I tearfully shared what had happened. In a kind and loving way, he responded to my emotionally charged ramblings by assuring me that I didn’t have the power to change God’s will. There was nothing I could do to stop the Lord from achieving what He desired. Hearing this was both comforting and reassuring. I eventually took this truth to heart and gained the correct perspective as it related to the power of myself, versus the power of Almighty God.

When you think about it, the notion that we can blow it, really does seem silly. The One who spoke the world into existence cannot be prevented from bringing about His will. Even if our efforts to thwart God’s plans are intentional, they will ultimately fail. We cannot stop God from accomplishing what He has purposed to do.

It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Jeremiah 10:12-13

It’s not possible for us to control every situation. Even if our motivations and intent are godly and pure, sometimes conflict is unavoidable. This is most certainly the case when dealing with a prodigal spouse who is running from the Lord and looking for every conceivable way to accuse, blame, and mischaracterize our words and actions. I know in those heated moments it becomes so difficult to hold our tongues, but putting on the whole armor of God will serve to protect us from ourselves. With that said, it is of great comfort to know that even if we falter and react with our flesh rather than spirit, God is still faithful to overcome and compensate for our weaknesses and constant missteps.

If you are experiencing regret, and perhaps even hopelessness right now because of things you have said or done that you feel is jeopardizing your chances for restoration, do not be disheartened. Our God is loving, forgiving, compassionate and long suffering. He knows our weaknesses. He also understands the emotions and inner conflict we face in the heat of battle. There is no part of our identity or existence that escapes Him, and He generously extends His grace to us from a well that never runs dry. May we take comfort in this as our hearts and minds become conformed to His will.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson
Purposed Marriage

Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Judging, Suffering

Are You Really Sorry?

In this episode of the Purposed Marriage Podcast, we discuss the importance of genuine repentance and the role it plays in the process of reconciliation.

“I Want to Say I’m Sorry” by Andrew Peterson
youtu.be/ZEjf0oOBbe8

Divorce, Forgiveness, Marriage, Suffering

I’m Sorry

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:16

Coming to grips with the responsibility and role we may have played in helping create an environment fertile and ripe for divorce is a tough pill to swallow. Oftentimes we don’t become fully aware of how selfish and sinful behaviors can affect our spouses until it is too late. For me, when I finally looked in the mirror and became aware of what I had become, my wife’s heart had grown cold and calloused. Sadly, we hear so many similar stories from standers who waited too long before they realized the error and foolishness of their ways. So often it’s only when they’ve heard the words, “It’s over” does there become an awareness of the need for true and genuine repentance.

Shortly after being asked to leave our home, I desperately looked for ways to express sorrow and remorse to my wife. Phone calls, letters, text messages… I exhausted all the options I had at my fingertips. Nothing was getting through. I remember thinking to myself that if she only knew how sincere I was, her mind would change. But as the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and months into years, the more I realized and understood the unforgiveness reigning in her heart could not be brought down by mere words alone.

My pastor, who had been counseling with me at the time, shared a music video he thought I’d relate to. From the first moment I heard it, I was moved. So perfectly did this song capture what I was feeling and thinking on the inside, that it became an instant favorite and to this day, occupies a special place in my heart. The lyrics captured the very essence of my emotions at the time and effectively expressed what I was unable to with my own words.

Over the next several days, I found myself listening to this song constantly and felt a strong desire to share it with my wife. I hesitated and waffled back and forth over whether or not I should. Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and do it. In my text message to her, I remember saying something along the lines of, “This song was shared with me and I was deeply moved by it. It sums up what I’ve wanted to say to you for a long time.” I sent the message on a cool Saturday morning with low expectations for a positive reaction from Amy. A little while later, while on my way to a local park with our boys, I received a text message back simply saying, “Thank you for sharing this…” There was no sarcasm or anything close to what resembled so many of the other messages I’d been used to receiving. I was very grateful for this and thanked the Lord the communication was received with the right spirit. I prayed that God would take the song’s message and use it to speak to Amy’s heart.

We never spoke of that shared experience until after the Lord brought us back together. When we did, I was surprised to learn how deeply the song had moved her. Amy informed me that after hearing it for the first time, she finally began to understand how truly sorry I was for everything. Up to that point, she would have told you that any expressed sorrow on my end was done solely with the motivation of fixing our marriage. In other words, it wasn’t genuine. But after hearing the message of the song, her perspective dramatically changed. I was also quite surprised to learn that she would often cry herself to sleep at night while listening to it. Although the piece wasn’t enough to change her mind about going through with the divorce, it did ultimately have an impact. Over time, it served to help soften and quell the anger inside her heart. God used this powerful song to touch my prodigal. There is no doubt about it in my mind. To this day, I still get choked up and emotional when listening to it.

We can’t ever be sure of what or who God is going to use to help bring our prodigals home. One thing is certain though. He can use anything or anyone, even a song like this. Perhaps you find yourself in a situation where you are living with sadness and regret over the role you may have played in hardening your spouse’s heart. If this is the case, please know and understand that if you have confessed the sin to God, He has forgiven you. If you have gone to your prodigal in the hopes of seeking forgiveness and your efforts have been callously rebuffed, do not lose heart. Forgiveness and healing can often take extended periods of time. The “quick fix” solution that exists in some of our minds must be overcome if we have committed to remain in this battle for the long haul. We need to acknowledge that it is God who determines how and when restoration will occur. Yes, we have a role to play, but we will never be in a position to control or manipulate the hearts and minds of our prodigals. Let the Lord do what only He can, and while you wait, continue to walk humbly and with perseverance as you travel down this road.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson

Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Suffering

Don’t Provoke Your Prodigal

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

James 4:1-2

If you have been standing for your marriage and have grown accustomed to dealing with a prodigal spouse walking blindly in sin, you’ve likely faced situations where you’ve been tempted to engage your spouse in a no holds barred debate, in the hopes that through your passionate arguments, they will come to a knowledge of the truth and at long last see the light. While this may seem like a prudent thing to do at times, it is important to remember that a hardened heart, in most cases, will not be receptive to the message you bring. In fact, having to hear your words can in many cases, produce the complete opposite effect, resulting in a greater determination to run from God and to do things on their own terms.

I struggled with this early on in my stand. I was convinced that I actually had the power to argue my way back to restoration. If I could just put the words in the right order or articulate the message in just the right way, surely the message would get through… How wrongheaded this thinking was. Despite my best efforts, all the words I uttered fell on deaf ears. And the words that did penetrate, only served to strengthen her resolve to leave me and our marriage. To be completely blunt, I’d say there is no more effective way to drive your spouse further away from you, than to engage them in a conversation advocating that they leave their life of sin. To be sure, reconciling this in one’s mind is very tough. Logic seems to dictate that exposure to the truth of the Gospel will lead one to repentance. While in the broader context this is true, what standers oftentimes fail to account for is the working of the Holy Spirit. Genuine and authentic heart transformation can only occur if the sinner has been touched on the inside. We cannot do this. This work can only be done by God.

Instead of looking for ways to convince your spouse to return to your covenant marriage, a better and more effective use of your time is to pray for them by asking the Lord to do the work of heart transformation. James talks about our passions and how they can cause us to essentially “war” with others. This certainly rings true for those clinging to our marriages. We long so desperately for healing and reconciliation that at times we act irrationally and convince ourselves that it’s possible to actually force the issue. Please don’t be fooled or led astray by this false way of thinking. Your job as a stander is to love and remain peaceable.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Proverbs 25:11

While the strongest of arguments made on behalf of restoration can easily be used in back and forth exchanges between you and your spouse, the most impactful dialogue you can have will be those that model grace, soft spokenness, and restraint. Make no mistake, this approach should never be considered the easy path. It is extremely challenging to hold your tongue and zip your lips when you want so desperately for your husband or wife to return home. I understand that, but believe me when I say the cause of Christ and His Kingdom are more effectively advanced when you determine to put on the servant’s role and walk humbly in word and deed as the light of Christ flows from you. Remember this as you press on and continue to endure.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson

Divorce, Faithfulness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Suffering

Why Are You Standing?

In this episode of the Purposed Marriage Podcast, we ask a fundamental question to standers that speaks to the heart and motivation of individuals seeking marriage restoration.

Anger, Christian Walk, Couseling, Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Judging, Marriage

Humble Yourself

When I made the decision to file for divorce, I was full of self-righteous anger. I deserved so much more out of my marriage and from my husband. Perceiving Tommy’s flaws worse than my own, I felt superior. In reality, I had such backwards thinking. I lacked mercy towards him and was constantly finding Tommy at fault. I didn’t have time to scrutinize myself because I was too busy keeping a record of his wrongs. And, every chance I got, I took the opportunity to point out his offenses towards me. Rehashing past failures never offered solutions to our martial problems, rather, it led to further bitterness, resentment and anger in his heart and in mine.

The years of turmoil took a toll on our marriage. It strained our relationship to the point where I felt completely defeated. Instead of turning to God with my hurt and pain, I allowed the devil a foothold in my marriage. The enemy slowly drove a wedge deeper and deeper between me and my beloved. Over time, my attitude towards Tommy changed as well as my patterns of thinking. The dangers of not taking every thought captive soon spiraled out of control. Thoughts I would have easily dismissed in the past were now stirring around in my mind daily. I had completely given myself over to the lies of the enemy and was no longer guarding my heart. Inevitably, separation and divorce quickly followed.

Self-righteousness is terribly destructive, and sneaks into the heart and mind making it nearly impossible to show genuine love towards others. Is there any characteristic more deceptive? We hate to see self-righteousness in others, yet we will defend it in our own lives. The bible makes it clear that God despises pride, which is at the root of self- righteousness. We see this in the parable Jesus tells of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18. The Pharisee elevated himself above everyone else looking down on others, whereas the tax collector recognized he was a sinner and asked for God’s mercy.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 18:14

At the point in my brokenness, where I became more repulsed by my sin than that of Tommy’s, the tide began to turn. The Holy Spirit revealed the depravity of my own heart and redirected my anger inward. I had to face reality, my sin was equal to his in the eyes of the Lord. Ultimately, I realized the best way to change my husband was to humble myself.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalms 51:17

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Christian Walk, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Waiting on God

Come to Your Senses

Before we started our ministry nearly two years ago, Tommy and I spent time intentionally praying and discussing how we would share our story and the life lessons we learned through our restoration process. One aspect we both felt strongly about was a desire to be genuine, to speak from a place of vulnerability and authenticity. In doing so, we never imagined God would use us to touch the lives of so many broken, desperately hurting couples that mirror our past. We are honored the Lord has provided opportunities for us to share our valley experiences in order to encourage other couples amidst their marriage struggles!

Sharing my personal testimony, as once a prodigal, has especially been humbling. When I look back and realize how patient God was with me, I’m often reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 15:9-10.

For I am the least of the apostles unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me was not in vain.

Praise God, He did not leave me where I was. Our loving Father pursued me, chastened me and showed immeasurable amounts of grace along the way. He also used Tommy to demonstrate love for me as he continually stood for our marriage even when there seemed to be little to no hope. The more I share the heart transformation that took place in my life, the deeper the gratitude I feel towards God for providing my husband the strength to continue his stand.

Tommy’s primary motivation behind standing for our marriage was based on his desire to see God grant us both repentance and bring us back into alignment with God’s will. Part of that painful journey meant he had to patiently endure evil, evil from the one he vowed to love forever, in good times and in bad. I did not come to the knowledge of truth by Tommy pointing out my indiscretions and focusing on my sinful behavior. I came to the understanding of truth by the prayers Tommy and others cried out on my behalf. God heard their pleas and He also looked inwardly to the motivation of my husband’s heart.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26

The closer Tommy walked with the Lord, the more he relinquished control over our situation placing his faith in God to perform a miracle in our marriage. I couldn’t help but notice his full submission to the Lord. Tommy’s gentleness with me turned away my wrath allowing me to be vulnerable to the idea of restoration. I escaped the snare of the devil and I came to the knowledge of the UGLY truth. I had been used by the enemy to do his will! When that devastating reality set in, there was no more finger pointing, no more blame shifting. I came to my senses with a deep sadness which brought me to my knees before the Lord. There were tears of anguish and hurt as the veil was lifted and I understood I had been a participant in doing the devil’s bidding.

Dear friend, it takes the work of the Holy Spirit to prick your prodigal’s heart. The pain you are experiencing may be unrelenting and the natural response is to revile in return. But, keep in mind, your spouse has been captured by the enemy to do his will. Your prodigal will have to come to this realization on their own, in God’s perfect timing. Pray fervently and look to Christ as your example while you wait.

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Suffering

Turn the Other Cheek

In this episode of the Purposed Marriage Podcast, we explore the importance of turning the other cheek and discuss how this non-combative approach to dealing with tense situations can produce positive results.

Forgiveness, Judging, Marriage

Examine Your Own Heart

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:5

When a spouse has made the decision to turn against you and the Lord by abandoning the vows made before God, it’s a natural instinct to point the finger of blame. But how many of us pause and take a look at our own lives, which in many cases, played a role in cultivating an environment conducive to marital disaster? The realization of my own contribution to our marital demise came far too late for me, because for years I was consumed with judging my spouse’s actions and not my own. Sadly, this delay in spiritual self-awareness exacted a heavy toll on our family, marriage and my relationship with Christ.

At the beginning of my stand, I remember being focused on what my wife was doing and how she was acting. Early on, my conversations with others typically involved describing her behavior and painting myself as a victim. It was so very clear to me that what she was doing was wrong, but it wasn’t until I began really diving into Scripture that I realized my focus and attention was off base. The eyes of scrutiny had been aimed in the wrong direction. I was so focused on my spouse, that I had grown blind to my own iniquities.

Through the course of Biblical counseling, and intentional quiet times with the Lord, I began to understand how misguided this perspective was. Correcting my flawed point of view meant turning the eyes of scrutiny completely on myself and allowing the Lord to expose the parts of my own life that had not fallen under complete submission to the Holy Spirit. When I was able to stop focusing on the actions of my spouse and instead became more aware of my own sin and shortcomings, my heart and mind gradually became transformed. This metamorphosis was not something accomplished on my own. To be clear, without a steady diet of Gospel truth and transparent conversations with the God, my spirit would have no doubt remained the same. Of this I am certain.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

The path to restoration and healing is never paved with bitterness and resentment. If you recognize your own heart is filled with animosity towards your spouse, with the help of the Holy Spirit, purpose right now to change. Relationships are reconciled and grievances forgiven when both parties put off anger and instead put on love and compassion. You may not be able to control or suppress the malice directed towards you at this point, but over time, the transforming power of Christ exhibited in your own life will produce seeds that will one day bear fruit. As God’s Word tells us, do not grow tired or weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap if we faint not. May we all learn to focus our efforts on becoming more like Christ through the examination of our own hearts and minds. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you today and when conviction sets in, purpose to set your thoughts, words, and deeds under the full submission of God and His holy Word.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson


Anger, Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Suffering

Are You the Judge and Jury?

Let’s be honest. Initiating divorce proceedings in order to dissolve a marriage only comes after an individual has predetermined the guilt of the other party. Whether the offense is rooted in infidelity, emotional abuse, or financial impropriety, the situation nearly always results with one spouse concluding that enough is enough, and it is time for justice to be served.

This righteous indignation possessed by so many pursuing divorce is something witnessed on a routine basis in our culture. Nearly everyday we see examples of “outrage mobs” screaming from the rooftops over issues that according to them, are more important than anything the world has ever faced. There is no negotiating, no compromise and no reasoning with these people. The only thing that brings satisfaction is for “justice” to be brought immediately. These individuals aren’t content to see a simple slap on the wrist. There needs to be pain, suffering and reproach brought upon the targets of their wrath. They want to see lives crushed and destroyed. They want vengeance and they want it now.

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Reading this passage accurately describes what we are seeing all around us. When it comes to divorce, at least in western society, the rates have never been higher. Why is this? How do people arrive at the point where hearts have become so hardened that dissolving the bonds of holy matrimony becomes the ultimate prize? Quite frankly, it’s not hard to understand. Once you acknowledge how wicked our hearts are apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit, there is little in terms of surprise relating to how deep our sins can take us.

Years ago while standing for my marriage and fighting against divorce, I remember seeing in my covenant spouse an anger I had never seen before. She had become single minded of purpose to undo what had been done. Not to excuse her wrath or sense or vengeance at the time, but I now recognize that so much of what I felt and experienced stemmed from her deep sense of hurt and sadness. She had been deeply wounded and for years kept the pain bottled up. Over time, the suffering and grief turned into something dark and sinister. She demanded justice. There was a price to be paid for the anguish I put her through. It became her mission to make sure I was punished and that I tasted the same bitter fruit she had eaten for years.

For me, there was absolutely nothing I could do to assuage her anger. I was guilty on all counts. No acts of remorse or apologies could quench her thirst for justice. The ironic thing at the time was that while pursuing the divorce, she was claiming to have a close relationship with God. She even went so far as to say she had forgiven me. Of course, none of this was true. She was deceived and being held captive by the enemy and was simply repeating Satan’s lies. The devil played on her vulnerability and tricked her into believing that exacting vengeance on me would bring her happiness and restitution. Thankfully, the Lord rescued her heart and set her free from the strongholds of bitterness and division. I thank God for the work only He could do.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Romans 12:9

While the pursuit of justice is something worthwhile and honorable, Christians must understand that when it comes to this matter, our job is not to take measures into our own hands. If you have been hurt by your loved one and have endured heartache and suffering due to your spouse’s sin, do not fall into the trap of unforgiveness. Pursuing an ungodly divorce places you in the role of judge, jury and executioner. None of these roles define what we as Bible believing Christians are called to be. Instead of giving into the flesh and pursuing your own sense of justice, I challenge you to put on love, patience, endurance and longsuffering. The Lord Jesus provided the template for how we should live. May we remember His example the next time we embark upon a “so called” mission of justice.

Divorce, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, Waiting on God

The Divorce Delusion

In this episode of the Purposed Marriage Podcast, Amy and I address common questions individuals struggle with when contemplating divorce. Our discussion is focussed on finding Biblical answers that are in line with Christ’s teaching and design for marriage.

Anger, Divorce, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Waiting on God

Testimony of a Restored Marriage

Amy and I were thrilled to have been given the opportunity to be heard on the Rejoice Ministries Podcast recently. This up close and personal conversation with Charlyne Steinkamp and her daughter Lori details the struggles and challenges that led to our divorce and eventual reconciliation. We pray it blesses and encourages.

Anger, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

The Poison of Unforgiveness

I heard it once said that Christians are furthest away from the mind and heart of Christ when they are found to possess an unforgiving spirit. Given the message of the Gospel and the themes of reconciliation and forgiveness woven throughout Scripture, it’s easy to see how this mindset runs contrary to what should be at the heart of our identities as born again believers.

As I reflect on my own life experiences and the times I’ve withheld forgiveness because of pride, stubbornness and a host of other illegitimate reasons, there exists a deep sense of regret and sadness. Because of God’s grace and longsuffering, I know I have been forgiven, but that doesn’t erase the memory of my missteps and the damage done to my testimony. So much of my unforgiveness stemmed from the sense of power it gave me over those whom I perceived to have offended me. As long as I refused forgiveness over the supposed “offense”, then I had a reason to feel superior. My unforgiveness took many forms. Ignoring the individual completely, not responding to initiated communication efforts on their end, or speaking badly about the person behind his/her back were some of the most frequently used tactics in my arsenal of grievance weapons.

In the months that led to my marriage coming to a grinding halt, the most important person in my life had become myself. I was a master at defending my own actions, justifying my sin and finding ways to use petty infractions that existed only in my head as a way to belittle, disparage and marginalize my precious wife. I had become so easily offended by Amy that she found herself walking on eggshells most days in an effort to avoid incurring my wrath. “How dare my wife not live up to my expectations!”, I would think. I would punish her through deliberately spoken hurtful comments or by giving her the silent treatment so as to make her feel as though she didn’t exist. Sadly, my unloving words and deeds did far more damage than I could have anticipated. In time, Satan would use these actions as a means to construct the foundation of what would become the basis of our divorce… bitterness and unforgiveness. It wasn’t until I started walking through the pain of losing my wife that I began to understand how serious an offense unforgiveness was.

For years I had allowed the spirit of unforgiveness to reign in my heart. When it had finally run its course, I found myself on the receiving end of a decade’s worth of pent up wrath and hostility. On one hand, I couldn’t blame Amy for the path she decided to take. After all, I had created an environment that was ripe for this type of disaster. But the closer I grew to the Lord and the more I matured in my faith, the more I realized how contrary unforgiveness was to a heart that claimed to belong to Christ. While she denied this truth at the time, my covenant wife would eventually come to discern this as well.

At its very nature, unforgiveness is rebellion against God. It is a deliberate refusal to obey a direct order. When we choose to withhold forgiveness, it is the result of a complete disconnect with heart of the Gospel. How can we ever think our relationship with Jesus is where it needs to be if we have erected walls of division with one another, or have fortified our internal defenses so as to prevent our spouse from reconciling? It is so vitally important to understand that when we choose not to forgive, we are taking a dangerous risk. Matthew 6:15 states that if we do not forgive others of their sins, the Father will not forgive us of our sins. We don’t need a Bible commentary to understand what is plainly written here. The warning to believers is quite sobering. May this unholy spirit never find a place in our hearts.

Perhaps you have been so deeply hurt by your husband or wife that you cannot see a path forward to forgive. If this is your present condition, do not be dismayed. There was a point in my life shortly after our divorce that I questioned the capacity I had to forgive Amy. Thankfully, I came to realize that I didn’t need to rely on my own strength. The Lord had promised to never leave or forsake me and I knew I had access to His power. He had provided everything I needed to overcome this challenge of unforgiveness. It was all right there contained in His Holy Word.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Forgiveness is absolutely possible, but only if you allow God to change your heart. You must first submit to His authority and acknowledge that your unwillingness to forgive is sin. Once again in His will and under His submission, allow the Lord to transform your heart and mind by feasting on His Word as well as going to Him daily in prayer. The more intimate your relationship with the Lord is, the easier you will find it to forgive. The spiritually mature believer who walks in close fellowship with Christ will acknowledge that as forgiven sinners, we have absolutely no right to withhold forgiveness from anyone, regardless of the offense. Remember this truth as you strive to live in accordance with the teachings and admonitions of Scripture.

Divorce, Faith, Faithfulness, Marriage, Suffering, Waiting on God

How Long Should We Wait?

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

How long should a stander wait on a prodigal to come home? Does there come a point when it is acceptable to simply give up and call it quits? Does God understand if we “move on” with our lives and put the painful past behind us? Many in distressed or broken marriages will oftentimes ask these questions. For a majority, there will come a point when the desire to escape the pain, emptiness and despair becomes too overwhelming to bear. At this stage, we begin to question our stand and the sovereignty and faithfulness of God to intervene and bring restoration. While it is understandable to sympathize with someone in this situation, we need to be discerning in our approach to identifying the root causes of the sadness and grief. Above all else, our examination should focus on God’s Word. This correct approach will reveal how easily our hearts can be deceived and our minds swayed from holding fast to the truth.

When it comes to establishing a set time for waiting on a prodigal to return home, we need to reframe the question. We must understand that the goal or “endgame” for any stander should be to see their spouse come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their journey home to you and your family is secondary. But, because of the emotional ties we have with our one flesh partner, it becomes challenging on many levels to keep this right perspective. Regardless of the difficulty, we must strive to stay focussed on the spiritual and eternal nature of the battle.

Your absent husband or wife is likely facing an eternal separation from God if they remain in their sin and bondage to the flesh. This is the sobering reality. Focus your prayers and petitions before the Lord on the very heart of the matter, the soul and mind of your deceived spouse. Our question to God shouldn’t be, “How long must I wait for my prodigal to come home?” but rather, “How can God use me to help point my prodigal towards a saving knowledge of God’s truth?” Our marriages will only return to a condition that is honoring and pleasing to the Lord when both husbands and wives have fully submitted themselves to God’s will. In most cases, prodigals will not arrive at this state until they are broken by God. As someone who lived as an “in-home” prodigal of sorts for over ten year, I can assure you that when the hand of correction does come, it comes swiftly and mightily. For me, the result was a complete heart transformation as Christ began the work that only He could.

As far as “moving on” is concerned, the first question to ask is, “What does that really mean?” Is it to say that an individual wants out of the situation he or she is in and believes there to be a better path apart from the Lord’s revealed will? Sadly, in most cases it does. Be cautioned though. This “take charge” approach to rectifying our situations is not rooted in God’s truth. In fact, it is quite to the contrary. What “moving on” or “moving forward” essentially boils down to is an unwillingness to wait on God.

In other words, it is the belief that God isn’t fulfilling His end of the deal fast enough. Can you understand how foolish it is to think this way? All throughout Scripture we find examples of man relying on his own understanding and failing to acknowledge and follow God’s clear instructions. This deeply flawed perspective and approach to dealing with trials and tribulations will result in nothing but more pain and heartache. Granted, there may be some temporary relief from the grief and suffering in the short term. Speaking long term however, you will find the “quick fixes” you attempt to apply now, will likely result in problems down the road that eclipse the magnitude of the stress and sorrow you are enduring in the present. This is almost a certainty, and you have no idea of how those issues will manifest themselves later on. You don’t want to know either.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12

Dear friends, as God’s Word says, there is a way of thinking that may seem right, but if it is apart from the Lord’s revealed truth, it will not lead to peace and fulfillment. In most cases it will only lead to further heartache and suffering. When you are being tempted by the enemy to give up your stand so as to make the pain go away, remember Christ’s example for us. Even as He was being crucified, he remained faithful to His call. He willingly suffered and endured the pain on our behalf. In the end, death was conquered and defeated.

I challenge you this day to let the mind that was in Christ Jesus also be in you. Endure what you have been called to endure and rejoice that our God is faithful in fulfilling his promises. And as to the question, how long should we wait for God to move? We should wait for as long and as fervently as his faithfulness to us endures.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson