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

Inspiration, Marriage, Suffering

Inspirational Graphics

Good morning friends! Tommy and I will be posting weekly inspirational graphics to our social media accounts that we hope will encourage you to reflect on God’s promises during your marriage stand. To receive those, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

In Him,
Amy Larson