Our lives are often viewed with the wrong perspective. We dwell on the things we don’t have instead of being grateful for the things given to us. Looking back in Genesis, Adam and Eve did the same thing. They fixated on the tree’s fruit they could not eat paying no attention to the bountiful forest right in front of them. The serpent easily persuaded them because they began to doubt God’s promises for their lives and lost perspective.
How often does this happen in our marriages? Something or someone captures our attention and we get easily distracted. We look to our friends and family to see what they have and where we may be lacking. Maybe we even get caught up in the world of social media and start playing the comparison game in our hearts and minds. Before we know it, we are coveting our neighbors and wishing for a life other than our own.
This may destroy more marriages quicker than anything else. When doubting God’s goodness, it is likely we have raised our problems as our highest reality rather than God’s Word. In such cases, a change of perspective is needed so we may view our problems through the lens of scripture. We need to be mindful that Satan still uses the same tactics he used with Adam and Eve, he just repackages the lie and delivers it by a different messenger.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalms 34:8
Dear friend, Don’t believe the lie that God’s goodness applies to everyone but you! Today I want to encourage you to believe in God’s goodness and trust He has His loving arms wrapped around you. In your time of trouble, don’t hide like Adam and Eve, but run to our Heavenly Father with open arms. If you are in a season of waiting, be patient and take refuge in Him knowing and expecting God to deliver on all of the promises He has for you. Chances are without the troubles, you may not come to fully appreciate the promises He has given.
During the painful and lonely days of standing for my marriage, there were times when I felt I couldn’t go on another day. The heartache of knowing my wife had left the marriage and the strained relationship that now existed between my children and I were oftentimes too burdensome to bare. It was during these times I poured my energies into writing personal journal entries. As I reflect back on the writings, so much of it could be described as me simply voicing my thoughts and feelings to God. I would ask questions of the Lord and wondered if He was even hearing me. From the standpoint of being able to release the pain and vocalize the suffering I was experiencing inwardly, these writing exercises proved to be quite therapeutic and emotionally beneficial. The most comforting moments came when the Holy Spirit would remind me of His promises as He directed my heart back towards the Word and His eternal message of hope.
The following is from a journal entry of mine dated July 13, 2016. I submit it here to serve as an example of the hurt and emptiness I was experiencing that the Lord, in His faithfulness, eventually delivered me through.
It has been a week now since I’ve seen the boys and Amy. And while I did go to the house yesterday to drop off a meal, I didn’t see anyone. Since they returned, Amy hasn’t initiated any contact. I feel abandoned, isolated and completely forsaken. Lord, I call upon you now. Be my all in all. May I depend solely on You. Bring me to a deeper understanding of your love. Help me to know and love You more. All I have is in You. Hear my cries oh Lord. Do not cast me aside and forsake me. Father, I seek your will. To lead, love and serve like a Christian husband and father should. I overhear conversations from the lost world as they speak of divorce, visitation rights, and child support. It’s wicked. You do not will these things in our lives. How long will Amy hold onto anger and unforgiveness against me? Lord, touch her heart. Right now it is like stone. Only You can change this. Help me Lord. I hurt all day and night.
Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
There were many times I did not feel cared for, valued or loved. When I found myself in those circumstances, it was usually the result of a negative interaction between my spouse and myself. Too often, instead of going to the Lord and spending time in His Word, I would dwell on the things that were said or done and retreat to a place that existed in my mind where the reality of my suffering took center stage. Thankfully, even in those moments, the Holy Spirit was there to constantly remind me of the 24/7 access to His promises and assurances ever present in His Holy Word. When I made the conscious decision to stop thinking about my circumstances and focus instead on the blessings I’d already been given, as well as the hope I had in Christ, the sooner my outlook, perspective and emotional mood changed.
As I began to regularly journal, the Lord would oftentimes guide me past the pain as the words would flow from my pen. The more I wrote and released the inner suffering, the more I sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit as I felt the weight of my burden being lightened as He took the yolk upon Himself. What a Savior we serve! Not only is He the Wonderful Counselor, but He is a real friend and encouragement when we need Him the most. Standers, as you suffer for the sake of Christ, remember that He is always right there beside you. He desires to hear and listen to you. Whether you reach out to Him through handwritten entries in your journal or speak to Him in times of prayer, I encourage you to fully give your burden over to Jesus. He is the only one able to sufficiently minister to your heart and mind during these times of trial and tribulation. In Him there is hope and rest!
In today’s podcast, we walk you through the stander and the prodigal’s point of view when divorce becomes a reality and speak about what it’s like to get served divorce papers. Check out Ep. 2 from Purposed Marriage!
As a biblical counselor, I consider it a great honor to serve and walk alongside individuals that are struggling to find their footing. It wasn’t long ago that I myself was striving. I had lost sight of the cross and was lured in by the enemy who planted doubt and confusion in my mind specifically related to events from my past. (Remind you of Genesis 3 by chance?) I had allowed Satan a foothold into my life and he cleverly twisted my thoughts and skewed my view on reality.
I eventually gave in to the enemy’s temptation and started running in the opposite direction from the Lord and from my husband. I had communicated to Tommy that I had forgiven him, however, I neglected to connect the dots between forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation. Instead of accepting his sincere apology and addressing our marital issues, I paved the road to divorce with bitterness in my heart and wrath on my lips. My words were damaging and were intended to bring about vengeance. Reminding Tommy of his past failures was motivated by my desire to elicit sympathy for myself and inflict pain on him. I felt completely justified in my actions because my heart had grown hardened towards him and I felt he deserved harsh punishment for the way he had treated me over the past 10 years.
As I reflect back, I’m so thankful Tommy was receiving sound biblical advice. Several godly men directed him to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and disregard mine. He was not bound by my words because the soft whispers of the Spirit drowned out all the accusations I hurled at him. With time, I realized my words were no longer effecting Tommy or his stand for our marriage. I could have attempted to use other weapons in my arsenal, but thankfully God’s plan and pursuit of my heart came to fruition and the veil was lifted from my eyes. With clear vision, there was nothing left to do but turn to the Lord and address my past biblically.
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18
Did you hear that dear friends? Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM! Aren’t those sweet words that we need to hear and be reminded of time and time again? We are not hopeless victims that can never recover from our past. We have the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to set us free and break the chains. Behind our bondage and every bad habit or behavior is a lie. When we speak falsehoods to ourselves and play untrue thoughts frequently, we convince ourselves that they are true. Commit your mind to the Lord so the lies can be eradicated and the Spirit can do a powerful work in your life. Christ made a way for us to find freedom from our past, in Him and through Him by His death on the cross.
For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back? Isaiah 14:27
While the Lord has appointed rulers, judges and political administrations to govern over the affairs of men, there is a limit to their authority. Decrees, verdicts and judgments handed out by those in power carry with them an aura of finality and settledness. Indeed, when the words of a judge are spoken, the trajectory a person’s life path is forever altered. That is, unless a higher authority intervenes.
The more we read Scripture and better equipped we become to understand the power and sovereignty of the Father, the greater perspective we have on events that happen here on this earth and in our own lives. As a stander for my marriage, even when the divorce decree was handed down that “dissolved” my marriage, my conviction to live faithfully to the covenant bride the Lord joined me together with, remained steadfast and unwavering. It wasn’t a matter of not recognizing the authority of the judge who issued the decree. Rather, it was the knowledge of a “higher” authority that kept me on the straight and narrow and obedient to the vows and covenant that was made over ten years earlier. I give thanks to God for equipping me, through His grace, to press on and stay the course. It was not easy.
Recently, I had a phone conversation with a stander living in another part of the state. Prior to this specific talk, I had sensed a weariness and sadness in his spirit as the court date for his divorce drew near. By this time, there was literally nothing my friend could have done to delay the proceedings or to persuade his prodigal wife to abandon her plans. Despite this, my friend continued to pray and believe in faith that the Lord was working.
As the days continued, the weekend before the trial had arrived. My friend decided to go through his mail and catchup on matters that needed attention. Low and behold, in that stack of letters was a notification informing him the court date had to be moved due to an “emergency case” his wife’s attorney couldn’t avoid. As a result, he would not be divorced on the day the judge had declared. This dramatic change of events resulted in a marriage that remains intact and will so for the remainder of this year. Praise God! But what is so encouraging about this news was the fact that the judge had denied my friend’s request to delay the proceedings and was adamant the trial would occur on a specific date. In other words, “Your marriage will end on this date, and there is nothing you can do about it!” But God intervened! It didn’t matter this particular judge said the divorce would happen on a certain date. A more powerful judge decided it wouldn’t!
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ Daniel 4:35
While the above example is a great encouragement to standers and those praying for restoration, we must be careful to recognize that it is the power of God which thwarts the intentions of man and that we are held to account for our submission to authority while in this world. Consider the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. They were sentenced to a horrific death by King Nebuchadnezzar, yet despite this, these faithful servants of the Lord did not resist what was coming. If their circumstances were to change, it could only be done as a result of God’s supreme power and divine intervention. And indeed it was. God protected and saved the three Hebrew men resulting in glory being brought to Himself. God willed his faithful followers be subject to the demands of the wicked Babylonian king and in so doing, accomplished his ultimate purposes.
Our takeaway from this story is the challenge to remain faithful to God, while at the same time staying obedient to human authorities. We cannot prevent our prodigals from pursuing the path that ultimately leads to destruction. We can put up roadblocks and resist things we know to be sinful. Legally speaking, I did everything in my power to delay our divorce and postpone the inevitable. I understood though, that even if the divorce went through, God still was in control and Amy’s heart could be changed. As that dreadful day came and went, it became crystal clear that it was going to be the power of God alone and His authority that would overrule and restore a marriage an earthly judge had dissolved. And that’s exactly what happened in God’s perfect timing.
Dear friends, this time of year is very challenging for standers. It’s especially hard to remain positive and cheerful in the face of a troubled marriage headed down the wrong path. But be encouraged! If this season is a reminder of anything, it is that God is a big believer in restoration and reconciliation. In fact, the gift of His Son is exactly that; the ultimate sacrifice which reconciled a sinful people to a holy God.
May the Lord bless and encourage you this Christmas season!
A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:39
The phrases “till death do us part” and “as long as we both shall live” don’t seem to carry as much weight as they did in years past. These days, the aforementioned parts of traditional wedding vows have for many, become little more than words in the script that makeup the wedding ceremony. Unfortunately, the serious nature of the charge to both the husband and wife hasn’t resonated with a large percentage of those have entered the marriage covenant. It has been this casual approach to wedding vows that has led to divorce becoming a viable option for many (including professing Christians) when relationships go south.
During our separation and subsequent divorce, I remember being strongly convicted not to view the decree of a judge as license for me to abandon the vow made to my wife on our wedding day. There were many reasons for this perspective, but mostly it was due to the fact that the promise to uphold my vows wasn’t simply a promise to Amy. It was a promise to God.
One is reminded of this as we look back to the Old Testament and read of the Lord’s relationship with his chosen people, Israel. Here, we see modeled a testimony of unending love, patience, and long-suffering.
Deuteronomy 7:6-8 “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Israel was a nation chosen by God himself, but time after time, Israel turned away from the truth and lived an existence marked by rebellion, disobedience and unfaithfulness. Despite this, God, who is full of grace, continued to pursue his first love. He demonstrated unparalleled devotion, kindness and forgiveness to a people who willingly forsook his affections, and in turn, chased after their own lusts and passions.
What an amazing example that was demonstrated for us so long ago. For those who have in obedience, chosen to stand for our marriages, may God’s faithfulness to an unfaithful partner serve as a reminder to continue to pursue, serve and willingly sacrifice temporal happiness for the sake of the God’s kingdom. How easy it is to fall into the world’s way of thinking by abandoning our covenant spouse when the circumstances of life have become too burdensome to bear. But, take heart faithful friends, for we know that the pain and suffering of this life is nothing compared to the joy and fulfillment that await us when one day, we are united with our Father in heaven.
Having gone through the horrible pain of divorce, I understand the anguish and emotional distress that can steal your joy and erode your confidence in Christ to move mountains and restore a broken marriage. The hurt and sadness is very real, but don’t let your circumstances dictate the resolve of your commitment to your vows and promise to the Lord the day you entered into a holy union with Him and your spouse.
Regardless of your current situation, and despite the reality of some relationships continuing to visibly erode, have confidence that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is able to resurrect any relationship. Take comfort in this as you seek to remain faithful to those the enemy has taken captive. Christ has the ability to set them free!