Do you feel like a stranger in your hometown? Or maybe even a stranger in your own home? I know I felt that way when I returned to the states after living overseas for several years. The community that was once very familiar was not and the people I thought I knew had changed. Where I imagined I would feel safe and at peace, I felt overwhelmed and lost. It was difficult to communicate those feelings with people that hadn’t lived or experienced that “strangeness” before. I remember trying to describe my situation to family and friends, but often they didn’t understand. I recall reading Luke 4:16-30 and taking great comfort in knowing Jesus understood what it felt like to be a stranger in His hometown.
The same passage was preached by our pastor this past Sunday, but this time, the story resonated with me in a completely different way. If you are not familiar with this passage, it is the story of Jesus’ return to his hometown of Nazareth. In verse 18, he identifies himself as the prophesied Messiah, but unfortunately his message was not well received and he was rejected by the locals. The villagers that had grown up with Jesus did not accept that he was anything other than the son of Joseph and an ordinary carpenter. Even his own family did not believe him initially. Those that had admired him, rejected the truth of his claims. Scripture goes on to say that the locals were filled with wrath and drove Jesus out of his hometown. I can imagine he felt like an outsider!
When I listened to the message Sunday, it brought back memories of when Tommy and I were separated. I know during that time he felt like a stranger in his hometown. Friends and a few family members thought he was crazy for holding onto hope of a restored marriage. By all accounts, it appeared as if the distance between us was far too great to be mended. His stand for our marriage seemed like a lost cause and sadly, I was no different than the villagers of Nazareth. When confronted with the truth, I too rejected the message as well as the messenger. My heart was embittered and hardened after years of marital setbacks and disappointments. I didn’t want to hear the truth and chances are if you are standing for your marriage, your prodigal spouse does not want to hear it either. But, oh how my heart swells with gladness knowing Tommy did not give up! Although he endured pain and suffering as he withstood the trials, he continued speaking the truth in love. Over time, my hard exterior softened as God’s Word penetrated my heart.
“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.Isaiah 55:11
Oh friends, I’m extremely grateful for messages like these because I never want to forget the grace that God poured out on me. Likewise, I stand in amazement at the strength of the Father’s hand as He upheld Tommy during his time in the valley. Perhaps you are facing loneliness and harsh rejection during this difficult season of life. Remind yourself and those around you of the truth from God’s Word.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.James 1:12
Stand on God’s promises in times of difficulty, knowing and believing that God has the power to do great things, far greater things than you can even imagine! He is working behind the scenes weaving together a beautiful tapestry to be revealed in His time. Speaking as a previous doubter who didn’t believe Christ was capable of being the Savior of my marriage, He proved me wrong! He showed me He is THE Savior to all and in all circumstances.
With love in Christ,
5 thoughts on “Stranger in your Hometown”
Every day the enemy reminds me of your wicked words toward me and how you’ve abandoned me, that I am not even welcome near you. Every day he reminds me that you took the presents I bought and made for you at Christmas and threw them in a trash bag at my door. Every day he reminds me that you hate me and that our marriage is over. Every day he prods me that I have a right to be angry at you and to hate you for actions, and every day I consider giving up.
Yet every day my Beloved Jesus sits with His arm around me and He reminds me of how much He loves me. Jesus reminds me of all your beautiful qualities and how He loves you too, that you are a soul worth saving and one worth praying for. Jesus reminds me that miracles begin with compassion, and He allows me to see you and love you through His eyes and heart. Yes, my dear, you are worth praying for, and worth fighting for. The love I have for you is from the overflow of His heart.
I have tried but cannot be angry with you. Instead, when I am tempted to become angry, I find that my heart literally melts with compassion for you, and it breaks knowing that you are being attacked and deceived like this. How is it that I have been hated and abandoned, yet my heart aches more for you than for myself? This simply can’t be me living through this heartache. This must be Jesus living in me.
Jesus assures me that He is positioning me for His purposes, that my scars will become my authority when I continue walking in humility, faith, and obedience to Him. He will work the miraculous, and I fully trust Him. All glory and praise to Christ our King, Amen!
Amen…Amen…Amen…Amen…Amen!!! Yes I feel your pain my brother. I know what its like to have over 20 years of memories at christmas with your one flesh and since they are deceived you wind of spending the day without them with only your family since you have no kids praying for them and crying out to God to rescue them. Yes my brother God’s got this…Remember there will be a time when your spouse will look back on that day you speak of and wonder probably with more tears than you cried of how they could have been so deceived and how much hurt they caused you. That only God will do…keep Standing, Praying, and Believing in God’s Power. One day you will have a testimony that Only God could do. Your Standing Brother in Christ.
Ditto. I hear and join you in suffering the same way. It sounds like we are on similar paths. I will add you to my prayers.
Michael in Alabama
Such beautiful messages of encouragement and a testimony to how loving our Father is in times of trials! We cry out to the Father on your behalf and thank Him for the wonderful lessons He is teaching you both about Himself. Before we began our ministry, this is the community I desired to see cultivated, iron sharpening iron! Thank you for sharing your hearts and always offering loving encouragement to all those who are reading. I also hope you are keeping these words written in a journal. Tommy has shared entries with me over the years, and I am forever grateful he documented them!
I do keep a journal. When Tina has restored her relationship with God and our marriage is restored and when God shows that us both that she is ready one of the websites I plan to show her is this one. It will be a time when I allow her to just read…your’s and Tommy’s testimony and all the encouragements that you guys have given all of us men…and women who are standing for God to heal and restore. Believe me when I started this stand over ten years ago I didn’t know yours and Tommy’s testimony but God lead me to two men that I poured into in sharing my stand and they too started to stand for their marriages as they were in the midst of a divorce that they didn’t want or initiate. Unfortunately, one chose to remarry another person but I think if they could have a “do over” they would have made a choice to restore their marriage as their wife came back nine months after the divorce wanting to restore things but my dear brother chose not to go down that path. During that time they were dating their “second” wife and their child had so many issues with the divorce and even tried to commit suicide b/c they wanted mommy and daddy back together. Amy I’ve heard you talk about on the podcasts how hard it was for your kids…I hope in your talking with other women about restoration that you will share this “true” story. Prayers Up For Tina and all Standers and Prodigals