In this episode of the Purposed Marriage podcast, we discuss biblically based strategies to help those struggling with the painful reality of divorce.
Don’t Be Complacent
They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.Psalm 53:5
If you are standing for your marriage or have experienced the Lord miraculously restore the relationship between you and your spouse, there may come a point when you become comfortable or lax in your walk with Jesus. If you are like me, the desire to possess an intimate and close fellowship with the Savior can be a struggle. Far too often, the very things that should rightfully occupy the inner parts of our hearts take a back seat to what is fleshly, temporal and fleeting.
Recently, I’ve become aware of areas in my own life where complacency has taken hold. What has become clear and glaringly apparent is the fact that this attitude usually is a result of our unwillingness to be proactive and intentional in our pursuit of righteousness on a routine basis. Unfortunately, deviation from deliberate efforts to fully submit to God have the potential to put us in situations where our hearts can become vulnerable to the attacks from the enemy. It’s a dangerous place to be and an environment we as believers should always seek to avoid.
So vitally important to understand is that none of us are above reproach and what exists in our hearts will never come close to being good. In fact, what is there is described as deceptive and wicked by the Word of God. This should serve as a sobering reminder should any think he or she is beyond scrutiny and incapable of turning astray. I’m reminded of the story of Peter and the circumstances that led to his denying Christ three times. Surely if any person had a right relationship with the Lord it would be Peter, right? One can easily assume this, but if we view this apostle from a lens focused squarely on his human imperfections and sin nature, it becomes easier to understand how this event likely occurred.
Before Peter’s outward denying of the Savior, there were already failures at the heart level. In other words, the spiritual battle Peter was in had already been lost long before the infamous cursing came from his lips. As Scripture tells us, it is out of the abundance of the heart, that our mouths speak. This is also true of what we do with our hands, think in our head, or look upon with our eyes. It all begins in the heart. It is due to this corruption that the sinful and ungodly actions of the flesh are born out and made manifest.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8
At this point, you may be thinking to yourself that if someone like Peter who was so close to Christ fell so easily, what hope do we have? The answer is simple. The hope you have is not in yourself or in your ability to fight the enemy on your own. Your hope is in Jesus. He is the one able to strengthen and equip you. His Word is what prepares you for battle and provides you the armor to withstand the attacks of the evil one. We must rely on Him completely and not leave ourselves vulnerable by assuming anything concerning the virtue and integrity we foolishly think we possess.
There were times in my stand when I did feel extremely confident about my walk with the Lord and the work He had done in my life. But even in those moments, there was danger lurking at every corner seeking to lead me astray. It was only by the grace of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit that potentially harmful situations and opportunities were kept at bay.
The challenge we all face is clear. A relentless enemy is on the attack. He will use anyone and anything to lead us down the path of darkness. Be constantly aware of these dangerous snares and entrapments. Don’t let your vulnerabilities during these valley experiences allow the evil one to gain access to the doors of your heart. Purpose now to cling to the cross. May we all remain broken before Jesus and understand the importance of our full and complete submission to Him. It is only through Christ that victory will be found.
A little over ten years ago, when Tommy and I found out I was expecting our first child, I was over the moon with excitement. I read daily about the growth of the baby, the developmental process and what to expect during pregnancy. Each doctor’s visit, I took delight in watching our little one move about, turning over and sucking his thumb as he grew in the womb. I carefully studied the intricate details of our ultrasound photos imagining what our son would look like when he arrived. The anticipation of his birth was an exciting time in my life and a welcomed distraction from our marital problems.
When Micah finally made his appearance after 42 weeks in the womb, I was overcome with emotions. As Tommy held him up and my eyes met his for the first time, I cried tears of happiness. No matter how many tears I wiped away, countless more streamed down my face as my heart leapt with joy. Our little blessing had made his way into the world, and I had become a mother. A few years later, I welcomed Elijah and then Jacob with the same joy-filled tears and overwhelmed heart. The births of our children made time stand still. It brought periods of calm and a sense of normalcy in what was otherwise a very strained and contentious relationship.
Our boys were happy babies and brought so much contentment. I enjoyed nursing them and cuddling each before laying them down for nap time. As they grew, I poured my love into them watching as they transitioned from sitters-crawlers-walkers. When God knit them together in my womb, I was fully captivated by their development. I had been so attuned to their needs when they were babies and toddlers, but over time my loving attention began to diminish the more I focused on my failing marriage.
The years of Tommy’s distance and neglect, wore away my confidence in him as a husband and father, as well as my faith in the Lord to bring about lasting and meaningful change. My heart began to hardened and I became unresponsive to the Holy Spirit. I successfully deceived myself into believing divorcing Tommy and moving forward without him, would make life easier for everyone. Although our children were aware of the tension and lack of affection between Tommy and I, nothing could have prepared their little hearts for the changes ahead. Their world took a drastic turn at the ages of 6, 3 and 15 months old. Our precious boys were no longer sleeping through the night, snores turned into sobs, and their delightful spirits were crushed.
Once we separated, I appeared to be happy, but that was all an illusion. Inside, my heart was aching as Christ’s light was dimming and darkness began to creep in. I was doing my best to keep up the facade, but I was living in a whirlwind and too blinded by sin to realize our three boys were being tossed about like a wave in the sea. My life was not reflecting the beautiful picture I had presented to the world, yet I continued to deceive myself and others.
I got so caught up in trying to sell the lie, I didn’t realize the emotional damage that was being done. I missed all of the warning signs despite phone calls and messages from the boys’ teachers telling me they were struggling to keep their emotions in tact. My judgement had been so clouded, I unfairly blamed Tommy for their suffering. I had convinced myself I was moving forward to a happier and healthier life for their well-being, but that was not proving to be true and was having the opposite effect in which I had intended.
As I drifted further away from the Lord, Tommy drew closer and began intense Biblical counseling. One by one, the strongholds the enemy had in his life started to crumble and as a result, he became a changed man. Our boys took notice and began opening up to their daddy, pouring out their hearts to him and sharing a deeper bond than I had ever witnessed before. Over time, I noticed a change in my relationship with our children. I wasn’t the loving, attentive, patient mother I used to be. I had become quite the opposite and was every bit of distant and neglectful as I had previously accused Tommy of being. I had divorced him for past behavior that was now present and ruling in my own life.
Despite my actions, Tommy continually showed me kindness and sacrificial love. His acts of obedience began to have an effect on me and my eyes were opened to the reality of our situation. The more the Holy Spirit revealed to me, the more broken I became. No matter how miserably I had failed, God’s remarkable gift of grace abounded.
But where sin increased, Grace abounded all the more. Romans 5:20
When our family reunited, not only did I ask forgiveness from my husband, I also admitted my faults to our children and apologized to them just as sincerely.
Throughout the past couple of years, God has been so compassionate and merciful to me. He has taught me the beauty of His son’s sacrifice and the importance of granting forgiveness to others as graciously as it has been given to me. There is no greater joy than giving God the glory for the miraculous healing and redemption that’s taken place in our family. Though it was brought about with heartbreak and suffering, I rejoice knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. My hope isn’t invested in something that is temporal, but in the only One that can bring about everlasting change, Jesus Christ my Savior.
Perhaps you are in the midst of marital struggles of your own or you are currently going through a divorce. Seek the Lord and ask Him to give you the ability to ask for forgiveness or grant forgiveness whatever the circumstances may be. Take comfort in knowing your hope lies in Jesus Christ! No situation or relationship is beyond the power of God to heal and restore.