It’s very difficult to become a statistic. It’s particularly difficult when you’ve been sold on the completely unbiblical fantasy that being in the Kingdom will somehow shield you from the troubles of the world. It’s even more difficult when you’ve read and applied the concepts from all the Lifeway relationship books, attended counseling and seminars, and prayed with your spouse every night. Still, Christians get divorced, statistically in the same numbers of non-Christians. The daily prayers for my family’s protection, the Shaunti Feldhahn books, and the personal accountability group did nothing to shield me from the announcement that fateful night, three years ago, when my wife said, “I don’t love you anymore”, “I’m leaving”, and “I want a divorce”. There was no way to pray her out of it. There was no way to avoid the constant custody battles over the last three years. There was no amount of claiming the power of the Holy Spirit that would stop the freight train of bitterness and hatred and life-sabotage that is my ex-wife. The fact is, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We were never promised a pass on the shit-train.
Probably the only thing more damaging to faith than the breakup of my family and all of the related trials that have been my daily bread since, was my failed attempt to stand for my marriage. I found Charlene Steinkamp’s podcasts less that 24 hours after that initial announcement. I fasted… from everything. I spent a year taking in nothing but sermons, the Bible and Rejoice Marriage Ministries materials. I didn’t listen to music, watch TV, or play video games. I lived a life of constant prayer and meditation. I put Brother Lawrence’s practices into place in my life and never stopped talking to and listening for God. Admittedly, I experienced some amazing miracles during that season, and I still do. You will never convince me that God isn’t real and that He does not speak to us or act in our lives. After two years of standing, though, I was really struggling with the character of God… You see, He kept making it abundantly clear that my marriage would not be restored.
You see, I think that standing is great. I think that it’s something that honors God and the covenant you made before Him when you said, “I do”. The problem is, You can’t put God in a box that says He will or should restore every marriage. Maybe He has another plan and purpose. The rhetoric that calls anyone else who comes into one’s life after their first spouse a “counterfeit” or a device of the deceiver, sent to ruin your stand, denies God the ability to bless your life through anyone else.
I never thought I would be one of those divorced people, it’s true. I also never thought that anyone existed that could be such a blessing in my life as the woman I’m with now. I could never consider her a counterfeit. I could not have invented her if asked to create my perfect partner. She is nothing short of the most incredible blessing I’ve ever received. A blessing that I never would have experienced without the pain and suffering of divorce. Now, when I look back at my 10 years of marriage, I can see that I was tolerated rather than cherished. I was used rather than loved. I was abused instead of respected.
So, God is bigger than any box that we can put Him in. He loves to work in and through the lives of broken people. He delights to surprise us with joy in the midst of heartache and uncertainty. Take heart! Your marriage my be restored, or you may receive an unexpected and unfathomable upgrade. God. is. good.
…all the time.