Just over a year ago what I had thought impossible became a reality. I discovered that my wife of nearly 20 years had been seeing another man and decided to end our marriage to start a new life with him. I was beyond devastated. The emotional pain was indescribable. To this day I cannot come close to the words needed to explain what this felt like inside. Only those who have gone through this can relate.
Immediately I was faced with choices I had never contemplated. My first choice was how to react… I have known several men who have been in similar situations and each reacted differently. Some turned to things such as alcohol, other women, or other destructive ways to cope. While others poured themselves into their work or simply found other distractions to avoid the reality. My immediate reaction was to hit my knees…. in prayer. I pleaded with God, I cried for days, I begged my wife to reconsider, I did not sleep for weeks, yet today, despite my prayers… I am divorced.
Many of my friends asked the proverbial question, “why did ‘God’ let this happen to you?” To be honest, I asked this question as well. Over the first 6 months following our divorce filing I asked this a lot. I was fortunate to have several wise and seasoned believers with whom I could confide and be completely honest and broken. My realization though this experience was simply this: God did not cause my divorce, God did not will this to happen…. the free will choices of my wife and myself allowed this to happen. The question became, what will He do with it to bring himself glory? I desperately want to know what my future holds… and in my human nature I want to know now! Learning to wait on God and trust His plans and rest in his provisions is challenging. Some days I succeed… and many I continue to fail.
As I pleaded with God for answers to “WHY” he began to make it clear that I simply needed to trust. Jeremiah 29:11 quickly became a passage that would be my foundation:
Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
But how often do we stop right there…… we see the promise God has for us and are willing to accept it, but what about the next two verses.
12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart
In my brokenness I was looking for the promise, but was I willing to follow through with my part? Was I really seeking Him with all my heart? Was I evening coming to Him in praise and prayer? The answer was clear… I had not been committed to my relationship with God for a long time. At least not to the level He deserves. Is the failure of my marriage what it would take to realize how great God is? Is it possible that God would use this experience to restore me to himself?
The questions came and came but I could not see the answers. I wanted answers…I was demanding answers … the answer I received over and over was this…….
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[d] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body,whether by life or by death.
Paul, rejected and imprisoned, continues to rejoice. He focuses on the power of prayer and God’s provision. This passage was hugely convicting and became the focus of my future outlook.
Can God really deliver us through these things? Does he? Will he?
Can I find the courage to not be ashamed of what has happened in my life? Will I have the courage to exalt God through my divorce experience and other challenges in life?
Future posts will discuss specific ways I have seen this confirmed in my life and encourage others not lose hope. I am dependent on his deliverance as I continue on the path of healing from the divorce and other challenges in life.
God is good! Be blessed…