Seems like a bizarre question to ask, doesn’t it? Let’s see — pain, hurt, financial challenges, emotional stretching, hopelessness, fear — none of these things sound good. Now, a great body, an exciting life, a solid marriage –that sounds good. That said, I’ve experienced that there can be a lot of good in divorce. Walk with me…
In The Beginning It Was Good
After dating for several years, I married John (not his real name). Both Christians, we immediately went to church together and did our best to honor God’s during our relationship. We loved each other, had fun, and also had our share of relationship challenges — just “run-of-the-mill” issues.
Too Much of a Bad Thing
Those issues got worse after marriage and we grew apart very early in the game. We both responded by pulling out our emotional and relational baggage and flinging it around in ways that would make any airport baggage staffer proud. In hindsight, I see so clearly that all of that behavior was sin — in my life and in John’s. Too bad we didn’t see it that way at the time, because the worst was yet to come.
From Bad to Worse
We were married two years when I found out about John’s infidelity. I sensed something was wrong well before I found out, but it took a while for the truth to surface. My immediate reaction to finding out about his affair was to get rid of the hurt, anger and bitterness I felt inside — so I let it out — on John. He tried to take it in stride, and over a few weeks, we decided to try to fix the mess.
After realizing we couldn’t fix anything while living together, we agreed that I would move out of our house. We went to Biblical counseling together and also worked on our individual issues with God so the marriage could get better. That was like trying to get blood out of a stone — hearts of stone.
Over a period of 5 months, John admitted to many more affairs in our past. Each admission stunned me. I mean, come on, how much can a person take? I thought hearing it over and over would get easier, but each admission was more painful and unbelievable. I had reached the end of myself, and felt like I was in a black hole.
The Light at The End Of the Tunnel
In hindsight, I see that God was showing me that I could not get through this without His help, and that this was a spiritual issue, not a marriage issue.
As I sorted through all the pain, emotional exhaustion and the burden of figuring out what to do, questions filled my mind. Questions like: Should I work on this marriage or divorce John?, What should John do in this?, What does God want?, If I make the wrong choice, will God not bless me?, and What does God want from me?. Good for me, the Bible answers many of these questions, and God wanted me to understand the answers and be changed, for His and my good.
God designed marriage and hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) because it breaks the marriage plan He created for us (Genesis 2:24~26). He allows for divorce in cases of infidelity (Matthew 5:32) because He knows it destroys the bond of marriage. And God always wants us to try to fix our bad relationships (Ephesians 4:32). In all of this, God wants us to keep a soft heart, open to His work in our lives.
Seeing the Trees From the Field
Slowly, I got it: this lesson was not about my marriage or divorce. It was about my willingness to see my own sin, let God change me through His strength, and trust God with my future. The lesson could have taken any form of challenges. For some people, it’s through illness or a job layoff. For me, it was though this marriage. Let me explain.
I’ve heard all my life that God uses every life circumstance for our spiritual good, to pull us closer to Him. I would roll my eyes and say, “Yeah, I get it”. Well, that reality hit me like a two-by-four between the eyes. I thought I knew how God worked, yet when faced with the most painful, challenging event of my adult life, I couldn’t see the reality of what it was — God stretching my spiritual growth through a life challenge.
Reality Shining Through
The first reality I learned was that I contributed sin into my marriage; God always forgives me, so I had no good reason to not forgive John. My fear and need for control in life limited my ability to see God’s guidance. All that negative emotion distracted me from focusing on God, so I took “control” and that sin made the larger spiritual lesson longer and harder than it needed to be.
God loves to shine His light on us so we can know Him – so deeply that our lives change for good as a result of our relationship with him. He won’t give up on what He loves; He will use any circumstance He wants to get our attention (Philippians 1:6).
The second reality was that I needed to fully trust God. All of that fear and control influenced my willingness to trust God with my future. I couldn’t step out in faith because I didn’t believe that God’s definition of “good” was the same as mine.
The funny part was that, obviously, my approach to “controlling” my marriage didn’t work; how could God make it any worse? I had to live by faith and trust, not by fear (2 Corinthians 5:7). If we know the outcome of any challenge in our lives, trust or faith isn’t necessary along the way. In order for me to trust God, I had to step out in faith on the things I didn’t see or understand.
Here’s the cool part: because God is in control of the universe (He created it!), I’m always safer in His hands than I could ever be in my own hands! I’d already seen that evidenced in my life.
There’s Never Too Much of a Good Thing
When I really “got it”, I let go of the fear and focused on the truth of the Bible and saw the truth of my marriage. I divorced John on the Biblical grounds of adultery. Good for me, God walked that road with me.
My faith has grown more in the past year than it has in ten years ? honestly! Taking that step of faith and trusting God’s goodness for my future was the most powerful spiritual event of my life, and I am truly full of joy in spite of the challenges in my life.
Don’t you want that kind of good in your life? Only God can provide it!
God used my divorce to bring me closer to Him ? for my spiritual good. I have faith that He also wants to use the events in your life to bring you closer to Him, too.
The truth is in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.
Whatever situation you face in your life, take the step of faith to fully trust God for your good future.
He’s so worth it! And so are you!
Copyright © 2005 by Grace Taylor. Used with permission.
* Names have been changed.
Grace Taylor is a pseudonym for a writer living in Chicago. Grace is on the road of divorce recovery and growing closer to God.[schemaapprating]