Part 2 of Kristin’s story. (Please click here for Part 1.)
It has been 11 months. 11 months since my husband of nearly 7 years walked out the door. 11 months since he physically left what he had already emotionally shut down. I can’t believe it’s been a year. In most ways, it feels like another lifetime. I’m repeatedly reminded of the verse in Genesis when Joseph tells his brothers,
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20
Now, I have no aspirations of actually saving anyone’s life. But I do know and have seen repeatedly, both during my year of suffering as well as since it all ended, that God is using the “harm” that came upon me in my life last year to be a light of hope to others who have also found themselves in difficult times, be it being abandoned by a spouse as I was, divorced almost overnight as is the case for others, or any other suffering that can occur in this imperfect world. This is the “intended for good” portion. The portion that God is using to bring His light and love through me to anyone and everyone who needs it. It is a humbling experience. But God uses the weakest of us time and again throughout history to accomplish His work.
Encouraging others feeds my soul. I believe it is one of the gifts the Lord has given me. So it is not in the least bit surprising to me that God brought me through a difficult storm because it led to me having the ability to speak directly to other suffering women who were and still are in the same shoes I was in not long ago. The most heartfelt encouragement comes from experience. One cannot offer advice or wisdom on a subject one has only read about in books. This is the power of the body of Christ. We all have different, yet similar, life experiences and are made to live in community with one another. Living in community means not being isolated, not keeping quiet, offering words of encouragement and hope, as well as being on the receiving end of said help. There are many verses speaking to the importance of encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 3:2 and 4:18).
- “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” – Hebrews 3:13-14
We are not meant to live life alone. Do not give into the lie that you are alone. It is just that, a lie, and so very far from the truth.
- “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16 (emphasis mine)
- “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8
God has brought me through this storm and I am stronger than ever.
I can see now that what I had in my life was not meant to be my forever. I firmly believe that things could have gone a different direction if my ex-husband had chosen to follow Christ and chosen our marriage. However, in God’s great mercy, He knew that would not be the case. We have free will and there are consequences. In my case, the consequence to my ex-husband’s choice to walk away resulted in divorce. But I can honestly say I am so very thankful for the Lord saving me from a loveless marriage for the rest of my life. I know He has wept with me over the year as I mourned the death of a lifelong commitment.
I can say with full confidence that I have faced my greatest fear – the fear of losing my spouse in one way or another – and life DOES go on. There is joy and hope to be had. I had joy and I had hope even in the middle of my storm. The ONLY reason for this was my resting in the Lord. I miss the deeper sweetness with Jesus that came in the eye of the storm when I was at my lowest. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything because I saw a side of God that could not have been experienced if I had not been in that place. I had been brought to the end of myself and found so much more of Him than I could have imagined.
- “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18
Here’s the thing about this verse. It all comes back to experience. Just as you can only encourage others from what you, yourself, have experienced firsthand, so it is with knowing the “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” This facet of God is only experienced when you have been “brokenhearted” and “crushed in spirit.” Friends, this is cause for hope! This is the reason my time with the Lord was so sweet in the midst of my suffering. I was brokenhearted. I was crushed in spirit.
But I called out to God and guess what? He came nearer than ever before in my life. He is faithful to ALL of His promises.
We all have our own ideas of what we think would be the best thing for us whether life is going well or it’s spiraling out of control. However, God’s answers don’t always resemble our ideas. I certainly never prayed for my marriage to end. I prayed for the Lord’s will to be done. I know this to be true: whatever path the Lord has you on, it is for your GOOD. It is not to make you miserable or because He doesn’t care. Quite the contrary. He loves us so much that He will use the tragic events in life to show us how much we need Him as well as use them for our good and His glory.
- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
To those of you who are in the middle of your storms and cannot yet see the light at the end of the tunnel, may I encourage you that there IS a light. You just have to keep looking UP and not straight ahead.
- “My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.” – Psalm 25:25
Think of Peter when he was told to step out of the boat, in faith, and walk on water as Jesus did (Matthew 14:22-32). The second he took his eyes off Jesus and looked instead at the circumstances around him, he fell into the ocean. Lock eyes with the only One who can keep your feet on solid ground. He sees you. He loves you. And He is not finished with you.
Kristin’s husband would not stay with her – in spite of her willingness to obey God and work through their problems. There are times when a wife may do everything RIGHT – and still, her husband may not respond or may decide to sin against her. This is not the ending that any of us would pray for. But, it is not yet the end of Kristin’s story. I can tell you this… she and I emailed often during the worst part of this storm last year. Yes, Kristin hurt deeply, but – she also had full trust in Christ that was the most amazing thing to see. Her faith matured, blossomed and became such a thing of exquisite beauty during this trial. Her peace was real. Her joy was real. Even in the midst of her pain.
I pray that God will draw her husband back to Himself. I know that many of you have unbelieving husbands. Their greatest need is Jesus! That is a much greater need than even keeping the covenant marriage vows they have made. How I pray for God to draw each of your husbands to Himself. We can be a light to them. We can shine and demonstrate the power and love of God in our own lives – showing them Christ in us by our respectful attitudes and actions – not by preaching/lecturing/nagging/shaming/demanding/criticizing them (I Peter 3:1-6). But, ultimately, it is between our husbands and God to work our our husbands’ salvation. We cannot force them to come to Christ in our own power. It is actually possible to make our husbands’ salvation into an idol we cherish more than Christ. For more about that, please read this post, “My Secret Idol.”
Our responsibility is for ourselves: our sin, our obedience to God, our relationship with God, our actions, our words, our responses.
We are not responsible for our husbands sin, their obedience to God, their relationship with God, their actions, their words or their responses. They will stand accountable to God for all of those things just was we will when this life is over.
Our obedience to God and our being filled with God’s Spirit helps to influence our husbands for Christ and makes it easier for them to come to Him and to us – but we are not guaranteed they will do any of those things.
My concerns are that:
- When we stand before Christ, He says to each of us, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”
- God brings the greatest glory to Himself possible through each of our lives.
- We might be faithful and obedient to God.
- We might become more and more like Christ.
- Jesus might be, by FAR, the most important person/thing in our lives.
- God might accomplish His good purposes in us.
- We might rest and trust in God’s sovereignty and love for us no matter how bad the storms get around us.
- God might use us to draw many to Himself.
Ultimately, this journey about becoming a godly, peaceful woman is ALL about us and Christ. It has very little to do with our husbands. Our husbands may be beneficiaries of what God does in our hearts. But – Jesus is our Reward, our Rock, our Portion, our Treasure, our Pearl of Great Price, our Shelter, our Refuge, our Deliverer, our Great Physician, our Good Shepherd, our Light, our Truth, our Way to God. He is all we truly need. If we have Him, His Word and His Spirit – we have EVERYTHING that matters. If we have everything else in the world but do not have Him – we have NOTHING of real value.
How I pray for God’s will, His glory and His power to work in each of your lives and that His purposes might be accomplished for His kingdom in your heart and soul.