Divorce. It’s a terrible word, especially when you are a Christian and you think it is the wrong thing to do. But, it happened to me despite all my efforts, and I came out of it with a stronger faith in God. But it didn’t happen instantly.
I knew there were problems in our relationship: he had a wandering eye for the ladies and a weakness for drink. I was sure that if I prayed enough, things would get better because he was a Christian, although backslidden. I dutifully prayed that he would be delivered of his lust for women and for the drink.
Time passed, but things did not improve. I was puzzled because I was sure God could make things better. Twice he was unfaithful, and I forgave him. The drinking steadily worsened and he avoided God. Desperately I read endless books on relationships and how I needed to act so God would fix things, but nothing seemed to help.
We moved because he was certain a new job and a new city would make things better. I became pregnant with our second child. Surely now things would improve, I thought. But I was wrong, suddenly I was left pregnant and homeless with a six-year-old child.
What I did wrong
I became very angry with God. Why had he not fixed my marriage? How could he let this terrible thing happen to me? I could not pray, I stopped reading my Bible, and I stopped going to church. Why should I go when God had let me down? The betrayal that I had experienced from my husband coloured how I looked at God.
Of course, this was the worst thing I could do when facing a crisis like this. Repressed anger can lead to depression and I became depressed. The depression kept me in a mental fog that made it very difficult to cope.
My anger towards God made me very reluctant to pray or read the Bible. I began to doubt the goodness of God. I had lost hope and the Word says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
I moved to a different town, close to my family, and they helped me through the hardest period. As I started to recover, I realized that I had been unfair to God. I was too ashamed for a while to approach Him and ask for forgiveness. It was almost impossible to pray and I was reluctant to open my Bible.
What I realized
God wanted to heal my marriage and my husband, but He wouldn’t. It wasn’t because He didn’t care; He cared very much. It wasn’t because He couldn’t, because God is all powerful. It was because He has given each one of us free will.
You see, if we didn’t have free will we couldn’t choose to love God or not, and love not given freely isn’t love at all. So, because my husband in his free will refused to obey God, God would not force him to do what was right.
Unfortunately, the bad choices that others make can hurt us a lot, but God will not force anyone to bend to His will because He wants us all to obey out of love for Him. That is why there are murderers, thieves, and liars. God in His abundant mercy is giving them time to realize their sins and repent.
Joshua was confronted with people who did not want to serve God. He understood that following God was a choice and he said, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
What I did right
When I finally understood how much God loved me, and still loves me, I repented of my anger towards Him. I wept cleansing tears that washed away a lot of hurt and hopelessness.
I started to read my Bible daily again, getting reacquainted with the word. I began to pray again, although it was very difficult at first. My prayers were short and superficial, but as I began to open my heart to God, they grew in depth and power.
I began to look for a place of fellowship as I started to revive spiritually. I had moved to a new town and did not have a network of fellow believers to keep me accountable. I felt a hunger for worship alongside others. I went to several churches until I found the one that felt like home to me.
Hardest of all, I forgave. I am embarrassed when I think of how long it took me to do this. In my new church, I learned a truth that was new to me: the healing power of forgiveness.
When you hold on to the hurts that others have inflicted on you and don’t forgive the other person, you give them power over you. Unforgiveness acts like cancer in your heart and can even lead to physical sickness.
God has forgiven us of all our sins and expects us to show forgiveness to others (whether or not they deserve it—remember, we did not deserve our forgiveness). “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14).
I am so glad that God took me through this terrible time of testing because of the lessons I learned from it. I am a stronger and better person for having been through them and I hope that by sharing my story with you, you will be too.