Replace pride with gratitude

Christian brother and sister, upon hearing that the new visitor at church is divorce, what first goes through your mind?

Do you remind yourself that God hates divorce?

Do you wonder what s/he did to end up divorced?

Do you assume s/he gave up too easily?

This isn’t a trick question.  We all have knee-jerk reactions and thoughts to a variety of scenarios.  We all have a automatic mental response when we hear someone is divorced.

Does hearing of someone else’s divorced status swell you with pride because you are still happily married? Or because you are unhappily married, but haven’t given up? Or because you were on the brink of divorce yourself at one point, but through hard word, your marriage has been restored?

If so, if you can see a hint of truth in the above, may I challenge you for a moment, from the Word directly.

“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”  1 Corinthians 4:7

Do you have a rock solid marriage? Praise God, and thank Him for His goodness to you.

Do you have a horrid marriage but are holding on for dear life? Praise God for the perseverance He has given you, and that your spouse hasn’t bailed, because it only takes one person to lead a marriage to divorce.

Has your marriage made a complete 180 and is now in the land of wonderful? Thank the Lord for His immense kindness to you, softening your heart and softening your spouse’s heart so that both of you were willing and able to reconcile and build a God honoring marriage.

But please, oh please, don’t fool yourself.

Don’t for a second think that your intact marriage has occurred because of your sweat equity.  Don’t for a moment delude yourself into believing that you deserve kudos while that divorcee just couldn’t cut mustard.  Don’t be tempted to believe the lies of the evil one who wants to blind you from the reality that your marriage is in the Lord’s hands, just as much as that divorcee’s marriage was, and the only thing stopping you from taking a fatal nosedive is God’s grace in your life, preserving, or renewing your marriage relationship.

Try to absorb this for a moment — the same God, whose grace in your life preserved a marriage, is the same God who bestowed grace on that divorcee taking him/her into that nosedive.

The Lord gives each of us what we need to be more conformed to the image of His Son.  The Lord will bring us through experiences that we individually need to be more conformed to the image of His Son.  The fairy tale marriage, the lifelong marriage that is always in crisis, the marriage saved from the brink of destruction, and yes, even the divorce are all used by the same Sovereign One to do the necessary work in each heart.

But God hates divorce, you say in protest.

He sure does. Divorce in the Old Testament, which is the section of the Bible where we see the words, “God hates divorce,” was only to be the result of adultery.  If there was biblical divorce, then that meant there was adultery.  Of course God hates it.  Even we sinful humans can see the tragedy of adultery, the pain it causes, and the harm that results.  Divorce rips apart a union that was never meant to be separated.

But just as in every other tragedy, the Lord reigns sovereign.

His will be done.

But you are excusing people who divorce, you are thinking.

I am merely acknowledging a reality in this sin filled world. It takes two people to make a marriage work well, but it only takes one to bring upon divorce.

If one spouse decides s/he is done, ultimately there is little the other can do to stop the inevitable.

That does not mean one doesn’t keep praying and keep trying — those are thoughts for another post.

Today is about trading in pride for gratitude.

As I have walked the journey the Lord set out for me, and as I have recounted the stigma that I was not eager to acquire, I was told by multiple couples that my story could very well have been their story, had not the LORD intervened. Each one had different details, but the plot was the same. Deep marital struggles. Divorce seemed inevitable. By God’s grace, not only did they “hold on,” but the Lord did a work of restoration, bringing about a thriving, Christ-centered marriage.

That is a God work, not something man can manufacture.

So next time you look at a divorced person, instead of pride or judgement, shift your thinking to gratitude for the way the Lord has chosen to write your story, and pray for that man/woman to follow hard after Christ.

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