Yesterday was Father's Day. A day for family. A day for celebrating fathers who have supported and championed us as we pursue the path we have been given.
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a blog post about Lysa Terkeurst's intent to end her marriage. (Read my post here.) As the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa wrote a difficult message to her readers explaining why she felt divorce was her only option. (Read her post here.) Lysa's agony was clear as she concluded that her husband was not willing to be faithful to their marriage and restore what God had joined.
Yesterday Lysa posted on her social media accounts a picture of her entire family- including her husband- celebrating a joyous Father's Day together. Her message reads:
"A gift. A hard prayed for and fought for, glorious, messy, miraculous, honest, treasured gift of together. Happy Father’s Day Art! The way you have pursued the Lord, healing, and us... is evidence of God’s supernatural grace and goodness. I’m praying for everyone praying for a miracle today. God has a plan but it will probably unfold in a way you never thought it would."
Wow. The hundreds of comments below Lysa's miraculous message are congratulatory, hopeful, relieved, emotional responses from women who have often prayed and begged God to restore Lysa and Al's marriage. The women praise God for his faithfulness. His love and restorative grace in their lives. And rightfully so. I am so thankful that Lysa and Al have put in the hard work to heal hurts and reconnect with a God who believes in marriage. This is amazing news.
But what about those of us who prayed our little hearts out and did everything imaginable to restore our marriages to no avail?
Does God love us less? Are we less "blessed" than those who have a restored marriage?
Are we worthless because our ex-husband's did not work to save our marriages?
Logically, the answer to all of these questions is an emphatic NO. But illogically we doubt God's love for us. We wonder, why God did you help them restore their marriage and you allowed mine to end in a brutal divorce?
Did I not pray enough or believe enough or try hard enough?
No dear friend. You are beloved of God. You are precious to him and God wanted nothing more than to save your marriage too. I truly believe that. God hates divorce because he understands the terrible, awful, heart-crushing process that leaves you wondering if you can even go on.
But God does not control the hearts of men. God gives man a choice. The choice to walk away or to stay. Lysa thanks her husband Art for the way he "pursued the Lord, healing, and us". This was a choice that Art made and still must make. Yes, it had to do with Lysa but more importantly it had to do with his choice to come back faithfully to a God who wanted to restore their marriage. Not every spouse will make this choice and that is not in our control.
Here are some things to keep in mind when God appears to be "blessing" everyone with marital restoration except for you.
1. Know that God loves you more than you can ever imagine and if your marriage ends he will love you just the same.
2. Know that God will work your grief and pain to bring you into a closer relationship with Him- if you will draw near.
3. Know that even when your spouse rejects you, God will never cast you aside. He will never abandon you.
Instead of asking: Why save their marriage and not mine?
What other plans does God have for me to pursue now?
What is the next step for me on my own?
How can I rely on God to become more of who he made me? What is my identity in Christ without my spouse?
Should I engage in a community with other women who have been hurt by an unwanted divorce?
I'm so thankful to know and love a God who restores marriages that seem broken beyond repair. I will continue to pray for Lysa and Art as they navigate a new relationship with God and with each other.
But when your marriage is never restored in spite of your best efforts and prayers, this is not God's doing. Your spouse's choices do not diminish God's love for you. His special plans for you endure regardless of your marital status.
God has equipped you with the tools and skills you need to remain faithful to him regardless of a restored marriage. Engage in your purposes and look up to a God who never waivers in his allegiance.
Hugs and prayers to each man and woman pursuing a restored marriage and each one who has had to learn again how to go on when marriage ends.