Three years ago, Lysa Terkeurst and her husband presented themselves before man and God and renewed their vows following a painful separation after infidelity. They gave so much hope to those who walked the painful path of infidelity, a reminder that God is able.
And God is really able.
He is able to heal the most broken marriage. Restore the most dysfunctional relationship. Give new life to the addict. Change the hardest heart.
He is able to do all new things. To pick up the most broken heart and create a new heart. He is able to take the most broken people – in relationships – in hearts – and put them back together.
But sometimes it just doesn’t turn out the way we expected.
The way we prayed.
As we hoped.
Sometimes we are broken, devastated, even in the grip of despair. Sometimes our relationships are not healed because it takes two people willing to do the hard work of seeking God and each other.
And we have no control over another person’s will.
On New Years Eve, Lysa Terkeurst delivered what is arguably the most heartbreaking and devastating message when she began to share that she had prayed and sought God for her marriage. When she shared that she had fought for her marriage with every ounce of her being. When she shared the pain of the ongoing betrayal. When she has shared this even though he can, sometimes our spouse is just not willing.
It is now – in the face of “chosen behaviors that dishonor God and the Bible marriage covenant” – that she has reached a point where she feels God has told her that the right decision is to stop fighting for. save her marriage and accept reality instead.
By reading his post on Facebook here, I have found four key truths for those of us who experience the pain of prayers that were not answered as we hoped:
The future is different. Oh, how I remember! When my marriage fell apart, I felt like I had worked on this huge jigsaw puzzle for years to get someone to come and knock all the pieces on the ground. I started frantically trying to put the pieces back together, but the pieces all looked different and didn’t fit together anymore. There were huge sections that had just disappeared. This puzzle just didn’t look like the one I’d spent 17 years working on.
Now that I’m on the other side, I can tell that God clearly had the top of the box – the one that had the end product. There are beautiful aspects of my old life that have remained intact, but if I’m honest God had a much more meaningful end product in mind. It is nothing like what I expected, but it is amazing in a way that I never imagined possible! Instead of a simple puzzle, he created an amazing mosaic from all the broken pieces – and it’s more beautiful than I ever dreamed of possible!
There is a difference between errors and ungodly patterns. For years, I have excused my husband’s actions as mistakes. The truth is, my husband chose behaviors that caused deep and deep pain for those of us who were closest to him. I made mistakes – the inappropriate word, the poorly worded criticism, the tendency to allow. It was never intentional, and I have always sought forgiveness.
But role models? Pornography. Obscene tirades. Use fear to control. Lustful thoughts and actions. Repeated without any desire for repentance.
Honestly, Galatians 5: 19-21a sums up the models of ungodliness pretty well when he speaks of the works of the flesh: When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, witchcraft, hostility, quarrels, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties and other sins like these.
God is still in the business of redemption. I wasn’t so sure about redemption at the start of this trip, but today. Today I am absolutely 100% convinced of the redemption of a God who loves us so much!
Redemption may seem different to each of us, but there is one thing we can count on: If we experience the pain of this life, we will also experience its healing.
He tore us to pieces; now he’s going to heal us. He hurt us; now he will heal our wounds. In no time he will restore us, Hosea 6: 1-2
For me, redemption includes the experience of an earthly love that God has provided for us here on this earth, the love of a man who loves as Christ loved the church. But even if God hadn’t taken Roy, my life would have been so much richer and more beautiful because of the intimacy I experienced with my Father during my darkest days.
Forgiveness is essential. Learning to let go of pain and trust God is essential to finding peace and joy in your new life. Holding back bitterness is the surest way to find endless pain and bondage.
It is important to note that forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation. Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. It just means that we release the pain someone has caused us and trust God to handle it in his time and in his own way.
I will never forget the day God brought forgiveness to my heart. My step was lighter. My joy has returned. I was free! Who wouldn’t want that?
I’ll close with a simple quote from Lysa that sums it all up: “Sometimes the culmination of all our efforts and the answer to our prayers is for God to restore us in relationships. And sometimes it saves us from relationships. I don’t understand why circumstances sometimes turn out as my story unfolds now. But I remain steadfast in my faith and trust God with every step. “