By Jen Grice, Crosswalk.com
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)
My divorce was finalized eight years ago. During the first years after, I could not see the blessings and restoration that I have seen and experienced since my divorce. I had no idea what the future would hold. I had a hard time just blindly trusting God–after all, He allowed my marriage to end and the divorce to continue even though we prayed for God to intervene.
During those days, when I wondered what life would be like five and ten years down the road, I became scared. I wanted to trust God and believe that He would give me a bright future, but I had no assurance of any of it. It became hard to hold onto that hope of what I could not see when it seemed like my world was falling apart.
My daily struggle was focusing on the pain I was experiencing. I could only see the destruction of our family and friendships. I could not see any positives coming out of my divorce because I only saw losses. I did not know how my faith would help me survive or how I would eventually thrive after divorce. But, today, eight years after my divorce, I am here to share that I did survive, am happily thriving, and walking with God through my redemptive restoration journey.
The Suffering of Divorce
I didn't want my divorce, but it happened anyway. The church prayed for his repentance and marital restoration. We hoped he'd turn back to God and live an obedient life. But that's not what happened. At the time, I didn't know why God would want me to experience the trauma of divorce, but it needed to happen to live out my life's purpose of encouraging and empowering Christian women to survive their divorce and thrive after.
I think most people wonder why they have to experience divorce, especially if they didn't see the divorce coming. It is like taking a sledgehammer to a pane of glass. Little pieces fly everywhere, and the shards injure people. Months and even years later, you're still finding glass pieces that seem to resurface out of nowhere. No family is immune. Someone is always affected more than another. And for some, the pain lingers for years.
In my newest book, Your Restoration Journey: Rediscovering your Faith & Yourself After Divorce, I share how God has a motive for your painful divorce. This is evident by many stories in the Bible, most notably the stories of Jesus and Job. Since the day sin entered the world, humans have known pain and suffering. We wrestle with our current situation and what is to come almost daily. We want to think that being a Christian means we get a pain-free life, but that's not the case.
We know in the end all will work out for our good, that's God's redemption plan, and He says so in His Word (Romans 8:28). But we do not know the amount of suffering we'll endure while here on earth. One of my favorite quotes states it better than I can.
"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." –– C.S. Lewis
This quote and Romans 8:28 (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.) were what reminded me that this wasn't the end of the story. I wanted to look at the destruction that was my marriage and the storm that was the divorce process. It was a difficult time, but my faith in what I could not yet see, which is my life now years later, kept me going. I had to trust that God would keep His promises and all would be worked out in the end.
Realizing the Purpose for Pain
Some say that divorce is never part of God's plan and is never warranted. But I believe God uses everything that happens in our lives to bring us back to Him. Although I knew God had a plan and would work things out, it wasn't until many years later that I realized the purpose for my pain. Pain that I never wanted to experience, but God has used to shape me into the vessel He uses to pour out His loving-kindness to divorced people.
During the worst time in Job's life, he reached out to God and found comfort. When Jesus was about to become the ultimate sacrifice for sin, he reached out to God. God didn't change their circumstances; He changed His son's heart to understand His purpose and Job's heart towards acceptance when there was no purpose. Job also realized that everything is from God and could be taken away at any moment.
During difficult times, we yearn to understand and share our pain with our Creator. Pain causes us to call out to Him. In return, He fills us with comfort and hope that things will be better one day. The purpose of our pain is to know Him, know His love, and believe in His promises. God only seeks to have a relationship with all of His children, not to hurt them. Through our pain, we realize our dependence on Him for everything. Without God, we have nothing.
Sharing God's Comfort with Others
During my divorce process and after, I felt very alone. There weren't many Christian ministries for women who had left an abusive and adulterous marriage. All I could find were ministries that wanted me to fight harder for my marriage. Instead, I tried to understand why I got into this type of relationship in the first place, so I didn't repeat that, and then to heal after. I just wanted to know I wasn't alone and feel some comfort from my pain.
I now use the comfort I received from God to comfort women who find my ministry and want to know how they can get through their unwanted divorce. I write books for women going through a divorce or healing after. And I remind them that they will not only survive this season but also learn to thrive again in the future and become stronger.
Divorce is not a life sentence of punishment because you found yourself divorced. It is a new beginning where your relationship with God is stronger, and your purpose in life becomes more apparent. God would love to use you as well. To bring comfort to those who are hurting after their divorce or in other challenging life circumstances. He really does use our pain for a purpose.
God's Promises to Divorced People
Digging deeper into God's Word during and after my divorce not only taught me a lot about His love but also how God's promises are for divorced women (and men) too. God promises not to leave or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8). God is with you and goes before you. He will fight for you; He already has done so, so you only need to stay calm (Exodus 14:14). And most importantly, God will provide for you, His precious child, so you need not worry (Matthew 6:25-26).
Through my ministry, I share the 10 Scripture promises for the divorced woman and many other words of encouragement to get you through your divorce and the healing season after. I share God's truth and comfort with divorcing or divorced Christians because I know what it is like to be condemned, criticized, and shunned for being a divorced woman. I know I'm not alone. And I hope my writing and videos help you to keep the faith and hope that is in God's promises during your divorce.
Jen Grice is a divorce coach and author of the books, You Can Survive Divorce and Your Restoration Journey about recovery and redemption after divorce. After her own unwanted divorce in 2013, Jen started a ministry to encourage and empower Christian women to not only survive but thrive after divorce caused by adultery, abuse, or abandonment. You can learn more about her ministry at JenGrice.com. Jen can also be found on YouTube talking about preparing for and divorcing a narcissist. And her books can be found at B&N or on Amazon.