Question (from the Facebook community): “My marriage is full of pain and abuse…my family is being torn apart…where is God now?”
About seven years ago, I went through one of the most painful stretches of life I had ever experienced up til that point. What made this time so unique and excruciating for me was that I was doing every single thing I knew how to do to cling to God but I was not feeling his presence or his peace no matter what I tried. I was confused, disappointed and hurt. I thought he promised unexplainable peace, I kept asking people. What am I doing wrong?
It turns out, I was doing nothing wrong. Because one day while I was sitting outside trying to pray, I felt God speak to my heart: “There are things you won’t understand and can’t understand. My ways are higher than your ways. Besides, if I were completely understandable, what kind of God would I be?” Oh. Right.
Author Renee Altson says, “The truth is…God doesn’t always provide when we think he should, and sometimes, his provision looks nothing like we expect it to. God might provide a way of escape, but it might begin past the path of grief or sorrow or betrayal. Isn’t the wonder of God, of Jesus, that they are beyond our ultimate understanding? Isn’t the mystery part of the story? Isn’t the unknowing part of what makes it so beautiful?”
I know that in the middle of deep pain, we’re not really interested in the mystery of God. We want to feel and experience the strength and power and peace that we believe he can give. We don’t want to have to just trust that it’s there somewhere. But that may be one of the lessons God wants us to learn in this tough time of a difficult marriage or a separation or divorce. He may be asking of us to go deeper in our faith, beyond what we normally experience. He may want us to recommit, to dig in our heels.
I remember coming back from a run one morning, still dark outside, during that painful season all those years ago. I stood at the end of my driveway and looked up at the sky. I yelled at God, telling him that he could stay away as long as he wanted to but that I wasn’t going anywhere…that I wasn’t walking away that easily. And he could even treat me (in my perception) not all that great, but I was going to keep on trusting him. And here’s why. Because author Larry Crabb says that while Christ is preparing a place for you and me, the Holy Spirit is preparing us to meet Jesus face to face. And our trials are what complete us and prepare us. And I desperately want (and still do) to be prepared for that moment.
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.
A couple things you can try to reconnect with God’s presence:
Check your heart. His Spirit can be quenched within us, so make sure that you’re not carrying some secret sin that is holding you back from sweet communion with him.
Try something new. Maybe you need to shake up how you bond with God. Talk to him outloud, journal, look for him in nature or at a different church for a few Sundays.
Ask others to stand in the gap. Sometimes we’re just too weary to pray on our own. Tell a trusted friend that you’re not feeling God these days and ask her to pray for the awareness of the presence to return and to pray in your place for a time.
Remind yourself that it’s still there and always will be. He hasn’t left you. His love will never be taken away from you. You will need to trust the thing you don’t understand. That’s part of the mystery.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:38-39-
Thank you for this post, i am a male and have been following your blog for a long time. I am in the same situation, so much pain, so much depression, i cry out to God so much lately. I just want to feel his loving arms around me like i use to. My heart bleeds for all those who are in these painful situations of seperation and divorce. Especially for the children. Thank you for sharing, Blessings.
Thanks for your post. I found it through a friend’s FB post. I am going through a very difficult season. One of the things I have found that brings me into God’s presence and peace is telling Him what I’m thankful for. He hears all our prayers but heaven itself is drawn to a grateful heart. No matter what we have going on in our lives, if we are His, we have much to be thankful for. I don’t always feel His peace immediately nor do the anxiety/fear (whatever thing I’m dealing with) necessarily disappear but I am able to walk forward. As the day goes on I see Him working, feel at peace and am then able to be thankful for that. I am currently using, Jesus Calling, for my devotion time. I highly recommend it.
As usual, insightful, practical and compassionate.
I remember when I was really in the midst of a storm and I felt so lost, it’s funny, when I finally yielded to God, even though my circumstances didn’t change immediately, my perspective started to and it made all the difference.
Recently I was reading Phillipians 4:6-7 which talks about not being anxious and praying and releasing our concerns to God. The thing that struck me about that verse was the part at the end when it says that the peace of God which passeth all understanding might GUARD your heart and minds. The word guard really got my attention. Because the truth is anxiety, pain, fear and sadness can crush you, destroy you and turn you into something other than the amazing person you were created to be. I know this because I let it change me for a period of time and one day I yielded. And the peace came. And this is true whether the storm is as a result of a relationship or something else. Storms are storms and peace is peace.
May we all be guarded by His peace.
I wanted to share a post I wrote years ago, as the peace began to descend on me. Even today it still reminds me that as Elisabeth wrote…”I felt God speak to my heart: “There are things you won’t understand and can’t understand. My ways are higher than your ways. Besides, if I were completely understandable, what kind of God would I be?” Oh. Right.”