Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world’s tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I, be not afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, “If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it.” “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that he governs wisely, that he brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, “Send me what thou wilt, my God, so long as it comes from thee; never came there an ill portion from thy table to any of thy children.”
“Say not my soul, ‘From whence can God relieve my care?’
Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.
His method is sublime, his heart profoundly kind, God never is before his time, and never is behind.”
[bold emphases mine]
That invisible hand is with me. The sharp cuts of the lancet will soon cut out my cancer and He will facilitate healing. The Great Physician who healed my sin-sick soul is present with me now. These were my thoughts at 4:30am, the morning of my surgery.
7:30am – my surgeon approaches my bed and says, I’m so sorry, your surgery is cancelled. I looked at him and laughed, thinking, cute joke….but he was serious. There was an emergency case and my anesthesiologist was summoned to it. My doctor was furious. The surgical nurse was, too. In the hallway, there was a heated meeting of men and women in blue scrubs. The hospital bumped my surgery, and I was the only 8am surgery scheduled. How could they not have another anesthesiologist available? My doctor said he would never again use this particular hospital for his surgeries.
Tears flowed as I said, I can’t go back home! I want this out now! My doctor had compassion, and it looked real. He grabbed my hand.
I want to help you, he said.
But unless the surgery could start by 9am, it was impossible. The da Vinci robot was set up and ready for me in the OR. My surgeon had that room for 4 hours. Then he had other surgeries scheduled in other hospitals.
Just then, the surgical nurse said, wait a minute! She was the diplomat, negotiating for me. She ran off to talk to someone else.
Pacing figures walked passed my room in the hallway. The nurse returned to tell me that another anesthesiologist was on his way. At 8:45, I was whisked away to the OR.
Just in time.
My Lord moved mountains for me. Omnipotence has servants everywhere. He moved hearts that morning, for me.
The morning after surgery, my doctor came in to check on me. I said, Praise the Lord that this surgery is done!
He said, It took an act of God to get your surgery done.
While this blog’s focus is on remarriage after divorce from a Reformed perspective, I thought it appropriate to post my testimony of God’s care during the time of my separation, divorce and eventual relocation from New York to Indiana. I pray that readers can see evidence of the Lord’s mercy and long-suffering toward me through His miracles and kind Providence displayed while I forged through deep waters. My prayer is for this post to be an encouragement to women faced with infidelity, abandonment, divorce and the despair that goes with it. Names are changed to protect privacy.
December 30, 2002. Long Island, New York.
“I’m not in love with you anymore.” The words pierced my heart like a knife. They echoed in my brain as I drove to work.
Fleeting thought: All I have to do is glide over into oncoming traffic and close my eyes.
I wasn’t in love with him either. But I loved him with an abiding, comfortable love most long marriages enjoy. Being in love was juvenile euphoria and hormones. Wasn’t our long history together precious to him?
“You can have the house.” He’d already divvied up the goods with devious calculation. I thought about the long years spent here raising our three children. My heart was in the home while his had been far away.
“Now you’ll have to work full time,” he sneered. He loved this part. My provider resented providing for me. I felt that resentment while watching our boys play Little League Baseball. He admired the women who did it all. Those women who came to the games late, stylishly adorned in career garb, trendy haircuts and make-up. I graced the bleachers in my frumpy sweats and a t-shirt. Funny, but those women envied me. They witnessed his affection for me in public. Apparently, it made him appear heroic. Perfect husband.
I was a Christian since childhood. I thought my family life was near exemplary. My husband held my hand in the mall. He bragged about my cooking, my frugality, and my decorating skills. For so many years, he doted on me. I felt secure in his love, never doubted it. Betrayal was totally unexpected. I was fooled for 23 years.
The words of his mouth were softer than butter, yet war was in his heart, his words were more gentle than oil, yet they were swords. – Psalm 55:21
On a frigid day in January, my husband left our home for his new apartment in the city. Thus began the four worst years of my life.
My sons were 21 (away at college) and 18 (a senior in high school). My daughter was 13 and she suffered most. I’d get up for work to discover her curled up in bed, unable to go to school. Piano lessons stopped.
Something like adrenalin kicked in. My body kept going, zombie-like. The body that shed fifty-seven pounds so he might love me again. The body that only craved liquid dinner after work – wine that calmed me and helped me forget. Anger stirred me. Then complete sadness overtook me. I reminisced. I rehashed, analyzed and cried. I played games like revenge dating, hoping he would be jealous. It only hurt more when he wasn’t.
I filed for a legal separation to protect myself and ensure that he’d give me monthly support. I needed to stay afloat and pay the mortgage. I prayed he would have a change of heart and told the kids to pray for the same. I didn’t want a divorce. Six months later, he was sure he did.
John Flavel wrote: “The Providence of God is like Hebrew words. It can only be read backwards.” I remember wrestling with going back to work six years earlier. Homemaking gave me all the creative outlets I craved, but my husband admired those career moms. I took the hint. My degree in Advertising Art was twenty years old and computers had taken over the design profession. Unequipped to revive my art ‘career’, I was hired as a proofreader at a small community newspaper. My boss allowed me to learn graphic design on their office computers. Self-taught, I joined the design staff shortly after. Even though I really didn’t want to re-enter the workforce, in doing so, the Lord prepared me for what was ahead.
When my Judas left, I was a single mom with updated skills and six years of experience in graphic art. I got a full time job in what I called the Ad Agency from Hell. The place was a horror, but I couldn’t be picky. I thought if I had to continue working, I needed to get out of the advertising industry. I enrolled in college for a Bachelor’s degree with a minor in writing. I carried twelve credits per semester and worked a 4pm to midnight shift at the agency. Foolishly, I dated subpar men via online dating just to have something to look forward to on the weekends.
My daughter and I hardly saw each other. She called me at work many nights, just before my shift was over, asking me to pick up gooey brownies or some other sweet and I obliged her. We had to keep our endorphins flowing. There I was at the 24-hour supermarket, wearily buying some mood enhancer. It’s the little things that keep you going during devastating times. Little things like a quiet cup of coffee, a brownie, or Godiva ice cream. Mommie Dearest met her match when, in desperation, I devoured my daughter’s Godiva ice cream when my own pint was gone. I knew I’d suffer her wrath, but did it anyway. She never lets me forget this.
I shouldn’t have dated at all while merely separated and vulnerable. My rationale was broken vows meant we were already divorced. I wanted to cling to someone again, while Jesus, the only One I needed, was waiting for me ever patiently, to come to my senses. My disobedience only resulted in chastening. There was a car accident, there was pain, there was more agony. I sought counsel, though it was not the wise kind. My liberal Lutheran pastor gave me worldly psychobabble, not Biblical wisdom. The Lord beckoned me through a Sunday School lesson I taught to five year olds. Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and his friends couldn’t even stay awake with him. Did he feel alone? Abandoned? Friendless? He was speaking to me and I drew near to Him. As I did, He drew nearer to me.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:8
After two years, and with the divorce final, I resolved to stop dating. I studied, worked, wrote papers, slept. Realizing local churches were in apostasy, I tuned in to sermonaudio.com each Sunday instead. There I found the meat of Gospel Truth like the reformed preaching I’d been listening to for years on radio. Through the website, I discovered a local church that preached reformed theology and began attending.
Meanwhile, each weekday afternoon I was frantically pumping on my elliptical while praying, Lord, get me out of here. This was my ritual before I headed to the ad agency. I prayed for a sabbatical. Lord, please make it a long one. At least six months. I’m so tired.
My daughter had been communicating with someone she’d met online since she was 14. Lori assured me they met unintentionally through a gaming site chat room. This young Christian man helped her through her emotional struggles in dealing with her father’s abandonment. They talked on the phone for hours. Romance blossomed. It was time for us to meet this Indiana boy. I knew that Lori was wise beyond her years, but I wasn’t sure she was mature enough to trust her feelings. I glared at this Country Boy, interrogated him at my kitchen table, and spoiled his appetite for the New York pizza I’d bragged about. Once recovered, the Country Boy got a tour of New York City.
Lori suggested we move to Indiana. I searched online for Indianapolis homes and their affordability tempted me. I knew I couldn’t keep our house on my salary. I didn’t want to either. The house haunted us with past memories. Lori and I had enough. Eventually, my sons moved out and were managing on their own. Our turn came to visit Indianapolis. Continue reading →
Divorce is worse than death. When a spouse dies, a wife or husband has left the other unwillingly. Perhaps the death was preceded by tearful good-byes on a sickbed. In divorce, a spouse leaves willingly. Pain of loss is hard enough, but the anguish that comes from betrayal and rejection is gut-wrenching. It took me years to recover and I still have days that I’m not sure if I’m completely healed. I heard talk about ‘the gift of singleness’ but for me, singleness was more of a trial. While deep loneliness prevailed I wondered, does God allow remarriage after divorce? Were there truly Biblical grounds for my divorce? Will I commit a more heinous sin by seeking a new mate? I googled for answers. To my dismay, I discovered John Piper’s view that forbids remarriage after divorce no matter what the circumstance. Here is his position paper on the subject:
Shock, rage and despair filled my confused brain as I read. Yes, I had to pay the piper after the sin of divorce. But did I have to listen to this Piper? I’d heard of John Piper and thought he was pretty solid in the Reformed camp. I myself was a mere babe in that camp. I didn’t even attend a Reformed church yet. Let me backtrack a bit:
I was brought up in a Pentecostal church. As a teenager, I began to question Pentecostal obsession with tongues, emotionalism and whether the sign gifts had ceased. At age 23, I thought I married a believer. We were both professing Christians. He had left the Roman Catholic Church and began attending a mega non-denominational church with me. There is no such thing as non-denominational. These churches hide behind that title but are still largely practicing Pentecostalism or ‘charismania’. Digging through church history in search of a true church, I read about the Reformation. Like Charlie Brown in a light-bulb moment, I said, ‘that’s it! Martin Luther got it right!’ The Lutheran Church close to home was our choice and we attended there with our three children for about ten years. Sadly, mainstream Lutheranism is a far cry from what Martin Luther intended. My husband and I later realized its liberalism, and we did some church-hopping toward the end of the marriage but never agreed on a church. Hungry for truth, I supplemented my spiritual diet with Christian radio. There I heard James Montgomery Boice and Alistair Begg. This preaching fed me for some years. It was the meat of the Gospel that I longed for. I began studying election and other tenets of the Reformed faith. It was a gradual awakening. I considered myself ‘saved’ as a child, but who can actually tell when they’ve been quickened by the Holy Spirit? I was learning about the sovereignty of God and realized that He himself had plucked me out of places I shouldn’t have been. No one forced me. He compelled me. Meanwhile, my husband sounded more and more like the world. He no longer had an interest in attending any church. When he left me, I discovered an ongoing infidelity of ten years. Was God now allowing me to be released from this marriage? I gave my husband time, told him I was willing to forgive him, and filed for a legal separation for financial protection. He never repented, decided he wanted a divorce, and never came back. Continue reading →