By Betsy St. Amant Haddox, Crosswalk.com
In 2012, my husband of eight years started wondering if he should leave me. His internal discontent, unprocessed trauma from tragically losing his mother, and declining spiritual life spiraled faster and faster until he came to a crossroads. He agreed to go on a Christian men’s retreat and said, “if God doesn’t change me while I’m there, then I’m going to have to change something when I get back.”
I knew what that meant. So I fasted and prayed. More than a dozen caring people came to my parent’s home for intercessory prayer. I just knew God was going to heal my husband at this retreat in California, comfort him from his loss, revive him spiritually, and renew his love and commitment to me. Everyone was certain it would play out that way. After all, God isn’t for divorce! Surely He would intervene and change my husband’s heart. This was just the dark, dramatic moment before the Happily Ever After. The uncomfortable night before the redemption. The brokenness before the restoration! We were going to have a testimony of God’s glory!
Five days later, I picked him up from the airport and he left me that same night.
It was only a few days before Valentines.
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Where Is God in a Broken Marriage? He Is Near
I can speak from experience that He is right there in the center of it all, holding your battered heart in His nail-scarred hands. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
When my husband started packing a suitcase and my knees hit the kitchen floor, unable to breathe anything except the name of Jesus, He was there. Breathing for me.
When I spent what would have been my ten-year anniversary alone as a single mom, God was there. Telling me I was loved.
When I laid my husband’s clothes out on the bed and prayed Ezekiel 37 over them, begging dry bones to live, God was there. Reminding me He was sovereign.
When I couldn’t go to work one day at my part-time job because I couldn’t stop crying, God was there—in the gentle voice of my understanding boss, in the hugs of my co-workers, and in the encouraging letters mailed by friends.
When I made bad rebound dating choice after dating choice in my pain, God was there. Assuring me I would turn back (Luke 22:30-32).
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Where Is God in a Broken Marriage? He Is Doing a Strengthening Work
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). While dealing with the aftermath of separation, I wanted God to be doing a work in my husband’s heart. I wanted Him to fix it. I wanted Him to give me my “normal” back. But instead, He did a work in my heart. He showed me my need for Christ. I’d been a Christian since I was a young girl, but I had never needed the Lord like I did in that hour. It was a breaking down and a strengthening of my faith like never before.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
I wouldn’t have chosen to walk that path for myself, but I also would never sacrifice what I gained from that loss.
Where Is God in a Broken Marriage? He’s Reminding You of Eternal Glory
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
When you are struggling in your marriage, you tend to not really care about eternal things, because your present reality is so incredibly out of control and painful. But God is there, reminding you of what really matters. Don’t get me wrong—it’s not that your marriage doesn’t matter. Of course it does! Marriage is an earthly reflection of Christ and the church. But at the end of the day, we won’t be married in Heaven. We’ll be Christ’s bride, and that’s one marriage relationship guaranteed to never fail. When we shift our eyes off our current struggles and onto the eternal hope of glory, we will never be shaken or moved.
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Where Is God in a Broken Marriage? He Is Giving You Hope
When I was going through my separation, I wanted my friends and family to prophetically tell me everything was going to be ok. I wanted someone to assure me that I would have my marriage restored (and be careful – there’s plenty of scams out there on the internet offering just such false assurance). After we were divorced and I knew that wasn’t going to happen, I then wanted everyone to assure me I would get married again. I wanted comfort and hope.
God was indeed giving me hope, but it wasn’t in the way I anticipated. I would see the word “hope” or read it in Scripture and automatically assume it meant “hope that I would get what I wanted.” But that wasn’t what God meant. My hope was ultimately to be found in Christ. He alone was sufficient, regardless of how it all played out. I had to get to a place where I truly believed that and then my hope was secure.
I didn’t know how my story would end up, and you don’t either. That can be scary. I remember. But what I do know is that along the way, we’re given sufficient grace for each moment. Every argument. Every slammed door. Every threat of abandonment. Every lawyer’s office, billed invoice, court date, custody battle, and shed tear—there is grace. And that grace is enough because He is enough.
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Where Is God in a Broken Marriage? He’s Comforting You
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
There’s a lot to be afraid of when you find yourself in a broken marriage. Financial fears. Custody fears. Emotional fears.
I remember during those first few weeks after he left, I would tuck my four-year-old daughter in at night, then lay in my bed literally chanting“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3). Then when I woke up and reality taunted me, I would chant it again. It was one of my only true consolations and the reason I didn’t struggle with insomnia.
Truly, our God is a God of comfort. “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul” (Psalm 94:19). Turn to Him.
Maybe your marriage isn’t ending. Maybe separation isn’t your reality, but you still are experiencing a separation of intimacy and love from your spouse. Maybe you’re all too familiar with emotional distance and feeling lonely, despite the other side of the bed still being occupied. God is there too, dear friend. And you know what? It’s not too late. Keep praying. Keep fasting. Keep returning to the Lord with your mess. He’s there. He loves. He cares. And He will hold you up.
I received that testimony I wanted for God’s glory, but it didn’t come through my marriage being put back together. Rather, it came through the work He did in my heart. It came through several years of sin, repentance, struggle, and victory against all odds—victory despite myself. It came through remarriage to a single dad who knew a similar heartache. And it continues to come through opportunities to share my story and give God the praise for all He’s done.
“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:3)
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