In times of uncertainty, remembering the goodness of God strengthens our resolve and bolsters our faith. Humans are generally forgetful by nature and easily influenced by whatever is in front of our eyes at any given moment. I think that’s why there are so many instances in scripture of God telling us to remember, to call to mind, etc. These recollections are like a shot in our arm of whatever it is we need to face our current situation. There is a verse in Lamentations that reminds us His faithfulness is great and His mercies are new every morning, and I have found this to be true I just often forget to rely on Him to guide me through my days.
It’s hard to imagine more uncertain times than the days we are in currently, so I thought I’d take a deep dive into a memory from my own life, when God showed up in small and big ways. It’s a rather long story, so I’ve broken it into parts. Ready? Here we go.
I was barely 24, but I was empty. Broken. I had youth, but no hope. Potential, but no vision. A desire to love, but utterly disheartened.
My husband had stood in front of me and told me he wanted to be married, just not to me. I was now a divorced woman.
I didn’t know anyone as young as I was, in this position. Certainly, none of my church-attending, college graduated, middle-class friends. I was ashamed. It seemed to prove some dark truth I didn’t want anyone to know – unworthy. And here it was, out in the open for all to see. Divorce is a particularly ugly thing, a breaking, a tearing apart, an absolute rendering of one heart, one life, from another. There is no anesthetic for this kind of emotional surgery, and so the separated partners walk wounded around the battlefield of life, in a daze from the pain, looking endlessly for relief, healing, and any possible reason to keep on walking.
It was hard to continue attending church. I couldn’t go to the newly married class we used to attend, I couldn’t sit in the same pews that I used to sit in with all my married friends, it was too painful to face questions I didn’t have answers for. It was awkward to try to socialize with all the people I used to spend time with. It was like a double punch to the gut. Rejected by my husband AND cut off from friends.
Still, each Sunday morning I would park my car in the far lot and walk with my head down into the sanctuary. I learned to get there early, so I could be seated before any of our friends came in. If I sat close enough to the front, they would be behind me to my right and I wouldn’t have to see any of them directly. I knew they looked my way sometimes, probably curious about what had happened, but not knowing what to say. And they didn’t say anything, not to me at least. It was weird and so painful, the abrupt end to it all. I imagined they spoke to each other in hushed tones, “There she is, sitting with her parents over there,” “Do you know what happened between them? I mean, they seemed like such a nice couple,” “Well, I heard that…”
I wanted to defend myself, to talk to them, but I didn’t know what to say. How do you explain a marriage ending? It’s complicated and involves so much on both sides, and no one enters marriage thinking that it will end, and so it’s always shocking and sad and hard. I knew these things, had thought them myself, but now it was different. Now, it was ME.
I tried hard not to cry during church each Sunday, and sometimes I was successful. My new reality was moving back home with my parents, filling out forms to legally change my name back to my maiden name, and returning to school. I only left home to go to school or church. My life consisted of only the basic necessities now, and it was excruciatingly lonely, yet strangely safe at the same time. Out of necessity, I developed a pattern to my days. I began to focus on finishing my college degree, and I found that my pain helped to rivet my attention to the task at hand. I had my routine; I went through the motions. When I was not working on schoolwork, I poured over my Bible. I had never read consistently in this Book before, although I had a saving faith since I was a young girl.
I began to read past the familiar stories I’d learned as a child, and looked deeply into the life of Jesus and how He related with people when He walked this earth. I looked forward with joy to our ‘meetings’ each evening, as I would pray and then read about Him in the Bible. As I read, I began to feel a reconnection to this God who gave me renewed hope, as I read in Lamentations 3:21-23:
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.“
And I was slowly coming to truly believe that this was a God who loved me, and had given me everything I needed for life, as I read in Peter’s 2nd book: “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness…” 2 Peter 1:3
I had nothing to lose and everything to gain as I eagerly searched for all I could learn about life and how to love from my Savior in the pages of His Word as He revealed himself to me. (To be continued…)