About three years ago, some of our dearest friends found themselves in the middle of a divorce. It was awful. It was terrible. It was hard.

    Divorce always is, isn’t it? It’s never the easier thing, even when we think for a minute that it might be. It leaves people, families, and homes in a million broken pieces.

    The good news is that God is in the business of broken pieces.

    He takes all the pieces of our lives, every tiny minuscule piece, some that only He knows about, that He can find in our deep places, and brings them into His hands. He cares about every single piece. He cares about the heart, the mind, the body, and the soul. He takes what He wove together once at creation and weaves all our brokenness into wholeness again through the person and work of Christ Jesus. Sometimes I imagine Him placing us back onto the potter’s wheel, somehow making hard jagged edges and chunks, pliable and soft, lovingly molded again, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Our Lord, the Potter, stands back and looks at His new creation. He looks at us, once broken through our own sin, and sees us held together by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and His tender mercies. He calls our lives beautiful, complete, and good, even though He knows the pain, He knows the darkness we have sat in.

    The problem is that we are not God and we do not see the whole picture. We do not see complete, through Jesus-colored lenses. We still see broken and so often we like to think that we are exempt.

    As Christians, we like to think that we are better than all that. We should get a pass of being continuously affected by our brokenness and that of the world around us. Once redeemed by the blood of Christ becomes “good to go!” jolly and happy. But we will always live in a broken world, which means Satan will want his hands in our marriages and in our lives. While he does not win the victory, he does try to charge forward and get as much of the battleground as he can. We will see and feel destruction around us, and yes, in our own lives.

    We are not exempt from sin, from failure, from loss, from grief, from what feels like absolute destruction.

    We are not less broken than them.

    Our marriages daily stand by the power of the Spirit and on the truth of His Word. They do not stand on our own competence. They stand on the mercy of His grace, the knowledge of our propensity to sin, and the everlasting forgiveness we ourselves have received, moving back and forth between two people.

    Marriage struggle will befall us. Divorce may even come to our door. We fight the good fight against Satan and his lies by remembering our brokenness together, reminding each other of it, and reminding one another of His ability to heal, to redeem, and to restore.

    Divorce is a sin. It requires confession and forgiveness. We should fight for our marriages at all costs because divorce always hurts. Only Christ’s forgiveness heals. We can point one another to His truth, rather than our own comfort, but with love and awareness of our own sinfulness before God. We are only saved and healed in the arms of Christ Jesus.

    May every couple we reach out to know that we also are broken. We also are in need of His Word, His work, and His intercession. May we remind our spouse that we are broken, we are sinful, we are a work in progress.

    We stand before God in every marriage, every day, and pray,

    When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
    The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

    Psalm 34:17-18

    “Lord, we are broken. You restore. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

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      2 Responses

      1. Krysta

        Heidi,

        I stumbled across this post through Facebook, although (I somehow feel I should say) I am not LCMS or, indeed, Lutheran at all. I am a divorced woman and I must first be honest in saying that I find it difficult to hear happily-married, never-divorced people give counsel on the reality of divorce. It feels to me like a woman who has never been a mother, telling a current mother that she’s raising her child the wrong way. It’s just unfair. At any rate…

        I am struck by two statements you make here. The first is that divorce is “never the easier thing”. On the contrary, divorce is often not only the easier thing, but the BETTER thing – for one’s spiritual, mental, emotional, and sometimes physical well-being. I shudder to think that someone might think that it would have been easier for me to remain in a relationship that was stifling, degrading, hurtful – and to remain with someone who had no interest in making things better. Yes, divorce is painful. Excruciatingly so. But divorce – separation from damaging circumstances – allows for space where brokenness can be healed. Staying in the marriage allows the brokenness, hurt, damage to continue indefinitely.

        The second statement that struck me is “Divorce is a sin.” You and I are starting from two very different belief systems, and I’m sure there is something in the Bible that says this (explicitly or implicitly). I’m not a Bible study-er. But when I read that sentence, the implication seems to be that I made a mistake in seeking divorce; that I did the wrong thing. I reject this with my entire being. I believe now, and will until my dying day, that I did the absolute RIGHT thing in divorcing my husband. My life is more joyful, fulfilling, and downright wonderful since we divorced. That, in and of itself, is proof enough to me that I made a GOOD and RIGHT decision. I cannot understand the idea that the better decision would have been to stay in a marriage that was slowly eating away at my soul, my spirit.

        Heidi, I’m genuinely interested in your response. I’m not interested in an argument, and hope nothing I’ve said comes across as confrontational.

        1. Hi Krysta,
          Thank you for the thoughtful comments. I appreciate your tone and care with the conversation. This is a tough topic, especially to try to wrap our heads around online. Things like this always seem best discussed over coffee with a pastor or spiritually mature friend, whom we can open the Scriptures with together, right there.

          I just wanted to note that I wrote this article for Christians who were not divorced in particular. The message is really to those who think they may be better than divorced Christians, or that they will never find themselves in deep and difficult marriage struggle. It’s an important message to me that every single one of us is capable of anything befalling us and any sin committed. Often, I think we fall into the trap of judging other people’s decisions and lives and saying, “I would never do that…” and it’s not helpful, it’s hurtful, and hurts ourselves as well. That said, I don’t think you have to be divorced to talk about divorce. We are all touched by it. I come from a very blended family with a lot of divorce history that seems to well up when I least expect it. Divorce affects more than just one couple. I would never say, “I understand.” because I haven’t walked that road, you are correct on that. But I do think I have some wisdom to share on the impacts, as a family member and a therapist.

          To the “easy” argument… I still stand that it isn’t easier. Divorce may be better in some situations, agreed. But easier it is not. Emotionally, mentally, and even physically it is a hard road. My heart aches as I have watched family and friends try to struggle through the aftermath. It is important that we can support and love them, show them Christ’s love and care through it, because easy it is not. This comes down for me to Genesis 2:25 – in marriage we are meant to be naked and unashamed. Divorce rips the safety of that from our hearts and souls. It is a deep spiritual battleground. I don’t fully understand it yet (maybe I won’t ever, but I’ll keep studying!) and look forward to God telling me more on this in heaven. He heals, of course He heals torn marriages and gives us big grace and new lives even sometimes, but the tearing of the Naked and Unashamed is not easy.

          On the sin issue… ah, this is such a difficult question to ponder. I have wrestled with this since my college studies. I believe two things might help. First, we as a culture are always looking at the exceptions to this comment that divorce is a sin. That makes me wonder way. Way do we want the loophole so desperately. Because we want to know that God is fair, He is just, and He is gracious. But we don’t need a logical argument and exception to tell us that. A wise pastor (forced into a divorce himself that he did not ask for or want) recently told me – “There are no loopholes in God’s Law. There are no loopholes in God’s Love.” We can’t bend the law to get to the grace. The grace is so much better! So if any confession we offer is only surrounded in His grace, why wouldn’t we run to it? We find rest in His grace, not the loophole in the law.

          It’s helpful to understand a broader definition of sin that needs to be confessed to free us as well. We confess things we know and things we don’t know. We confess sin in us and around us. We confess sin fully and surely of our own volition and actions, and we confess iniquities put on us by other people. God washes and cleans and it’s just to our benefit to speak words and confess them in our hearts. He releases us from the weight of the burden that the devil will try to push on us when we bring all of it before him and receive His precious absolution and mercy. As a therapist, I think that dark things spoken give the devil less power over our lives, so when I bring it to God and say, “I don’t know here…but I bring all of it to you, knowing that I am a sinner, period, always, because I am, wash me clean in this situation in particular, and for every thing, always.” He does and the light comes in and there is a healing and wellness that is very powerful.

          Last, it’s going to sound like I’m selling something for this publisher, but I would HIGHLY recommend Donna Pyle’s book, Without This Ring. Not because Concordia sells it, but because it is one of the best resources on divorce I have ever seen. She includes her story of divorce, along with the stories of several others, a counselor’s perspective, all with a solid foundation in the Word of God. It is tender and grace-filled, very real, and healing. I usually leave talking about divorce to her most of the time because she’s excellent in this area.

          I’m praying this makes sense, everything I just typed. 😉 God’s peace to you. He is mightily at work in this topic and teaching each of us every day.
          In Christ, Heidi

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