Can anything good come from divorce? In my experience, the answer is no, not directly. Even when there is adultery, abuse, or abandonment, and there might really be no other recourse, divorce still brings damage and pain, especially to children involved. But also in my experience, in the processes of divorce and recovery, God’s Spirit can change you, if you let Him. What is good about divorce? Not one thing. God, however, is the God of restoration and renewal. I discovered this first hand. In the most destructive season of my life, God reached down to lift me up. But I had to let Him do it.
The rubble of the World Trade Center still smoldered when I suffered a blow every bit as devastating to me personally as the destruction of 9-11. With almost no warning, my wife of seven years told me she wanted a divorce. Blindsided, the demand staggered me. It got instantly worse: not only did she want out of the marriage; she did not want to be a mother anymore either. A short time later, she left me and our two very young children, a boy just turned three and an infant girl.
Poorly equipped to cope with the hurt and anger I felt, I sank quickly into survival mode. I had first become a Christian as a child, but around the age of nineteen I had turned my back on God. Now, in my early thirties, I was in a far off country spiritually. Every area of my life deteriorated in the following months—my career, my friendships, my health. I felt almost completely alone and entirely overwhelmed.
It was then that I began to realize there was only one way for me to turn: like the prodigal son, it gradually dawned on me that I needed to return to Christ.
Only in hindsight can I see the rescue plans God had set for me. Like a child stuck up in a tree, I was too scared to let go of the tree and grab on to Daddy. I knew almost everything about me needed to change; but I would need to let God change me. So like a daddy rescuing his child out of a tree, God had to pry my fingers from the branches, and move my hands, one at a time, to take hold of Him. In the event, the first handhold was accepting a neighbor’s invitation to church (actually, I asked her to invite me…she did).
Those traumatized by the process of divorce or in the recovery that follows usually feels injured, angry, and stubbornly resistant. That was me, anyway. I wasn't going to change easily--God did the heavy lifting. Over the months, each step along the way, my part was just to agree with Him.
Come, follow Me. “Okay, I will.”
Believe in God, and believe also in Me. “Yes Lord, I believe in You.”
Forgive as I have forgiven you. “That will be hard, but I’ll try.”
And a key part for me, the man whose wife had left him and the father whose children had been abandoned, was being the victim. But I had to confess my part to God: If you confess your sins, I am faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness. “You’re right, Father; my sin helped destroy the marriage. Forgive me and turn me to You.” I had to lay down the status of victim, acknowledge my own sin, and embrace God’s grace.
In His grace, God made my life new. If you are going through a divorce, or are you in recovery, in the middle of all that devastation, God can change you if you let Him. He will set lifelines for you to take hold of, through the Scriptures, and through His people, whom you will know by their love (John 13:34-35). Nothing good comes from divorce. That is true. But from the ashes of destruction God can make you new.