Hurt and Hope
by Pr. Dave Mann
For many who have walked through divorce, the very word “divorce” brings back memories of pain, angst, sorry, guilt, and severe loss – a pain that took years of anxiety to come to a conclusion – and that conclusion is one that has not come to an end, not really. I have not walked that path myself; I’ve only walked with others and felt their sorrow.
There are two ways to responded lovingly and caringly to a friend who is feeling that agony:
To come alongside and give a listening ear with the intent to sooth the pain and to point to forgiveness and a new obedience.
To articulate a disdain for divorce and why God’s will is against it, and to invest in the relationship to preserve the marriage; to seek to stem the tidal wave of divorce coming across our culture.
The waters in which our culture swims have a current in which marital vows are taken incredibly lightly. This is nothing new. The same was true in the first century. See the reaction of the disciples (v. 10) to Jesus’ teaching: "It is better not to marry!"
Jesus’ words about marriage are breathtaking. After Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24 -- "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" -- he adds his own commentary: "Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate." Though weddings are the result of hundreds of hours of human planning with many people decked out in their finest, Jesus claims that divine action has done the essential unifying part.
Why is marriage so important? The Apostle Paul states that it is the representation of Christ and his church keeping covenant with each other (Ephesians 5: 32). Despite our human failings, we manage to distort something that God intended as a gift to us.
But note that this passage begins and ends with God’s grace. In verse two, Jesus heals many sick people, and in verses 13-14, Jesus blesses the children. Divorce is not the unforgiveable sin, but it is not God’s plan A for us. Our God is a redeemer, who takes the mess we make of our lives in so many different ways and rearranges, reorganizes, reconstitutes our hurt to become something beautiful again.
Lord God, we confess once again that we have bent something beautiful that you have given us. We lean on you to forgive and to restore us. You are our only hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen.