It feels like not so long ago I was sitting in a conference room with a group of my closest friends, family, and pastors. They surrounded me as I sat across from them as an emotional wreck. Earlier that afternoon I had just received divorce papers from my ex-wife and couldn’t begin to understand what had happened. Needless to say, I had a million thoughts racing through my mind about what to do, what to say, how to respond, and where to even go from here.
I felt defeated and completely at a loss. I never thought this would happen to me. I had walked with many men who had previously been faced with divorce – some of whom ended up getting divorced and others who were able to salvage and heal their marriages. Every time I walked away from those meetings and conversations, I would always say a little selfish prayer: “God, I hope this never happens to me because I don’t know if I could handle it as well as they have.”
And you would think for someone who had walked with others through this journey that you’d be prepared. But truthfully nothing ever prepares you for something until you’re in the middle of it. That’s somewhat of an irony really. Still though to this day I often wonder if there was ever a way to have avoided all of this or if it was inevitable. No matter how many times I have played the script in my mind and gone through the highlight reel of what was, it doesn’t change what currently is and this is where I have witnessed God move extraordinarily in my life.
GRACE FOR THE UNEXPECTED
It astounds me at the strength that God has given to our family to make it through it all. Paul wasn’t joking when he said, “My [God’s] grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Even in the deepest, hardest parts of losing everything I felt like I had gained even more than I previously had.
One of my favorite passages is found in Romans 8 that reads, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (v. 28). What that verse doesn’t say is that God will make all bad things good. Losing my marriage to divorce was a horrible thing. In no way was that or could it ever be considered good. But in spite of that God has brought good things out of it.
HINDSIGHT IS 20/20
Most of the good that we will do can often come from unexpected places. When you suffer a catastrophic blow to your life you change because there is not an inch of you that is left unscathed. So, you start to see people and the world around you much differently than before. Some will use these life-changing experiences as a greater motivation to do good for others, while others will choose to use their pain as a prescription pad to justify how they feel and recklessly act.
What you decide to do with these experiences will be the difference in your ability to move from here (where you’re at) to there (where you want to be). After my divorce, I went through a hard season where I pushed everyone and everything away. I wasn’t alone throughout that though. God was gradually working on my heart. I had allowed pain to crystalize how I felt and had chosen to respond with reckless behavior for several months. Overtime, through relentless friends and graciously patient leaders, my heart began to soften. I began to change as I showed myself ready and God generously began to show me areas of good that he was bringing out of the situation.
BEATEN: BUT NOT DONE
It’s pretty easy to feel beaten when life throws us a gut check, but that doesn’t mean you give up. In fact, it means just the opposite. It means that it is time to go down the warpath, to dig even deeper, and fight even harder.
My grandfather was a part of special operations in the military and he always had this little saying that “When you’re confronted you have two choices: run away or you turn and face.”
Most of us spend our time running away from rather than running towards what has us beaten down, and often cowering in front of it.
So, let me ask you this: what has beaten you down? What’s the biggest problem that you’re facing right now?
- Is it problems at home with your family?
- Maybe it’s the fact that you’re piling on debt and trying to keep up with that fake lifestyle you can’t afford?
- Is there a secret that you’re trying to hide that you just refuse to own up to?
- Maybe it’s the reckless decisions that you keep making which are running your opportunistic life into the ground?
- Or is it that you’re just uncommitted? You just can’t keep your word, show up on time, or stick with it even if everything relied on it.
GET UP AND CRUSH IT
I can’t imagine what your battle is right now, but now is not the time to lay there and quit. It’s time to get up and crush it. You need be real with where you’re at and plan simply what your next move is. Is it having a conversation, owning what you’ve done, revealing that secret, mending that relationship, or just asking for help in coordinating that next move.
Whatever it is, you need to make a commitment, step up your game, and get after it. Because time is wasting and your indecision is still a decision.
Look, I get it. It doesn’t look good where you’re at. Joseph thought the same thing throughout his life, especially in the middle of his hardships. Maybe you can imagine what it was like to be betrayed by your family, lied to by an employer, or wrongfully accused or imprisoned by someone you trusted. But your devastation doesn’t have to be wasted, and like Joseph who endured many unjustly circumstances, you too will one day understand that God has sent you to this place. Even if that is unimaginable in this moment. But for now, you have choices to make. You can either use your pain as a tool to restore your life and reach others or allow it to waste you away (Genesis 45:5, 7-8).