I’m not sure I know my God very well. Not very well at all.
About two years ago, my lifelong BFF, Janette, and I were on a walk-and-talk together. I was in the middle of answering her question of ‘How are you doing?’
With her, that is never a short answer. It means ‘Spill the beans. All of them. The big beans. The little beans. The emotional beans. The walk-with-Jesus beans. The marriage beans. The family beans. The depression beans.’
Lots of beans.
I don’t remember exactly what struggle I was sharing with her that day but whatever it was, it led her to say to me, “I don’t think you think God likes you.”
I don’t think you think God LIKES you.
I have not forgotten that sentence since that day.
I think I even paused in my walking the very minute she said it. I had to process it and realize that she was very, very, very right. I am someone who struggles with guilt and shame and not feeling good enough.
Whether it was taught to me or the way that I interpreted the messages in Sunday School class, I have grown up believing that God doesn’t like me and that I need to work overtime to kiss His butt in order to be on His good side.
Now let’s go to last week.
I have no idea why I read what I read, but I read it and it grabbed my attention. First, let me tell you the two things that I read and why they caught me off guard, and then I will show you the bigger picture.
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house.
They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.” Job 42: 10-11
Do you see the first part?
God restored Job’s fortunes…He actually gave him TWICE as much as before. Yes, this is amazing but it is the next part that caught me off guard.
Though the Lord had restored his fortunes and given him twice as much as before, Job’s brothers, sisters and everyone else, came to comfort and console him over the previous trouble.
THIS IS BEAUTIFUL to me.
Everyone’s situation is different but let me tell you my perspective.
I am in my second marriage. I now have quadruple the kids I had before and a millionjuple times the happiness. Nothing can take away from that.
But I still mourn at times. I am still sad at times and need to be comforted. Do you know why?
Because I have lost.
I lost my first marriage and my first husband. I lost what a whole and complete family should/could have been. I lost trust and have been damaged.
Yes, I have moved on and grown and changed and life is very different now, but that doesn’t mean those old hurts don’t resurface. Simply in the heartache of trying to blend a family sometimes, the old wounds resurface.
Even for Ted, who has his kids 50% of the time…God never wanted that to be the case. And on day 3 or 4 of Ted’s kids being away from him, sometimes he gets emotional because he misses them.
He mourns that his life is now the life of not having his kids with him everyday.
God never intended this – for there to be a need to blend families. He wanted whole and complete families that stay together.
Thank goodness He is in the business of grace and redeeming broken things.
But broken things mean that there are cracks and cracks leak and cause hurt.
What I hear in this passage from Job is that it is ok to be blessed twice as much as before and still mourn what WAS lost. No one denies that Job lost a lot.
And I think it is beautiful that it was ok for him to still mourn his losses at times and need comforting.
What a beautiful and compassionate God who didn’t edit that from the Bible so that we could see that it is ok. It is ok to be sad about the past at times.
Here is the second thing I read. (Completely unrelated to the first!)
“Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ ‘
What did Moses command you?’ he replied.
They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’
‘It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,’ Jesus replied. ‘But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.
He answered, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.’” Mark 10:2-12
I’ve been slowly reading through the book of Mark and this was one of my readings last week. When I knew it was the ‘divorce’ section, I braced myself for the judgement.
Being a divorced person, I knew this was a tough passage to read. However, I saw it in a way I have never, ever seen it before in my life, ever.
Growing up, I perceived divorce to be the unforgivable sin. Just a terrible thing to do. Avoid it at all costs. And let me say this, I completely believe God doesn’t want divorce. I think divorce brings hurt upon us that He never wanted us to carry.
But unfortunately, we are imperfect people in an imperfect world and so marriages can also bring hurt upon us that He never wanted us to carry either.
Back to this passage. I saw something here that I’d never seen before.
Anyone who divorces and remarries commits adultery. There you go. That’s it. Do you see what I see?
Does it say, “those who divorce are no longer loved by God”?
Or “those who divorce will never be forgiven”?
Or does He say, “I will never die for divorce or for those who get divorced. All sins will be nailed on my shoulders but not divorce. I can’t die for those people.”
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:25 .
Thanks be to God who said divorce isn’t too big for Him. Thanks be to God who said,
“I will die for the marriages
drowning in hurt
and for the divorces
that come from that.
And I will rise again.
I will rise again
to give hope
to those who can’t save their marriage.
I will rise and give hope
to those who have a divorce certificate
in their possession.
And I will rise and give hope
to those who try again.”
I’m tearing up as I write this.
It reminds me of Genesis and the Garden of Eden. God had told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
However, by chapter 3, the serpent put doubt in Eve’s mind and she twisted those words and said, “…but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
My God never said that. My God never said she couldn’t touch it. Just not eat it.
My God never said that if we got divorced that we were out of grace’s reach.
Somewhere between my birth and today, the serpent put doubt in my mind and I twisted God’s words. In fact, I twisted them so much that I wrung grace right out of them.
But my God never took grace from me.
My God never took forgiveness away from me.
My God never said my life was hopeless and un-resurrectable.
My God never said the cross couldn’t cover my needs.
The voice that told me divorce was the unforgivable sin was never my God’s.
The voice that told me I needed to read the ‘divorce verses’ quickly, or not at all, was not my God’s.
The voice that told me to feel guilty and ashamed until I’m in the grave, was NOT my God’s.
What about you? Who’s voice are you listening to? Where did the serpent plant a seed of doubt in your mind? Where have you twisted grace out of God’s words?
If there is even an ounce in you that says you are not loved, not liked, not forgiven, not worthy, then join me in finding out what God REALLY says about us – not the world around us or the serpent that’s been whispering in our ear…maybe for years.
I will spend my days relearning my God’s voice in all fields and areas of my life.
My God will never use the words ‘unforgivable’ when it comes to my shortcomings.
My God will never say “I can’t reach you. You are too far.”
My God will never, ever say ‘My cross can’t cover that.’