An observation – totally at the risk of sounding “super spiritual”
Folks rarely come to a pastoral counseling session to tell me how wonderful life is and how gracious and kind people are. Session times are more about hurts inflicted, pain endured and loss experienced. And truth be known, the individuals sitting across the table from me generally want to do “whatever it takes” to make things work out – the way they want things to work out.
Recently I spoke with a man whose marriage is progressing toward final dissolution. While I personally believe that God is able to heal and restore any relationship where both people are sold out to Him, in a situation like this that involves two individuals, it is sadly a classic case of “too little, too late.”
When the circumstances are apparently beyond repair, the counseling question then becomes “who will you be and how will you live right now and in the days ahead.” When this man challenged me with how I thought he should walk in the midst of such demeaning accusations and rejection, I shared from 1 Peter 2:23 about how Jesus, in the face of just such things, did not retaliate or threaten but instead “entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
The man found no comfort in this. In fact, he actually challenged it by saying that Jesus could endure all this loss and entrust because He knew what He was experiencing had an ultimate goal – the salvation of the world. To get to the other end of the scale, he quickly went on to cite the story of King David, who, for all his horrific decisions (adultery with Bathsheba, the murder of Uriah), did not “lose it all” on the basis of his actions. Then he just looked at me and said, “I could do this if my devastating loss had any purpose at all – but it doesn’t.”
I looked him in the eyes and quoted Romans 8:29: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…”
He struggled with my words. And let’s be real – I struggle with those words. But they are not a surprise nor are they inconsistent with other New Testament verses. Jesus Himself told us we would be required to take up our crosses daily – that’s a daily loss that has no apparent, immediate gain. James 1: 2-4 instructs us to embrace such trials and loss as a pathway to becoming mature and complete, lacking nothing – being conformed to the likeness of Christ.
I personally do not believe God caused or initiated this pending divorce. He hates divorce. But barring a miracle, it is going to occur, along with all the pain and loss that accompanies such decisions – and others like it. However, here is my observation – and yes, I know it likely sound unrealistic and “super spiritual” but:
Until I am willing to totally surrender all I have and all I am to the ultimate goal of being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ, the events of my life will remain confusing, irritating, even embittering. Purpose and peace is only found in entrusting myself to the one who continues the good work He began and judges justly.
Not there, yet. In fact, not really too close. So you pray for me and I’ll pray for you.