Sunday, August 19, 2012
A Divorce in your Church
Spiritual Risks in Divorce
The process of divorce is one that all too often leads to individuals turning away from the church, from their faith, from God. Why? Lots of reasons. Partly because of the devastation and shame that divorce can bring with it. Sometimes because churches aren’t very good at connecting well with individuals going through divorce. And there are other situations in which an individual simply is unable to find good connections in their church after their divorce. If you attend church, I am pretty certain that if you think hard, you can identify church friends you recall who have gone through a divorce and then simply disappeared from your congregation, and maybe from church altogether. What can be done to prevent this? How can a divorcing person protect themselves? What can a church body do to intervene?
Let’s talk to the divorcing/divorced person first. Realize, you are at risk!
I believe there is a satan, and he will do everything possible to use this time to drive you away from God. There will be feelings and thoughts telling you that God doesn’t love you any more, that nobody cares, that you aren’t good enough for church, that you don’t belong or fit in, that if God really loved you then He shouldn’t have let this happen to you…..on and on and on. In addition, satan will also make sure you run into Christians who will tell you that very thing, and add on plenty of extra guilt to make sure you know that if only YOU had followed God’s perfect plan the way THEY have, then you wouldn’t even be divorced anyway! There is one word you need to remember when all these things come your way: HOGWASH!
The truth is, God’s heart is breaking as He sees you….or any other person for that matter…..enduring the tragedies of this world, including divorce. And God’s desire is to help you. But it is up to you to find a way to be faithful to God in this time, to seek to draw closer, to turn to Him for strength, to give God the chance to help you through it!!! Instead of going to church less, go MORE! Instead of letting the overwhelming feelings take away your desire to pray, use them to force you to pray! Instead of letting the new altered time pressures rob you of time with God, make time with God the first priority so that you handle appropriately the new pressures. You have to CHOOSE to hang on to the rock of your salvation, to run to your refuge, who is God.
I don’t want to ramble too long, but I do want to say some things for those of you church folks who are willing to be tools God uses to keep those divorced folks close to God. As a pastor, I have been around way too many struggling marriages, some of which ended in divorce. I have been amazed many times at how often church friends will conclude that partner or the other is the better Christian, and the divorce is the other person’s fault. The reason I have been amazed is that, having spent time with the couples in counseling, all too often church friends draw these conclusions based on outward appearances, and I have often thought….”if you only knew what REALLY had happened inside that home.” So, if you want to help a person divorcing, stay out of it. And be smart enough to not pass judgment on things you really don’t know for sure. Don’t decide who is right and who is wrong. Just let the one you are helping know that you care, that you are still their friend, that you are praying for them (if you really are).
The one other bit of advice I’d offer is this. That divorcing person probably feels pretty awkward, even in church with the closest friends. So it may be up to YOU to let them know they still are important. Don’t neglect the person just because you don’t know what to say. That person needs your friendship now more than ever. Give them a call, take them out to lunch, have them over for a game of Monopoly, send them a card, drop by a pot of soup or plate of cookies….tangibly express your love to them. They may not come play Monopoly, or you may not hear about your card. But your caring can have impact….it is something God can use, give God that opportunity. Just don’t take in your own agenda….that person may need alone time, or to cry, or somebody to sit with at church, or somebody to stay with the kids a few minutes so they can run to the store, or……I don’t know, you are going to have to ask THAT PERSON.
And, by the way, you can also let them know this blog exists, and about the book coming out. I have already seen myself that the blog and book can make a difference for individuals….and part of the purpose IS for you to have a tangible way to help a friend.
My heart grieves over the way satan has used divorce and church folks responses to divorce to drive great Christians away from God. Let’s reverse that trend, okay?
TL:dr it isn’t too long….read it anyway, this one matters