We were going through a seven year marriage trial. It was the most excruciating trial I have ever been through. I didn’t know people could hurt like that. I didn’t know I could cry like that. I didn’t really know the power of prayer, God’s Word and the Holy Spirit until I experienced a crucible of change and pain.
I remember having the overwhelming feeling that I was done. I fought the fight, prayed the prayers, fasted, read God’s Word, sought counsel, and did all the things you are supposed to do when you face trial and suffering, but on that day I was done.
I went to the basement where I sat and laid on the floor all day. I cried out to God physically and spiritually. I prayed that when I went upstairs my husband would hit me and give me the excuse I needed to leave. If not then maybe he would break some law and go to jail or maybe he just wouldn’t come home at all.
At the end of the day I made my way up those stairs. My husband didn’t hit me. He came home from work. I was empty. I somehow made it to my car and drove to visit my pastor. I am done. I have nothing left in me that can keep going on. This needs to be over.
And then God…
My pastor helped me get through that day and the following weeks. I stayed in the marriage and kept fighting the fight. In time things got better. In time we began to slowly rebuild. There was never that aha moment though. My husband didn’t start attending church, ask me for forgiveness, announce how he was drastically changing his life, or admit to any sin he had committed. We just kept going.
During that time I kept thinking that the trial would kill me. I would wake up expecting God to make some drastic change that would signify He heard my prayer. I longed for my story to look like other stories. Where the husband comes home, expresses his enduring love for you, we hug, and from then on are happy and adore each other. I wanted the story where we all go to church together, pray together, discuss Scripture, and enjoy this new life as a Christian couple. It hasn’t happened.
God did so something though. I couldn’t see it back then. The trial didn’t kill me. Our family had all the material comforts that we needed. We still managed to go to the movies, enjoy birthdays, and have fun on vacation. We had an underlying sadness and exhaustion from what we had been through, but we had what we needed to keep going on.
God grew me in amazing ways during that time. In fact He was preparing me to serve Him in full time ministry. I had no idea that day in the basement what was to come, but I would see later that the trial was needed to prepare me to lead a ministry that had been torn in two. What God was teaching me would help me minister to people in our community. I couldn’t see at the time what God was doing, but looking back now it makes sense.
When we are going through life we often can’t see what God is doing. It looks like He doesn’t care that our prayers aren’t being answered and that He is cruel. I mean why would He want me to hurt that much? How come He didn’t change my husband? Why did He let my children experience the same pain?
A Joseph Type Journey
We are each on our own Joseph type of journey. When I worked with women in the community I used to take them through that story very slowly. I think it’s really important to grasp what Joseph went through. It’s so easy to read through that story too quickly and overlook the pain and suffering that was involved in his life and in his families.
Joseph was thrown into a physical pit by his brothers. Let that sink in. How many times do we get upset because someone made a comment on Facebook that we didn’t like? Joseph was thrown into a pit and if that wasn’t bad enough he was handed over to strangers and taken far from his family against his will. Ask yourself how that compares to the Facebook comment?
God is real, alive and working. It’s not a story. It’s real. He is working in our lives in real ways. One way we can see this is if we journal. We can write our own story. I guarantee when you look back at it you will see that God was answering prayer, working in your life, and providing what you need.
In the basement that day my desire was to leave my marriage and God’s desire was to mold me.
In the basement that day I wanted the pain to stop, but God wanted me to keep going a little longer. In fact I would experience more pain, but in different ways, from different people, and in different situations. I am thankful I didn’t know that, that day.
In the basement that day I surrendered and begged God to deliver me. God did. Just not when I wanted or in the way that I hoped for, but in a better way and at a better time. You see God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. God so loves my unsaved husband that He has done this amazing work in me so that I can show him Christ. God so loves me that He used that time to mold me and prepare me to lead a ministry through change.
The trials in my life continue. I suffer now because of many life transitions. Yet, I know that God is doing a mighty work and is answering every prayer. I know that this is good for me and His glory. I do not despair in the basement, but rejoice in the moment because my heavenly Father is doing a great work. A work I can’t see yet, but can feel in my heart. Praise God for His will is perfect.