By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
The title seems like an oxymoron. After all, Scripture makes it clear that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). How can God take something so gut-wrenching and wounding as divorce and bring about redemption?
Or, in a similar manner, separation can tear entire families apart long before a divorce ever takes place. Christians may wonder where God is during difficult situations like this.
This article will dive into how God can work through difficult situations like separation and divorce, how he redeemed wounding situations in the Bible, and what this means for us today.
Can God Really Heal All Wounds?
Divorce leaves behind a wound that essentially creates a new normal. So can God truly heal wounds left behind, even in a divorce?
Some of the following Scriptures assure us about the powerfulness of God’s ability to heal every wound, even those left behind after decades of hurt:
- God gives us strength and upholds us with his righteous hand (Isaiah 41:10).
- God bears our suffering. If anyone understands how we feel, it’s him. We can go to him with every hurt (Isaiah 53).
- God binds up our wounds (Psalm 147:3) and heals our broken hearts. Divorce leaves both in its wake. But there’s no power on earth strong enough to prevent God from working.
- God saves us from our distress (Psalms 107:19). Divorce can cause a great deal of anxiety and sense of the unknown, bringing about a major transition in a family’s life. But God gives us a sense of peace and helps us in our most desperate moments.
- In the end, God will wipe every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4) and make every sad thing come untrue. This pain and suffering we endure now will only last a short while.
3 Examples of God Turning Evil into Good
Divorce is not from God. It is a sign of this broken world and our need for a Savior. God hates division, breaking apart families, and the tearing of the bond that makes a husband and wife one (Hebrews 9:15).
But amid that heartache, God still can take something bad (divorce) and redeem it.
Although we don’t encounter many people in the Bible who experienced divorce or separation, we do have several people who had bad circumstances happen to them, and God transformed those to be good.
Known famously for saying the verse, “what you intended for evil, God intended for good” (Genesis 50:20), Joseph embodied the epitome of unfortunate circumstances.
His brothers sold him into slavery after he told them some dreams they didn’t like, and he wound up in prison, forgotten, when his master’s wife lied and said he’d attempted to rape her.
Nevertheless, God didn’t forget Joseph.
He used Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams to help him land in good standing with the Pharaoh, made the second-highest rulers in Egypt (Genesis 41:37-44), and helps save thousands of people from a famine that spread across the land.
If his brothers had not intended an evil situation of selling him into slavery, thousands of people would’ve died decades later.
2. Paul and Silas
When Paul and Silas command a demon out of a slave girl who told prophecies, and her owners could no longer make money off of her, they wrongly have them severely beaten and thrown into prison.
Although they’d endured a great deal of persecution, this had to have been one of the worst bits, including a beating with rods and flogging (Acts 16:16-40).
Even when an earthquake rocks the prison and breaks open the doors, they stay put and prevent the jailer from committing suicide. It was a death penalty back then if any prisoners escaped on a guard’s watch.
The jailer, seeing they haven’t moved, asks how to be saved. He and his whole family accept Christ that night.
If Paul and Silas had not received the mistreatment and imprisonment, a family would not have received salvation that night.
3. The Samaritan Woman
This woman may have been very familiar with divorce (John 4). She’d married 5 different men. Scripture does not tell us if these marriages ended in divorce or death, but either way we know she lived with a man who she hadn’t wed. A social pariah in all aspects of the word, from a Jewish and Samaritan standpoint, Jesus spends time and talks to her about how he has come as the Messiah.
Overjoyed, she spreads news about him all over her town, and many Samaritans believe in Christ because of her (John 4:39-42). If she had not gone through five painful divorces and become an outcast in Samaritan society, she would not have met with Jesus at the well.
We have to note the text mentions she was there (at the well) during the heat of the day, when no one would’ve gone to the well to get water. When Jesus happens to arrive at the same time she does, they have a chat, that changes the lives of the people in her town forever.
How God Has Worked through Divorce in My Life
When my parents divorced a little over a year ago and remarried other spouses this past spring, I didn’t see how God could possibly work a redemptive plan into this story. They’d re-married, in my opinion, far too fast after a twenty-six-year marriage, were a bit enigmatic about whether they divorced biblically, and chose to marry those who were out of state and out of the country.
This meant that I would only see my dad three months out of the year as he lived in Florida with his new wife and my mom was back and forth between England and here with her new husband.
My family had ripped apart at the seams, and I saw no possibility for redemption.
But somewhere between my dad’s remarriage to now, I learned a few lessons that helped me to see God work amid the heartache and disappointment.
First, God gave me more people to love in my life. My stepmom’s family is huge and crazy, and I love every single one of them. One re-marriage alone allowed me to have more people to pray for, love on, and they supported me during triumphs like my book launching in June and massive disappointments.
Second, God blessed me with new Christian family members. I realize not every divorce and remarriage results in more members of the faith being integrated into one’s family. But I see all of the new members as family because we all share a connection in Christ.
Third, God has brought several of us closer to him throughout this process. My stepdad didn’t attend church prior to marrying my mom, and I’ve seen more family members get more involved in the Christian community after these events.
Sometimes God has to put us through something difficult before we can see beauty.
As mentioned in Tessa Emily Hall’s Purple Moon, ““Without the dark, we’d never see the stars. There also would be no use for the moon if there was never a night.”
Fourth, because my family went through divorce, I can come alongside other Christians who experience the same situations. Divorce rates are still very high, even in the Christian community, but many churches don’t like to talk about this topic.
But having gone through it, I can talk about subjects that we’re not eager to discuss and open up a much-needed conversation in the church.
Related Resource: Listen to our FREE podcast, Reframed: The Power of Perspective. In each episode, Carley provides practical techniques for identifying and reframing negative thinking patterns. Listen to an episode below, and check out all of our episodes on LifeAudio.com.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 450 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze,(Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel Den for July 2020. Find out more about her here.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Ahmed Hasan