(Recommended reading Psalm 38 – Quoted scriptures below are from the NLT)
“We never feel so alone as when we’re hurting. Broken hearts are usually lonely hearts, and they rarely bask in the presence of God.” Chris Tiegreen
When I read my daily devotional this morning, the above statement really jumped out at me. The reality of it brought back the memories of when I was going through my divorce so many years ago. Although I am the one that filed for the divorce, all the pain I had gone through for so many years over my husband’s infidelities left me confused, broken, hurting and yes – very lonely.
For most of our marriage we had been regular church-goers, involved in working with the youth, family ministries, etc. (Our intimate marital issues kept securely hidden away.) So it stood to reason that even through the pain of divorce I was going to stay in church. But my determination to do so was short-lived.
I would go to church alone, feeling hurt and humiliated, trying to tuck myself into the midst of people I did not know. However, I would almost always end up behind a couple – he with his arm around his wife, sometimes leaning over to whisper in her ear, maybe even giving her a little kiss on her cheek. That happy scene would be like a stab in my heart. When church dismissed, I would race to my car, holding back tears, get home as quickly as possible, then I would allow the tears to fall – a time or two just sitting in the middle of my living room floor weeping until there were no more tears. I definitely was not basking in the presence of God. Consequently I soon let that pain keep me from church completely. Because I was resisting the presence of God, I was not getting any relief.
It was not too long after I threw in the church towel that the anger rose to the surface of my being. You see, at one point I had truly sensed God telling me that my husband and I were going to have a ministry together, working with couples dealing with infidelity. So of course, that would require my husband to stop his behavior and we would have to work through the trust issues, the pain issues and allow forgiveness to flood into our beings. As that memory weighed on me I started expressing my frustration and anger at God – I could not understand why He had not dealt with my husband to stop the cheating. Then the isolation from God got more serious – I shut myself off from Him and church completely.
I was not only dealing with the hurt and anger but I was dealing with shame. I felt the shame so deeply it was as though I had a big “L” – for LOSER – on my forehead for the entire world to see. I just knew that everyone I encountered recognized that I was going through a divorce and therefore must be a loser. Irrational you say? Yes, yes it was – but it was very real to me nonetheless; and, I discovered in the divorce recovery group that I went to, I was not alone feeling that way. Satan will put all kinds of irrational thoughts in our heads to try to drive us away from God and other people – something we should never allow ourselves to forget.
“Isolating ourselves from the One who cares, perhaps because we’re convinced He doesn’t, is actually a refusal to accept the comfort He offers.” Chris Tiegreen
After two or three years of dealing with all those negative thoughts and emotions, I started feeling God’s draw on my heart again. Soon I was able to get back into church without the discomfort and pain. After all, God is merciful and is our comforter – “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) He is the one we should be trusting and leaning on through all life can throw at us. We need to trust Him and stay strong in our faith.
In Psalm 38 it is easy to recognize that David is in great physical and emotional pain. In verse 8 he says: “I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart.” That verse pretty well describes how I was feeling at times, as drastic and dramatic as it may seem. But then in verses 21-22 David calls to God in faith saying: “Do not abandon me, O Lord. Do not stand at a distance, my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.”
I want to add here that if you ever go through a divorce, you need to find a faith-based divorce recovery group. I am a strong believer in that, because when I found such a group to attend, along with a few private sessions with a professional counselor, the lifeline I needed was there. To talk with others that are feeling all of the same things, thinking the same thoughts was such a relief. Maybe as they say, misery really does love company, but I felt the weight of the world lifting off my shoulders and did not feel so alone. Also, to get reassurances from the counselor helped rebuild my self-worth. I rediscovered the real me that had been lost in all the unhappiness and years of grief. My joy and confidence began to show up and I believe I became an even better version of myself in the end.
So if for any reason you find yourself in the Lonely Hearts Club, stay strong and try to remember this: “Regret looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up.” John Mason
Ironically, probably about 40-45 years ago – God told me that those two verses I quoted above from 2 Corinthians 1 were a description of the ministry I would have in my life. I do know that at different time’s people have reached out to me going through infidelity as well as other hurtful issues in their lives and I have had words of encouragement for them. At times I would wonder where my words of advice and encouragement even came from but realized they were God-given. I do not know whether or not anyone has been helped through any of the words I share here weekly in these blogs, but hopefully they have or will. Good can result from bad.
Written by Karran Martin – October 4, 2019