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I Almost Got a Divorce

Written by Agnes Lee, Singapore

When I was younger, I used to think that I could overcome anything as long as my husband loved me. But after getting married, my husband’s poor health, among other things, almost led me to give up on my marriage.

My husband has a history of epilepsy. He experiences seizures about two to three times a year and has been hospitalized on a number of occasions. Because of his poor health, he is only able to handle simple tasks and is unable to get a job with decent pay. So on top of having to care for him physically, I also have to support him financially.

One day at work a few months after we got married, I was informed by my husband’s colleague that my husband had experienced another seizure and was waiting for the ambulance to take him to the hospital.

Although I felt anxious about his condition, I was frustrated at the inconvenience his seizure had caused me. My mind even drifted to the idea of a divorce. Nevertheless, I decided that I would hide my unhappiness. I took urgent time off from work and rushed to the hospital to attend to him.

My frustration with my husband continued to grow as we entered our second year of marriage. Not only was he not providing for our increasing finances, he wasn’t helping out at home or meeting my needs. As his wife, he demanded total submission from me; I was very stressed about not being able to live up to his expectations. And while I wanted him to be involved in housework and caring for the baby, he felt that this was not the role of husbands.

Seeing the financial and emotional burden I had to bear, well-meaning relatives encouraged me to file for a divorce. I seriously contemplated this option. But in the midst of this, my Christian mentor pointed me to Jesus. Her words changed my perspective about marriage and taught me the following three lessons:

 

  1. His Word should transform my perspective of my marriage

Submission to my husband was difficult because I felt that he was never understanding towards me. But one of the key things my mentor reminded me of was that God is the head of my household (Colossians 2:10).

When I shifted my focus from pleasing my husband to pleasing God, I realized that submitting to my husband, was in itself, an act that pleased God (Ephesians 5:22). My mentor also reminded me to press on in marriage because God had brought the both of us together (Mark 10:9) and that divorce did not please God.

Instead, I was instructed to go to God whenever I was weary (Matthew 11:28). Whenever I felt like giving up, I would cry out to God and beg Him to either deliver me from the marriage or to strengthen me. God would always comfort me, reminding me that His grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my human weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

 

  1. Earthly marriage mirrors the ultimate marriage

Although there were moments I felt as though I had made a mistake in marrying my husband, God reminded me that He made no mistake when He allowed this marriage to take place.

In fact, God made earthly marriages to remind us of the upcoming eternal and perfect marriage supper of the Lamb, and to mimic His love for the church (Ephesians 5:21-30) and to be a display of God’s glory. When God designed man and woman to become one flesh in a marriage (Genesis 2:23-24, Matthew 19:4-6, Mark 10:6-9), He wanted to show how Christ and the church are one.

As I began to understand that, I started to see submission to my husband as a form of reverence for God. It became a form of worship to God. That’s when the burden of submitting to my husband became lighter. With the new perspective of how the Church—as the Bride—is to submit to God, I find it easier to submit to my earthly husband.

 

  1. God holds our future

I often feel helpless about my husband’s seizures. I’m always afraid that his condition might cause him to suffer serious permanent injury or even death. When that happens, I would have to raise my child singlehandedly.

After each attack, I would feel listless for a few days, worrying about the future. What if my husband became bedridden one day? What if his medical expenses escalated beyond our means? What if my son had to grow up without his dad by his side? What if I could not cope on my own as a single mum?

Sometimes, I wish I had married a healthy man and not him. But over time, I learned to surrender my fears to Him, allowing God to change me with His Word and for Him to take over our relationship. Through such trials, God has taught me to accept my husband for who he is—in sickness or in health—and trust that He is in charge of our welfare.

Today, we still struggle with the day to day challenges as a family and my husband still suffers from seizures occasionally. In fact, he had another attack again last month. However, the both of us have seen and experienced God’s grace in our marriage and my husband has also seen how God had changed my heart to be more yielding to him. Now, he has become more understanding towards me and no longer demands as much without sparing a thought for my feelings.

The both of us have also learned to appreciate things that are eternal and not to focus on those that are temporal. By the grace of God, my imperfect marriage has drawn us nearer to our perfect God who blesses us with unshakable hope and joy to weather through difficulties.

Brangelina split: The end of Love?

Or so that is what some news reports have been saying, after news emerged yesterday that Hollywood’s golden couple, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, are ending a two-year marriage—after 12 years and six children together.

According to documents obtained by various news agencies, A-lister actress and director Jolie is pulling the plug on her marriage to actor Brad Pitt because of “irreconcilable differences”. Other news media suggest that Jolie’s decision—which her attorney described vaguely as being made “for the health of the family”—could have been triggered by differences in parenting style or Pitt’s anger problems and substance abuse issues.

Jolie has reportedly asked for custody of their six children and visitation rights to be granted to Pitt; she did not ask for spousal support. What about Pitt? Well, reports have noted that he is “very saddened” by the divorce and is most concerned about the “well-being of kids”.

News of their split has sent shockwaves all over the world, with many expressing sadness over the end of Brangelina, as they have been dubbed by the media. But why should they? After all, if we’re being honest, Hollywood marriages and divorces are, well, a dime a dozen.

Perhaps it’s because for once, we believed that Brangelina would be different. Throughout their 12-year relationship, we’ve seen the couple’s commitment to their professional work, humanitarian work, each other, and their children. As one Independent article put it, “Despite being astronomically wealthy and living thousands of miles away from the average Brit, Brangelina’s relationship was perhaps the most aspirational of all – no tantrums, no screaming matches, no huge betrayals, just getting on with life, even with the stresses and strains of illness, operations and six children to boot.” In short, they appeared to be the exemplary Hollywood couple.

That’s probably why many millennials have been reacting to the news of Brangelina’s divorce with the idea that “If they can’t do it, no one can”. And that’s perhaps why many news outlets have chosen to accompany their headlines on the split with lines like “Love is officially dead” and “Love ends today”.

But not everyone agrees. As Mashable’s writer Martha Tesema writes, “Love is far from dead. It’s very much alive, blossoming within the thousands of other high-profile power couples in the world we can look up to in awe.”

Tesema is right on one thing—love is far from dead. The end of Brangelina does not mean that love has ceased to exist. As much as we are in awe of everything they’ve achieved, they’re mere mortals—just like every one of us. They make mistakes. They fight. They break up.

But to take comfort in the fact that love continues to be “alive” because the marriages of other high-profile power couples are still thriving is downright naïve—and, may I add, foolish. If not for anything else, Brangelina’s split should sound the alarm bells in our minds that nobody is immune to broken relationships. Regardless of whether we’re the President of America or Britain’s most well-known footballer, we’re all fallible. By our own strength, we can never guarantee the constancy of our love for our partners—and vice versa.

Who then should we look to? It’s obvious enough, isn’t it?

Christ.

Love is far from dead—because of Christ. It’s very much alive, blossoming within those who have received Christ’s love.

So let’s take heart, not in ourselves, but in the One whose love will never fail. Because He first loved us, we can keep on loving (1 John 4:19).

Photo credit: Filmstiftung via Foter.com / CC BY

ODJ: forgive and forget?


February 16, 2013 

READ: Jeremiah 31:31-40 


I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins (v.34).
 

Sergei said to his pastor, “It’s been 2 years since Danica cheated on me, and I still can’t get past the hurt. Some days I think I’ve moved on, but the pain is always lurking beneath the surface, ready to explode in the most unexpected moments. We can be having dinner in a restaurant, and sorrow and anger washes over me and I feel that I despise her. How can I forgive if I can’t forget?”
The pastor stated that it’s impossible to forget what Danica did, because she mattered to Sergei. “Have you ever apologised to someone,” he said, “only to learn that the person didn’t remember you or what you had done? There is nothing worse than realising you are so inconsequential that your sin didn’t even register. So it’s a good sign that Danica’s affair bothers you.”
Sergei pressed, “But doesn’t the Bible say that forgiveness requires forgetting? Doesn’t God forget our sins?”
“If by forgetting you mean that God no longer knows what we have done, then No!” responded his pastor. “It is impossible for God not to know everything that has happened or will happen. When God says He “will never again remember their sins” or that “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), He means He no longer holds our sins against us. He remembers what we have done, and His forgiveness is the richer for it. Because you love Danica and her sin cuts so deep, your forgiveness won’t be a one off event. Every time you remember what she did, you will need to release her moral debt. But as you fight for forgiveness, you will realise that you are fighting for her, and she will become more precious to you.
 “Forgiveness requires that we remember and release. We can’t forgive what we forget.” —Mike Wittmer


MORE
Read Psalm 103 to discover how God has forgiven us. How can we apply this to the forgiving of others?
 
NEXT
While forgetting is an obstacle to forgiveness, is there an opposite danger in dwelling on the offence? How can you tell if remembering a sin has morphed into unhealthy brooding?

 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: Jesus’ Father


February 2, 2013 

READ: Matthew 18:10-14 


In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish (v.14).

 

I was recently reading through the book of John when my eyes fell on these words: “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God” (John 20:17). This is the amazing declaration Jesus made to Mary Magdalene, just moments after she came to the stunning realisation that He had risen from the dead.

Jesus’ words are truly good news that speak to a deep need we all have inside of us. Every last one of us needs a father.

God didn’t flip a coin to decide whether or not to relate to us as a father or a mother. I believe it was intentional. God knew that once mankind got off track and fell into the brokenness of sin, the number of godly fathers serving their families would be severely lacking.

And the results have been devastating.
In America, for instance, research shows that children from fatherless homes are 32 times more likely to run away from home, 20 times more likely to have behavioural disorders, 9 times more likely to drop out of secondary school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
In his book Faith of the Fatherless, Paul Vitz points out the connection between atheism and the lack of a father figure. He argues that one of the major sources of the world’s prominent militant atheists is ”the absence of a good father”.

Part of the good news of Jesus is that God doesn’t want us to go through our lives lacking the presence and love of a father. Our heavenly Father wants to fill those places where our earthly fathers (even the good ones) fall short.

He wants us to know Him as our Father, just as Jesus does. —Jeff Olson
Exodus 3:1-22 ‹365-day plan |

MORE
Read Matthew 18:10-14 to see how serious God takes His role as our heavenly Father.
 
NEXT
Where do you need God to be a father to you? What are the characteristics of God the Father that mean the most to you?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)