‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10:7-8
“There’s no hope for Bob to change. He’s too far gone. Your only option is a divorce.”
Those were the words my mom heard over and over from counselors, pastors, and well-meaning friends. She listened to their advice and pursued a divorce. My dad had moved out 18 times in the first 18 years of marriage. They would argue, and he would pack a bag and say he was never returning. Over and over, the cycle would repeat itself.
There were months of good times and joy, and then something would go wrong, and there would be seasons of unfaithfulness and physical and verbal abuse. When something hurts us, our instinct is to get rid of the offender. Just like Paul tried to rid himself of the thorn in his side, my mom decided her marriage was beyond hope, and she wanted to be free of pain.
A couple of months after their divorce, a couple came to our church to put on a concert. That couple shared their testimony of healing in a very broken marriage. They shared how God had redeemed an alcoholic and abusive husband and transformed each of them into His image. For the first time, my mom realized she took many opinions on her situation, but she never asked God what he thought of Bob Steinkamp. She repented to God, and that afternoon she called my dad and invited him to go to the evening service with her and hear this couple’s story.
At the time, my dad was involved with another woman and was not interested in hearing anything about marriage restoration. He listened to my mom’s apology for her part in the breakdown of their marriage and wished her well but informed her that he would never be coming home.
She returned to church that Sunday evening alone. At the end of the service, the pastor invited couples to the altar who wanted to pray that God would transform their marriage and heal their brokenness. Broken and realizing her need for God’s touch, she went to that altar alone to pray. She boldly took a stand for her marriage that evening, not knowing how, when, or even if God would restore it in this lifetime, but she knew what He was calling her to do.
For the next couple of years, she stood firm, praying that God would redeem what the enemy tried to steal. As you can imagine, my dad was not on board with this idea. He had moved on with his life, and despite his best efforts at hoping the next chapter would be his dream, he was convinced by the Holy Spirit. He would call my mom and beg her to stop praying for him to come home because he couldn’t handle the conviction. If you have ever prayed for a prodigal child or spouse, you know that nothing will stop those prayers.
God was at work! It wasn’t always evident on the surface, but He was changing my mom, and He was definitely changing my dad.
Two and a half years after their divorce, my parents stood in our pastor’s office about 100 yards from where my mom knelt and prayed that God would heal their marriage, and they remarried. How suddenly it happened was a shock to not only them but everyone who knew them.
You can imagine how the phone call to my dad’s girlfriend went that evening.
“Hi, I won’t be there for dinner tonight. I remarried Charlyne this afternoon.” Her response was, “I always knew this would happen.” Even she knew God’s power to redeem and restore that which seems broken.
You may be in a broken marriage. It may seem as if you have more bad days than good days. I want you to know there is hope because of Jesus Christ. He has the power to redeem and restore your covenant marriage!
“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27
Where do you start?
First, if you are in an abusive situation, get to safety. Even if you are not living under the same roof as your spouse, you can begin to work on your marriage.
Do a self-evaluation and ask God to reveal areas of your marriage where you need to take responsibility. Pray that God will expose the things that need to be brought to light.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:14
Seek wise counsel. Depending on the status of your marriage, that will vary for each couple. Some will need the help of their pastor, and others may need a licensed counselor. Find someone who will partner with you in fighting for your marriage. You may be the person who will stand with a friend fighting for their marriage. Who do you know who needs to hear the good news?
There is hope!
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9
If you want to read more about my parent’s testimony, check out my dad’s book, Prodigals Do Come Home.
If you need more resources on marriage restoration, visit our website.