“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” Matthew 6:9-13
In standing for my wife to come home, I’ve come to recognize that for a good while I was praying for breakthrough and for my “suddenly” without asking for God’s will to be done. I prayed for what I knew to be His will, according to scripture, but I was still not giving Him full rule and reign over my situation. I know He hates divorce. I know His heart is for restoration, so I prayed for it.
I know He doesn’t want my wife to continue hurting me, our boys, herself and others, so I would pray for Him to completely sever any and all contact with any adulterous connections or those encouraging and supporting it. One day recently, I was praying for God to cut off a particular person from my wife that I just knew was bad news for her to be involved with at any level. As I did, I remembered Jesus praying in the Garden on the night He was betrayed:
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:42-44
Here was Jesus, crying out to God, knowing what was coming and agonizing over it. I had to ask myself if I was willing to pray, “not my will, but Yours be done” in closing my prayers for my wife and marriage. I wasn’t sure I wanted to. Not because I thought God would change His mind about marriage or decide my marriage, in particular, was just too far gone. I believe that train of thought is one of the enemy’s favorite schemes (if he can get us both to give up on the marriage then surely the finality of its end is secure!). No, I found myself wondering about mercy and whether my view of it could get skewed by my own idea of what that looks like.
We see in scripture that God is a merciful God. The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. Psalm 103:8 (NKJV)
James 2:13 tells us: Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)
So what does God’s mercy look like to me and to my wife? Surely it looks like her being cut off from all evil influences and as soon as possible! Surely it looks like her quick and sudden repentance and deliverance and healing and our sudden restoration! Well… maybe. “Not my will but Yours be done, Lord”?
I felt this question rise up in me: “What if it’s God’s mercy to allow your wife to remain in this state, remain in connection with ___, continue acting out or rebelling against Him until the work He desires to do IN HER is complete?” (Wait, WHAT?! God wouldn’t do that! Or would He?)
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. Isaiah 55:8 (NKJV)
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” Isaiah 46:10
He who knows the end from the beginning of our very lives says HIS purpose will stand. He says He will do all that He pleases! We know it would not please Him for our marriages to be destroyed by divorce. But we must remember He also says, “Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” (Job 5:17) and “the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:12). Far be it from me to limit HOW God might use even an “other man” or an ungodly friend or coworker to bring my wife to a place of genuine brokenness and true and complete repentance, that she would never have otherwise come to apart from that connection! I know this thought may seem foreign and absurd to some, but what if God, who began a good work in my wife over 25 years ago when she came to know Jesus, wants to bring that work to the next level of completion by ALLOWING her to walk further out into her sin until she experiences such sad consequences that she not only awakens to the truth of her sin, but also genuinely repents and is so grieved over her own choices that she NEVER wants to be in that state again! Would THAT not be God’s mercy, even if it seemed unmerciful in the midst of the trial?
So as I pray for my wife now, I do still pray for her sudden return. I pray for God’s mercy to be poured out to her. I pray for God to cover her in His armor and with the blood of Jesus. I bring the cross of Christ, the blood of Jesus, and the full work of the resurrection between my wife and every person she is in contact with. And I pray, “over all of these prayers and requests, Father, may YOUR will be done, in YOUR timing, so that Your purpose will stand and that You will be glorified in all things, Amen!”
David in Louisiana