The Gift Goes On

Posted: June 22, 2011 in Love and Marriage
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Last night, we had a couple over for dinner and we got to hear some of their story, as well as share more of ours.  Their names are Kevin and Deb, and this is the same Kevin that I referred to earlier in the blog.  He was one of the heroes during our separation, although he wouldn’t claim to have done anything heroic.  He would say that he was just doing what was in his heart to do, and that’s to help others who are going through painful struggles in their marriage.

Kevin was a friend of a friend who many years ago had walked out on his marriage and, years later, reconciled with his wife and family in spectacular fashion.  Two common themes with my own story of restoration were the healing that took place through love and forgiveness, and hearts and lives being radically changed by God’s love.  He supported and prayed for me while my wife and I were separated, and the one significant phone conversation I had with him during that time led to part of the breakthrough in our marriage.

Having been through all that, he and his wife have spent a lot of their years since doing whatever they can to help other couples find forgiveness, healing, and another chance at true love.  My wife and I were one of those couples by divine appointment, and now it’s in our hearts to do exactly the same.  Where we used to consider other peoples’ problems to be none of our business, now our hearts break for everyone we meet or hear of who are going through separation, divorce, or marital struggles of any kind.

We will probably never have a satisfactory answer to the question of why God allows troubles and afflictions to come into our lives, but what comes out of those, if we respond by moving toward God, instead of away from Him, is probably much more important than asking why.  That’s another commonality of Kevin and Deb’s marriage, and mine.  We wish we hadn’t had to go through all the pain, but what we have now is so much better than what we ever had before, we can’t help but conclude that we’re thankful for the end result.

The apostle Paul wrote these words nearly 2,000 years ago.  “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.”  If we never went through troubles, how could we help others?  Would you rather be comforted and helped by someone who has a perfect life, but has read a lot of books about problems, or by someone who has gone through the same problems you are and come through them stronger and better than before?

Before Kevin and I had met, and when I only knew him by what my friend Joe had told me, I used to call him, “that marriage guy.” All I knew was that he had won big in the arena of marriage, and now he wanted to help people like me who were losing.

Yesterday morning, the very same day that my wife and I were going to sit down with Kevin and Deb to celebrate where we had come from and where God has brought us, I received a text from a friend of mine telling me that he had a friend who was going through some difficulties.  He asked me if I could recommend any books or resources that had helped me and that might, in turn, be of help to his friend.  And so the circle goes on.

Why does God allow us to suffer and go through tough times?  Some of it is the consequences of our own choices.  Some of it is because He sees beyond the pain and knows the victories that will be won down the road because of it.  After all, that’s what His own Son Jesus did.  The Bible tells us that, “Because of the joy awaiting him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

No one wants to suffer.  We would all choose the easy road if we could.  But once we’ve experienced what’s on the other side, where the joy awaits us, we have something to offer to others.  We want to give what we’ve received, and that truly is a gift that keeps on giving.

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