The day our daughter called to tell us her husband had been unfaithful was the darkest day of my life. Never have I been so blindsided by bad news as I was that day. The glorious Sunday morning became dark and sickening, as a dense fog of outrage, anger and despair over took us.
My husband and I, over 1,000 miles away from our precious daughter, were completely lost for how to help her. Should we fly there and rescue her immediately? Our hearts said YES. Should we counsel her to stay and forgive him? Our faith said YES.
Anger came in great waves threatening to drown us, as we looked to God for answers. In some ways it was good that we were at such a distance, making it impossible to react face to face. As life-long followers of Jesus Christ, we did not like the feelings this was bringing out in us.
In between anguished bouts of crying and unbearable moments of physical nausea, I paced the house shouting and pleading with God for help. God reminded me of something filed away in my mind, a book I had seen online about 5 months earlier – a book dealing with marriages in crisis – a book which asks three questions – a book which had nothing whatsoever to do with my life, or so I thought. A book entitled, Before the Last Resort, by George Kenworthy.
With this memory recalled, I sprang into action to get copies of the book, one for me and one for her. I also ordered the CD of Dr. Kenworthy’s interview on Focus on the Family to be sent to our daughter. Then I sent an emergency email to Reconciliation Associates, Dr. Kenworthy’s online ministry site, grasping at every possible source of help.
The next day I received an email from Dr. Kenworthy himself, and began to see a glimmer of hope. George said something which became my lifeline: “I have been an eye witness to astounding work that God has done to save marriages that many thought were lost. Hang in there. Jesus continually reminds me that he has more power than I tend to give him credit for.”
From that point forward I began to believe there was hope for our daughter’s marriage, and we prayed from that perspective. I let her know the book and CD were en-route, and prayer warriors were being recruited (although anonymously because she did not want anyone to know, not yet). Still grieving the loss of what we had believed about their young marriage, we began to pray in earnest for the God of the Universe to bring healing and restoration to our daughter and son-in-law.
Once my book arrived, I quickly read it cover to cover and latched onto the ‘Help Me Help My Friend Guide’ in the back. Beginning with the first step, I began to convey to my daughter that “God is still capable of doing the impossible.” I asked her the three questions which are at the core of this book – “Do you believe that there is a God? Are you willing to apply the principles of the Bible to your life? Will you pray for God to strengthen you and your spouse?” As she answered a firm YES to each, I shared how even if only one spouse answers, YES to the questions, there is still a good chance the marriage will be saved.
Next I created the 3×5 card with a scripture from Jeremiah 32:27 which read: BEHOLD, I AM THE LORD, THE GOD OF ALL FLESH; IS ANYTHING TOO DIFFICULT FOR ME? Sending this to our daughter to put on her mirror I could sense the power of Almighty God was with us.
And so began the journey which I never hoped to travel. Walking into the darkness to encourage and uphold the faith of one whom, not that long ago, I had tucked into bed each night. Now, each night I would call her on the phone. Through this trial which threatened to undo us, we were bound together in His great love, trusting in His mighty power.
The next three months brought tests to our faith. But by leaning on and relying solely on the Lord our daughter began to grow in her faith. Instead of crumbling, she blossomed. In spite of her broken heart, she held on to hope. Many miracles accompanied these dark days.
Her husband moved out – staying with a buddy and living a single lifestyle. He talked of divorce, was not interested in counseling – especially Christian counseling, and we had no contact with him. There was no one to influence him – but God. With that in mind my husband and I made a plan to pray daily over our son-in-law. Using the guide for praying scriptures found in the back of George’s book, we lifted our ‘son’ up to God. We prayed like we have never prayed before, appealing to God’s mercy, power and love we asked God to work by the Holy Spirit, to bring our son back into right thinking, to remind him of all the Lord has done for him, to guide him into the Truth. Eventually our daughter was able to speak truth to him, and to let him know she believed God could save their marriage.
But our daughter needed someone to pray with too. We asked God to provide that person but our daughter had not told her church friends about the separation. At church the next Sunday a friend came to our daughter saying, “God put you on my heart this week. Do you need to talk? Maybe we can get together.” They began to meet once a week for prayer and godly conversation, sharing the wisdom of George’s book. This was an exact answer to our prayers.
As we experienced answers, our hope for restoration grew. But there were several major setbacks too. One which shocked us all was our son-in-law’s sudden demand that our daughter move out of their home and find a small apartment for herself – alone. This was a blow to her spirit, but she did not lose hope. I reminded her of George’s question in Chapter 6 – “how would Jesus handle the hurt and disappointment that I face?” Using 1 Peter 3:1-2 as a guide, I prayed for and encouraged my daughter to find a way to comply with her husband’s request. This scripture says, “They may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
She agreed to begin looking for an apartment and asked me to help. She found several choices and I checked them out online while she was at work. After looking at a couple of places she decided on one, put down a deposit, and told her husband she had found a place to live, but she needed him to come over to sign papers for the lease application.
Things did not look good. Their previous meetings, though few, had been anything but productive. This was not what we had prayed for. We had been asking God to preserve this household, not to have our daughter move out.
When we learned her husband was coming to their home to talk about the apartment, we began to pray. We asked God to make their home ‘holy ground’—so that the moment her husband stepped into the house, he would be overwhelmed by the Spirit of God. We asked God to demonstrate His mighty power in a way that would be unmistakable. In keeping with George’s book, we asked for a ‘billboard’ moment.
That night after talking about the apartment our daughter and her husband shared a meal – the first in months. After eating a simple dinner of Chinese take-out, they opened the single fortune cookie. The message read HALLELUJAH!
Hallelujah? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen or heard of any fortune cookie with a message like that! Although nothing was resolved we knew this was their ‘billboard’ moment. This was the moment Almighty God chose to display his power.
A few agonizing days later, our other daughter and I were eating dinner in a restaurant while my husband was out of town. We had almost finished our meal when my cell phone rang. It was our daughter calling. Her husband had just stopped by the house. He came to tell her he wanted to make their marriage work.
Talk about Hallelujah – I was laughing and crying at the same time, and trying my best not to shout and dance around the restaurant. My poor daughter was trying to decipher my emotions, knowing it was her sister on the phone. With a big ‘thumbs up’ I let her know that sister’s news was GOOD NEWS. It was the news we had been waiting for – the news we had hoped and prayed for—the news that God is able to do the impossible.
There are many miracles involved in this story, but none greater than the transformation of all our lives. Although I am not yet ready to thank God for this heart-wrenching circumstance, I am thankful for the lessons of trust and hope which it taught me.
Since then God has placed many couples in our path – couples whose marriages are failing – couples headed for divorce. Instead of seeing this as an issue which has nothing to do with my life, I am now prepared to offer hope in the power of Almighty God. The God who says, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?” HALLELUJAH!