Oh, it would never happen to me! When I get married, my husband would never be unfaithful to me. How sure I was! And quite boldly I would proclaim that I would never leave my husband except for two things – physical abuse or unfaithfulness. I would declare, quite frankly, that should either of these things happen, I would be “out the door,” never to return. But the reality of life often hits hard, and when it hits, a marriage can be shattered. You sit in that shattered heap of rubble and wonder, “How did I ever end up here?”
My husband and I had been married for several years, and was thought by most, including myself, to be happily married. My husband’s career was quite successful. We had beautiful and healthy children. We had a very nice home, and from all appearances, all was well. But all was not well. My husband often stayed late at work. He went out after work with friends. A few drinks to relax after a hard week’s work – what could be the harm? But that lifestyle and many “few drinks” led to the bed of adultery and to much harm.
I was unaware of how deeply our marriage was in trouble. I knew that there was a distance between us, but I didn’t know what it was. I knew that he was gone often, but I tried to be understanding. I wanted things to be different, but I didn’t know where to begin. But God knew just where to begin.
The place that He began was not with my husband, but was with me. He began to teach me, through His Word, how to be a wife to my husband. He began to teach me how to be a help to my husband. He began to teach me how to stand in support of my husband. And after several months into becoming this new wife that the Lord was creating, the Lord did an unexpected thing. Through a series of circumstances, the Lord removed my husband from his job, causing our financial state to immediately change. As difficult as this seemed at the time, how graciously the Lord removed my husband from the very surroundings that were pulling him astray. We were now in each other’s company almost constantly, and the truths that the Lord had taught me about being a wife were truly becoming a part of our marriage. Though finances were difficult, our marriage seemed stronger than ever.
And then came that fateful day – my husband said that he wanted to talk to me about something. I knew from the tone of his voice that it must be serious, and as I settled into my place on the sofa, I heard that still, small voice of my Lord say, “Just listen.” I knew to be quiet and just listen. My husband began to tell his story – his story of unfaithfulness to me and to our marriage. He said he would understand if I wanted to leave, and concluded with, “I truly am sorry.” Still not having uttered a word, words began to come from the depth of my heart – words that definitely were not my own words. My words would have screamed. My words would have accused. My words would have lashed out to make him hurt as much as I was hurting. But instead of hurtful words, I heard myself saying, “The Lord has forgiven me much. I know that I must forgive you.” The conversation was ended. He again reiterated that he was sorry, and he went to work at a small job that he had begun.
The right words had been spoken, and again all seemed well. But all was not well. As my husband left our home to go to his job, I was left alone to face the darkest hour that I had ever known. In the midst of hurt and despair that words cannot describe, I walked into our bedroom, closed the door, and wept, and wept, and wept before the Lord.
As strange as this may sound, there was a voice, though not audible, speaking to me. The voice was very clearly telling me that my husband had a gun, and that I knew where he kept it, and that I knew that it was loaded, and that it would be so easy to end this whole thing. As this voice cleverly attempted to pull my thoughts toward death, I so very clearly heard another calm, but authoritative, voice say, “No, she is mine.” My Lord had spoken.
At that point, I was able to pick myself up from the floor. I went to get my Bible, sat in the middle of my bed, and said, “Lord, speak to me. I need to hear from you.” The Lord God, by His Holy Spirit, walked me verse by verse through forgiveness. He showed me, in the Scriptures, the truth of the words that I had spoken before but had not understood. He showed me that truly He had forgiven me much and that I was to forgive my husband in this same way. He took me, passage by passage, through the epistles where Christians are commanded to forgive. Step by step, these are the truths (NKJV) through which He had me walk:
I beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love … (Ephesians 4:1-2).
… and be renewed in the spirit of your mind … (Ephesians 4:23).
… put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness … (Ephesians 4:24).
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers … (Ephesians 4:29).
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice … (Ephesians 4:31).
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you … (Ephesians 4:32).
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above ... (Colossians 3:1).
Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth ...” (Colossians 3:2).
… put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him ... (Colossians 3:10).
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering … (Colossians 3:12).
… Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against one another; even as Christ forgave you, so must you do ... (Colossians 3:13).
Yes, my Lord had spoken. I must forgive my husband, just as my Lord had forgiven me. Then, my Lord brought me to yet another passage:
… so that on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow ... (2 Corinthians 2:7).
Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him … (2 Corinthians 2:8).
… that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things … (2 Corinthians 2:9).
… I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices … (2 Corinthians 2:10-11).
I had no doubt – I had asked to hear from my Lord, and I had heard. I knew that not only was I to forgive my husband, but I was also to comfort him and to reaffirm my love to him. This was truly a test. Would I be obedient in all things? By a work of God’s grace that I cannot explain, the Lord enabled me to walk in His truth. Exactly how I was to reaffirm my love to my husband I was not sure, but I was committed to do what my Lord had spoken. I had regained my composure, had settled my heart, and was prepared to obey my Lord.
The telephone rang. The person on the other end of the line said that my husband’s grandfather, who had been a special part of my husband’s life, was dying, and if my husband wanted to see him, he needed to come right away. My husband’s grandfather lived out of town, and of course, no one knew all that had transpired in our home that morning. I, however, knew exactly what the Lord wanted me to do. I knew that our finances would not allow my husband to make the trip. We simply had no money. But God always knows exactly what He is doing. A Christian friend had sent me some money, some while back. She said she knew that I wouldn’t want to keep it, but begged me to keep it because she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Lord had told her to send it. Because she was so sure, I tucked the money and envelope away, with a prayer. If the Lord had actually sent the money, I would wait until He showed me its purpose. I called my husband, delivered the message about his grandfather, and prepared myself for him to come home. I knew that I was to tell him that I was committed to the Lord, committed to him, and committed to our marriage. I was also to give him the money from the Lord and offer to go with him to visit his grandfather. That was the beginning of the working out of the forgiveness that the Lord had worked within. My husband did see his grandfather before he died, and at the same time, a new season of our life was born.
Although the Lord had done a wonderful work, the reality of life is still real. Each step of the way, I had to lean hard upon the Lord, listening keenly for His voice. Nauseating pictures of my husband with another woman would arise in my mind. I would have to refuse to think upon those things and replace those thoughts with the truth. My Lord had forgiven that horrible sin, and I must not and would not allow my mind to dwell there. Time after time, I would have to refuse to allow myself to think on the sin, and force myself to think only upon the Lord’s grace and forgiveness. Slowly, through days, weeks, and months, the thoughts came less and less. I had to work through the feelings of rejection, the feelings of insecurity, the impressions of myself as undesirable, and the question of “What was wrong with me?” I also had to work through the times that my husband would turn to me for intimacy when everything within me would want to push him away. But as always, my blessed Lord would speak truth to my heart, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” And with a desire to obey my Lord, I would willingly submit.
Do any of those thoughts ever return to my mind? On very rare occasions they do, but as before, I must steadfastly refuse them. They are not thoughts from my Lord. It is the enemy speaking; he is called the accuser, and he seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. I simply respond with, “It is forgiven.”
There is no way to describe how fully and completely the Lord does a work. Many years have passed since those hurtful days. The Lord has truly healed and blessed our marriage. My husband and I sincerely love one another, and both of us fully enjoy married life. What the Lord has created is a stronger marriage than we ever possessed before. How is this possible? The only answer that I can give is that if you belong to the Lord, He loves you with an everlasting love. He will care for you in every situation and circumstance. The greatest challenge that you will face is to trust Him, to hear Him, and to humbly obey Him. Don’t refuse the only One who can truly help you! He truly is the only hope that we have!
I’ve grown so much since those naive days when I thought that this would never happen to me. None of us know what life holds for us. And as to the bold assertion that I would never stay with a husband who was unfaithful to me, stay I did. “Why?” – you may ask. “You had every right to leave.” The only answer that I have is that my God is a God of forgiveness, and He tenderly spoke truth to my heart. These words I will never forget, “Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Glory to His name!
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Woman – Precious in the Sight of God © 2002. I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.