Infidelity and distrust can crush a marriage. However, confession and forgiveness are more powerful than you may have ever imagined.
Over these 8 and 1/2 years of Westpoint Church, we have counseled with and walked with a number of couples struggling through the difficult, beautiful ebb and flow of a marital relationship. Some have not turned out as we hoped. The restoration of others have blown us away.
One couple in particular still moves me to tears almost every time I think of their story. Suffice it to say that one spouse thought everything was average to good with their marriage, until the day a confession was made.
For some reason, and they have told me as such, a groveling confession made it more possible for restoration, whereas getting caught might have been the doom of their marriage.
They connected with the Westpoint family and admitted that the teaching of grace and the emphasis on daily making disciples grabbed their attention. The message of God’s near love and His intent for us to live on mission together both encouraged and challenged them toward a refreshed relationship with Jesus. Both husband and wife were learning and growing. And as the Jesus tends to do, He graciously met them at their “sicknesses” and began to heal (Matthew 9).
Little did they know the rocky journey of discovery and healing that would come.
“I have to confess. I know it is a necessary step as well as a possible death blow. But there is no way we can be who Jesus intended without it.”
And the confession came. And so did weeks of denial and anger and profound grief and the very, tiny beginnings of forgiveness and restoration.
The Gospel. Mysterious. A “good news” that Jesus did not wait for us to say we were sorry to take initiative to forgive and love and restore. A “good news” that Jesus was good enough, because we won’t ever be. A “good news” that we are worth dying for. A “good news” that calls us to believe we are loved and compels us to love as we have been loved. Even when our parent abandons us. Even when our sibling takes advantage of us. Even when our neighbor lies to us. Even when our co-worker takes advantage of us. Even when our child forsakes our care. Even when our spouse cheats on us.
Really? Seriously? Yes. It is possible.
“Believe me,” they might say, “we know that not everyone would be willing to endure the pain and anger and bewilderment and difficulty we have endured for the length we have endured it to walk through confession and forgiveness and restoration and healing.”
But can I tell you what they say they have learned. Experienced. Witnessed in each other. Seen renewed like never before. Known intimacy they thought impossible.
It doesn’t always work out this way.
I have pastorally counseled with couples whose story is very different. It involved unfaithfulness, but it ended with ravaging divorce that added to the already instigated devastation. And if you are in that boat, don’t take this story as discouraging with a “why not me?” Rather, take it as encouraging with a “grateful He can.”
Cause this couple would be the first to tell you they are no better or more able than anyone else. They just both resolved to surrender to the One who makes all things new. And He did something in them, over time, still working and healing now even, for which they are eternally grateful.
Unfortunately, in most cases, both husband and wife are not resolved and surrendered. It is usually only one, and that one usually takes the brunt of it.
Even that is included in the Gospel. The “good news” of the One who knew no sin but became sin on our our behalf” (2nd Corinthians 5:21). Who took the brunt of it.
So take heart. Grace is near. Forgiveness is possible.
May we live confessionally and contritely and graciously with one another.
And Lord Jesus, please help us in all of our relationships to be surrendered and resolved to follow You, no matter what we have to endure. Because love can. It never fails. Your love, that is.
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34, 35 HCSB)