By Lily Martinez
When you know Jesus and what awaits for you after this life, and your only hope for happiness is in heaven, you might be like me and try to skip ahead and just go straight there.
A few years ago I found myself living in a foreign country, isolated from my friends and family, in an emotionally abusive marriage. I was depressed and lonely and I desperately wanted to be happy again. I spent many nights praying in anguish, begging God to just take me home already.
As time passed, despite many prayers, my situation only got worse. The worse things got, the more I started to doubt God’s love for me. Was he ok with emotional abuse? I tried to reason things out, but slowly my relationship with God suffered to the point where I lost trust in him, and even though he had always been my place of refuge, I felt like I no longer knew who he was. Have you been there? Have your life circumstances shaken you so hard that you question your faith?
This was no small thing for me. I had a very strong faith. I was a leader in my church, I led a home church group for many years. When God called our family to move to a foreign country, I sold everything I owned and moved in obedience. I taught and preached in churches all the time. I was a strong Christian believer. I was not easily shaken. However, everybody has a breaking point, and I had reached mine.
I was crying out to God for help, but I was not prepared for the help that he sent. I thought he would heal my marriage, not take me out of it.
When my pastor confronted my husband in front of me, and told me that he would help me leave with my kids, instead of feeling loved and helped, I felt unsupported and ultimately betrayed. I defended my husband’s actions, because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do.
I wanted to be free, but I was raised to believe that divorce was not an option. Infidelity was forgiven, and love was a decision not an emotion. Most importantly, I didn’t want my kids to go through a divorce. I had way too many friends who were devastated by their parents divorce. I also knew that God hates divorce, because it is cruel. I just figured I needed to buckle down harder. Pray more. Seek God more. But I was so emotionally beat up, I was so weak, it was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning and cook for my family. I literally had no strength left to fight. I pushed down all my sadness, and kept on going.
My mind was trying to reason and defend my husband’s actions, but my heart was broken, and deep down I knew something was very wrong. This internal battle made me feel crazy, and the only thing that kept me sane was worshipping God. I would play worship music 24/7, and it would calm my anxiety and bring me peace.
Eventually the country we were living in became politically unsafe as civil war broke out, and so we had to leave. I left first, in order to prepare all the necessary paperwork for my children to follow me. Coming home again to live in Canada was a huge prayer answered. I was no longer isolated. I started to re-establish a life, reconnect with friends and family, and regain some independence. God provided me a job that I loved, and I started to feel like I could enjoy my life after all.
All the paperwork was ready in 6 months, after which I was reunited with my children and husband. My husband did not want to move back to Canada, and he was not happy to see me. His treatment of me became increasingly worse and I could no longer stay quiet and take it, so I used my new strength to defend myself, and push back.
Needless to say, my newfound self worth was not received very well, and after 18 years and 3 children, my husband suggested divorce. This shocked me, but it also brought me a whole new sense of hope for my future. After a lot of prayer and seeking God’s will, I felt God released me from my marriage, and so I agreed.
I instantly felt a dark cloud lift off me, and I felt joy again for the first time in years. I felt loved again by my God. He did care! He wasn’t ok with the way I was treated! He rescued me!!
I felt closer to God than I had in years. I left my old church family and took refuge at WPA, taking a season to step away from serving so I could heal and recharge. As I navigated through the aftermath of the separation, I found comfort in the Word. God spoke to me often through the scriptures, guiding me and reassuring me. I was in completely foreign territory in my Christian walk, and I found that very few of my Christian supporters understood and knew how to counsel me. God, however, has been faithful, and has been my rock through the most difficult times.
I never thought this would be my story. Never in a million years! But I’m here today to tell you God does care, he will save you, and he does want you to be happy and to enjoy your life here on earth.
I felt like I had lost my best years to a marriage that didn’t last. But God spoke fresh life into me with this verse:.
“So the LORD blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.”
I believe this will also be my story. Never doubt God’s goodness! He may show up in unexpected ways and your story might not unfold how you thought, but never forget that God loves you and has plans to bless you!