Startled, my eyes opened in a fury — darting across the room with more questions than I had gone to sleep with.
…What time is it? …What day is it? … Please Lord, tell me it was all just a terrible nightmare…
My eyes fixated on the nightstand. A bottle boldly labeled, ‘PAIN RELIEF’ brought the events of the last 36 hours flooding back…
The confessions made in the dark.
My sobs, deep and heavy, that went on all through the night while my husband looked on helplessly.
The two Tylenol PM’s that had been the only conceivable way to silence my thoughts.
Just hours earlier, I had prayed that God either provide a miracle, or blow the roof off my marriage. And considering my husband’s latest confessions, it was obvious God had chosen to do the latter.
I would have rather him cheated… I thought to myself, as I rolled the bottle around in the palm of my hand pondering the irony of it’s promise to provide Pain Relief, when in no way could the contents of this bottle relieve me of the pain I had been confronted with.
We have to get divorced…We are out of second chances…
My husband hung his head in agreement.
I put the weight of my head in my hands, tightly closed my eyes and declared to the universe, that if for the last 6 months I had been breaking, than this final blow had left me shattered.
I had only one question left for God — How did I get here?
God’s response was as infuriating as it was comforting,
“… I led you here.”
What I Learned When God Led Me To A Place Of Hopelessness
1. God planned this.
My husband and I had planned on going on a vacation the following day — We had also planned to have another child, buy matching side tables and grow old together, but all of that was so cruelly distant now.
I was now, very calmly, asking the man I vowed to love ‘till death do us part,’ to write me a letter of consent so I could take my daughter across the country to live with my parents until our divorce was final.
Surely, this wasn’t the way things were supposed to go — right?
For months the verse that had held me together were the words God spoke to the Israelites in their moment of sheer desperation — Just stand still and stay calm, The Lord will rescue you, He had promised them, and to me.
But then I found a verse that was (far) less comforting,
In Exodus 13:17-18 it says, “God did not lead them along the main road even though that was the shortest route… God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea [to a place of complete hopelessness.]”
“I have planned this in order to display my glory…” God goes on to say. (14:4)
You planned, this? I challenged, as I sat in the wreckage of my derailed dreams.
2. God led you here on purpose, and for a purpose.
God knows what we are up against — be it broken marriage vows, a terrifying diagnosis, or a brutal battle with depression — Whatever it is, like the Isrealites, God could have taken us down an easier route…
Even more ideal would have been, if God could have just used His mighty power to obliterate the problem entirely. (But He didn’t, which I’ll admit on an especially dark day pisses me off.)
But two things are certain, had God not led the Israelites kicking and screaming through the wilderness and to a place of complete hopelessness, they would have both avoided their problem altogether (by bypassing the Red Sea completely) — and missed the miracle.
What we fail to see in our most desperate times, is that our circumstances are equally hopeless as they are potentially miraculous.
Mark Batterson puts it best when he says, “Everyone wants a miracle. We just don’t want to be in the dire circumstances that require one.”
Got dire circumstances? …Check!
Then whatever you do, don’t even think about giving up before the miracle unfolds.
3. Your gravest danger is giving up.
I had just told my husband of 7 years I was leaving, and just days before our wedding anniversary. There was no miracle left for us, I was sure of it.
And I made sure to tell God that, before drifting off to sleep.
However, when I awoke I will never forget the words that were awaiting me on my phone. A text from a reader of this blog (who I had never met in person and who knew nothing about my current desperation) And no doubt, a response from the God I was certain was done with me and my marriage.
“As you journey along your life path with Me, refuse to let your past define you or your expectations of what lies ahead. The future is in My hands and I can do surprising new things with it.
Your gravest danger is giving up; ceasing to believe I can do wondrous new things in you and your world. For I have said, I will make a pathway through the wilderness and will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
– God, Isaiah 43:19
Upon reading those words, three thoughts flashed through my mind,
- The Israelites up against the Red Sea. Who like me, were terrified, hopeless and certain there was no time left for a miracle. Yet were just moments away from God making a way through the impossible.
- The fortune cookie I had opened just days prior — promising ‘a reward for listening in the next week.’
- The events that had been on the calendar long before my heart broke, and had us (inconveniently) scheduled to leave the state, the very next day.
“The future is in My hands and I can do surprising new things with it. “ God had said (you know, when he texted me…)
…Your gravest danger is giving up.”
I couldn’t run fast enough to my husband, in shock at the words that were bumbling out of my mouth, …I could postpone filing for divorce — at least through the next week! Instead… we should go ahead with our scheduled vacation… ????
It was obvious to both of us, I was losing it.
Less obvious though, was that the waters were stirring and the ground was shaking, as God was preparing to carve a path straight through our darkest days — just like He did for the Israelites.
Because while God may lead us through the wilderness, to a place of complete hopelessness, He never intended to leave us there.
Even crazier, was we were on the verge of our very own miracle — A miracle that would be ushered in by events that would unfold ‘in the next week’ just like the fortune had said.
…And in Anderson, South Carolina nonetheless.