Divorced…Can Jesus Relate?

Divorced...Jesus understands

Ten Reasons Why Jesus Understands.

Hebrews 4:15 bothered me for years. It says: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.” I know about Jesus’ suffering, how he was beaten and forced to wear a crown of thorns; how they nailed him to a wooden cross by his hands and feet and left him there to die. That would be the ultimate definition of suffering. And if I were being crucified, I know Jesus could relate, but what about the things we go through in life? Like when I got  divorced, I wondered…can Jesus relate to my suffering? Getting a divorce is not something Jesus ever did. He was never married to a woman. So how on God’s green earth can Jesus relate to someone getting divorced?

Divorce is awful!

Have you experienced the awfulness of divorce? Are you in the middle of one now? If you’ve never been divorced, then some might say you can’t relate to one who has been. You know the old saying, “It takes one to know one?” Well, it is hard to describe what your mind, body, and soul go through during the breakup of a marriage. People tend to look at you with a sympathizing smile, but inside they’re thinking you should have stuck it out or fought harder to save it. I’ve been divorced twice, once before becoming a Christian and once after, at the age of 25 and again at 53. There, I said it for all the world to read, but remember, judge not lest you be judged.

It wasn’t supposed to happen.

I did something I swore I would never do after becoming a Christian. The word divorce was not supposed to be in my marriage’s vocabulary, but sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you think. It wasn’t supposed to happen. I prayed and fasted and prayed some more. I cried out for God to change things, but, there it was…the awful truth. You can’t force someone to love you or turn their heart back to you. You can’t change the fact that you were betrayed and rejected as a wife. The Bible gives only one viable excuse for divorce: marital unfaithfulness. I had biblical grounds for ending the marriage. I had done what was necessary for my own spiritual, emotional and physical health, but it was still awful with night after night of crying out to God for help and comfort.

I’d been a missionary, a pastor’s wife, and now once again, a divorcee and I wondered…can Jesus really relate to my suffering?

And then I came across this passage in 1 Peter 4:12-13 that says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

Christ suffered throughout His entire life.

That verse got me to thinking about how Jesus suffered. We’ve already established his ultimate suffering before and on the cross, but what about the rest of his life. Did he suffer then, too? Then I found another verse in Hebrews 5:7:

During the days of Jesus’ life on earthhe offered up prayers and petitions
with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death…”

Wow, that sounded just like what I had done. Wait, that doesn’t say he prayed with loud cries and tears just at the end of his life. It says that during his life, he did so. I went back to the gospels, the first four books in the New Testament, and scanned through the chapters. There were several things pointing to the fact that Jesus suffered throughout his entire life. Here is what I found.

Ten reasons why Jesus understands how you feel.

  1. Jesus was homeless. When some men asked where he was staying, he told them he had no place to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). Divorced people sometimes lose their home.
  2. People hurled insults at him (Mark 15:29). Hurling insults is common in divorce.
  3. Jesus was sneered at by the religious leaders while he was eating dinner at their house (Luke 14:1, 16:14). Many churches and pastoral ministries treat divorced Christians as if they have leprosy.
  4. Jesus felt pain and anguish. He prayed so hard before his death that he sweat blood (Luke 22:44). I remember feeling like my heart would explode from the anxiety of an impending divorce.
  5. Jesus was accused of being demon-possessed and raving mad when he healed a blind man (John 10:19). When people don’t know the extent of betrayal, they can accuse you of being crazy to leave a such a good spouse.
  6. Jesus felt sorrow. At the death of his friend, Lazarus, Jesus cried (John 11:35). There’s no measurement big enough for the amount of sorrow that accompanies divorce.
  7. He was betrayed for one of his own disciples (John 18:2). A spouse’s betrayal breaks a heart into so many pieces you don’t think it can ever be whole again.
  8. He knew what it was to be poor. God’s Son gave up the riches of heaven so that we might obtain the riches of heaven one day (2 Corinthians 8:9). For many, the loss of the man’s income is devastating and many women lack the skills to acquire a life-sustaining salary.
  9. The King of kings became a servant. Jesus, God’s Son, became a man in order to bring us salvation (Philippians 2:7, 2:8). Wives who were blessed with a comfortable life prior to divorce find themselves taking service jobs to try and make ends meet. Their higher position becomes a lower one, which sometimes seems humiliating.
  10. Jesus was constantly having to dodge being captured by the religious leaders. They tried to have him arrested, stoned, and finally, yes, he was beaten, tortured, and hung on a cross to die. Living in hiding from a stalking and/or abusing ex-spouse is terrifying.

Divorced…Can Jesus relate to your suffering?

Jesus may not have been divorced, but he suffered many embarrassing, humiliating, and hurtful things in his short life. He knew what it felt like to be betrayed by people he loved. He felt the sting of hurtful words and actions by those he was trying to help. Jesus understood the pangs of hunger and thirst and the pain of physical abuse. He was mocked, reviled, and ridiculed. Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.”

Can Jesus relate to your suffering? Yes, I believe he can. He understands how it feels and knows just how to comfort you. If you’re going through a divorce or undergoing pain or suffering of any kind, remember you have a Savior who suffered in every way. All you have to do is cry out to him and he will rush to help.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

 

 

 

 

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts or answers any questions you have about this article.