Can a promise of hope be more of a judgment? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I am pretty sure I have been told this one a few times. It is one that when I think about it deeply stings. I remember talking to another friend who has been divorced and is now remarried and he told me the exact same thing. This is when people say “God will send you someone when you’re ready.”
The whole idea is to not be out there trying to find a spouse. Now I was told to wait at least a year, which I have done. However, the whole idea here is to not try. Whether one is ready or not is not the issue. Let’s look further then at this statement.
The intention I think is to give hope. It is to talk to someone who wants someone to love and all the joys that come with that and to tell them that there is someone out there for them. It’s to invoke the blessing of God on the person. They are not abandoned. God will send them someone when the time is right, which is when they are ready. What could be wrong about that? Isn’t that good news for someone who wants a spouse?
Why it’s wrong:
Let’s start with an easy one. This is claiming to speak where God has not and promising what He has not promised. Now I realize that most people who want to remarry do and that means that the odds are in my favor, but that doesn’t necessitate it. For example, I could die in a car accident and then God certainly wasn’t going to send me someone when I was ready. I hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s a possibility.
We should always be cautious of people trying to speak the words of God when God has not spoken or trying to give divine authority to their actions, words, feelings, etc. This is one reason I have a problem with the idea of “feeling led.” It can be a way of thinking that our emotions come from God and have divine authority.
However, let’s look at the other issue. What you are talking about is a person who is going through something extremely hurtful and yet if they are thinking about remarriage, they have desires. Speaking as a man, love and sex rank right up there as strong desires. I am also a great admirer of beauty and I miss having the beauty of a woman in my life. I miss being desired. There is something about the male ego that we love the attention of women, starting with our mothers growing up and then moving on to a female partner one day.
A woman meanwhile could long to be provided for and cherished. She can have the exact same desires as a man. I remember well talking about the desire for sex that men have in DivorceCare and one woman saying “It’s not just men.” Yes. Women have desires as well. Therefore, let’s just look and say that whatever the reason, a person wants to get married again.
What this is telling them is that God will get them remarried, but they have to do something to get ready and then God will bless them. Until then, their efforts will end in flames and they’d better not even try. What is this? They don’t know and the person talking to them doesn’t. Therefore, God is giving them some secret goal to meet and they have to find that goal and then meet it to get someone.
Imagine having that requirement for something.
When it’s put that way, it’s like God is dangling a carrot on a stick before them and not letting them get it until they do something that they don’t even know that they need to do. God is in a sense withholding from them a good blessing. Now God can do that and if He wants to withhold a spouse until they do something, that is His prerogative, but it’s quite another for one of us who doesn’t know to claim that this is what He is doing and outright stating it to someone.
I earlier stated this rule to imagine saying something similar to these statements to a Christian couple trying to naturally conceive a child. Imagine if you said, “God will send you a child when you’re ready.” If the idea is to not even try until then, well then the couple abstains from sex. I can guarantee you that they won’t have a child that way and odds are, they could start to break apart too as Paul did condemn withholding from one another except for a short time and by mutual consent.
In this case, it could be God wants to see them reach a certain point before He will open the womb and allow a woman to give birth, but we do not know that and cannot say that. I won’t rule out a bona fide word of knowledge coming to someone, but it needs to be backed by solid evidence. There is no wrong with the couple still trying to conceive a child naturally. I do realize a couple could adopt, but I am explicitly talking about natural conception through intercourse for a reason.
What to say instead:
Listen to the desires of the person first. Understand what they want and understand why they want it. Ask genuine questions if you want to understand and do not ask them in an accusatory fashion. Encourage the person to also seek therapy if need be, and I think most everyone who has gone through a divorce needs therapy to some extent, and yes, that includes me and I do have a therapist.
If the person wants to marry, help them out on how to improve on that path to be a better spouse. I have spent time talking with people to learn more about interaction with the opposite sex and reading books. When I talk to people now, I am making a lot more eye contact and I am smiling a lot more than I did in the past. These are small steps, but they are major ones for me, but I sure wouldn’t mind some other men coming alongside of me and helping me to understand how to interact with women even better.
Heck. If you think they are ready and you know someone who is fitting for them, you could even see if you could set up a date for that person. For some of us, it could be a struggle to ask someone out again because we are thinking about what the rejection was like from our last spouse. I can say on my end, it’s extremely frustrating to not have much income and be 41 and be on the spectrum and be having to look again. It’s never where I wanted to be.
For both sexes also, offer to help them maintain sexual fidelity too regardless. That means definitely no pornography. I can say on my end that I have avoided it even after being away from her, but I can also say there have been times I have been strongly tempted and I have had to just wait for it to pass. I can say there are times that I want to scream internally because maintaining the proper lifestyle can be hard. It’s probably one reason I’m doing so many other things.
While historically men have been the biggest users of porn, women are using it more and more nowadays. Both sexes need the help of that. I know that when I remarry, I don’t want any future wife of mine to have to compete with several images that I have seen in my head before. Part of abstaining from pornography and any other sexual behavior is maintaining faithfulness also to a woman I haven’t even married.
Overall though, when you see someone going through this, again, be Jesus to them. Expressing caution about a desire I think can be fine, but I don’t think any good comes from throwing cold water on it entirely. That desire can be something that is keeping them going. Find a way to help them please Christ with it.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)