Forgiving Adultery

He was supposed to be out with the army. That’s what 2 Samuel 11:1 says about King David.

But he decided to stay home.

He took a stroll along his rooftop and saw a beautiful woman taking a bath. And the rest, as they say, is history.

David lusted. Bathsheba succumbed. David ordered Bathsheba’s husband murdered so he could marry her. They had a child.

All seemed well. But God did not forget what took place. The price of David’s sin was the life of their child.

So much collateral damage from one person who thought he was above reproach, the law, or reprimand.

Are you and I any different?

Adultery plagues our world today. Whether you have been victimized by it or know a family member or friend who has suffered a wayward spouse, infidelity affects us all.

Infidelity frays the fabric of families.

Teachers feel the effects in their classrooms when kids act out or grades slip as they process the emotional hurricane caused by their parents’ divorces.

Pastors’ and counselors’ schedules stay full as they walk the victims of adultery toward God’s healing.

I don’t use the word victim lightly. That’s what adultery feels like.

The one person to whom you opened your heart, body, and mind decided on some level that you were insufficient. Whether that insufficiency stems from within or is persuaded from without, it decimates intimacy.

Adultery ranks among the top significant hurts that are the most difficult to forgive. But that’s not news. The real news is that “victim” is not our identity when we are in Christ.

And if we are in Christ, forgiveness is not optional. Ugh. Believe me, I understand how much that stinks to hear when you’re sleeping single in a double bed.

Forgiving the deep betrayal of adultery seems impossible. How do you even begin such a daunting process?

I asked that question several times. When our emotions are screaming for vengeance, entertaining thoughts of forgiveness seems impossible. But as God’s children, we do not operate in our own strength.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

If you’ve experienced adultery, you will feel weary and faint. But rely on HIS strength.

People question when I say, “Through gritted teeth, I asked God to help me forgive my ex-husband.” That’s because forgiveness is an intentional act of the will.

When I kept asking God to help me forgive my ex-husband instead of dwelling on his actions, God focused my thoughts on Him, not the hurt.

God sets our heart right when we focus on the Lord and surrender toxic emotions to Him. (Colossians 3:2, Proverbs 3:6).

So how do you walk toward forgiveness?

Begin with prayer. Pray for God to heal your shattered heart and mend your broken spirit. Over and over and over.

It may seem as if you’re trying to convince yourself that you’re worth such love. God says you are.

Healing takes endless hours poring through Scripture. The verses God used powerfully in my life during that time were Psalm 18:16–19.

No matter our hurt, its depth or its breadth, God rescues us. Why? Because “He delighted in me.” That’s it. No other credential necessary.

Your worth is not stained by those who hurt you.

Your lovability factor is not decreased by his or her actions.

You are completely and wholly loved by God regardless of external circumstances.

When we endure painful seasons, knowing that Christ is our strength gives purpose to our pain. God never wastes a hurt. He will use that brokenness for our good and His glory.

Forgiveness doesn’t let them off the hook. Forgiveness frees you from the narrative of hate.

Ask God to help you forgive your adulterous spouse.

Keep asking.

Not because God doesn’t hear you, but to keep your focus on Him.

Keep focused.

In Christ alone, you will find hope, healing, and the strength to forgive.

 

*This post is an excerpt from my new book, Forgiveness: Received From God, Extended to Others, available now.

Without This Ring by Donna Pyle

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Dear Pastor’s Wife: Please Forgive Us

A little over two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post dedicated to pastors.

The response was incredible.

Beyond the blog and Facebook comments seen by all, what touched me the most were the responses that came through phone calls, texts, private Facebook messages, and even notes through the regular mail from those who love our pastors most: their wives.

They expressed such gratitude at the encouraging words shared on the post for their husbands. 

It reminded me about the challenging road our pastors’ wives walk — not only my pastors’ wives but the plethora of these amazing women whom I have had the privilege to meet and befriend all over the country.

So to each of you precious, dearly-loved, women of courageous faith:

You gracefully stand silently in the shadows while people clamor for your husband’s attention and heap praises on him (though he deserves it) when we choose not to notice you.

Please forgive us.

You live in a glass house where everything is scrutinized, yet you continue to keep those windows clean with the forgiveness extended that we often don’t deserve.

Please forgive us.

We ruthlessly police your fashion, hairstyle, hair color, size, and words like it’s our sole duty on this planet.

Please forgive us.

You sit dutifully while your husband uses your family as a sermon illustration pun again and smile while we laugh at you.

Please forgive us.

When we gripe, complain or criticize something about your husband or the church — even when it gets so nasty that there should be a smack down right in the middle of the narthex — you smile graciously and tell us that you will pass along our concerns.

Please forgive us.

You strive to walk as a disciple of Jesus, faced with the same struggles and complications that we go through, yet you’re faced with the challenge of going through many things silently.

Please forgive us. 

You are often thrown into positions in the church that no one else wants to do — often areas you are not gifted in — yet you trudge faithfully ahead while we criticize every step.

Please forgive us.

And then, there’s this:

Some days, you worry the stress may kill your husband. You desperately want to be in the will of God but may be afraid of what that might require of you, your marriage and your children.

You long to help the multitudes and would lay down your very lives for the beautiful body of Christ, and that makes you very, very tired. Perhaps you wonder when your husband retires if you will ever walk into a Church again. Sometimes sheep bite.

But I want you to know, dear Pastor’s Wife: 

It’s tough and can get lonely out there, but you are standing on the Rock.

You may not have anticipated this calling to be a pastor’s wife, but God has equipped you for this noble work.

God will faithfully provide helpers to you who love you wholeheartedly and find joy in praying for you and walking alongside you — whether inside or outside your Church.

Jesus can heal your wounded soul, renew your tormented mind, reconcile broken relationships, bring about forgiveness, bring hope in the midst of exhaustion, mend your broken heart, and meet your every need.

I pray for God to keep faith and hope alive in you, because WE NEED YOU.

We may not always tell you, but please know this:

You are LOVED.
You are BEAUTIFUL.
You are VALUED.
You shine God’s light RADIANTLY.

Sisters, I love you dearly and esteem you greatly. THANK YOU for your extraordinary sacrifice of praise to Christ our Savior.

Church, when was the last time you prayed for your pastor’s wife?

C’mon, let’s encourage them today. What say you?

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