Adultery brings suffering. That is the nature of sin. If there was ever any doubt that marriage creates a bonding between two souls, that doubt is quickly erased when one spouse breaks the bond. The pain is crushing. The soul is devastated. Even if the marriage was not perfect (which it never is), adultery crosses the line of ultimate trust and security. If you are ever to recover from the devastation, you must change your perspective on the purpose of suffering.
The Reality & Purpose of Suffering
As a Christian, I am well aware that Jesus suffered greatly for me. The purpose of my suffering is to show others the manner in which Jesus suffered for me. The apostle Paul was very familiar with suffering. Sometimes we look at his monumental contributions to Christianity while forgetting that his life was filled with more suffering than seems fair for someone so radically devoted to Jesus. He was physically beaten, imprisoned for years, shipwrecked and ultimately killed. Yet he writes,
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”
2 Cor 4:8-10 NLT
How Will You Handle Suffering?
It raises the question, “How well will you handle suffering?” God promises four things in Paul’s statement above: 1. You will not be crushed; 2. You will not be driven to despair; 3. God will never abandon you; and 4. Your suffering will not destroy you. Jesus overcame the finite reality of death when He was raised from it. Your spouse can take everything from you, but not the reality that one day you will spend eternity with God in a place where there is no more suffering.
I believe that Jesus wants to raise your marriage from death to new life again. That is no small task, right? However, as Oswald Chambers points out,
“God does not ask us to do things that He is unable to equip us to accomplish.” -My Utmost for His Highest
Will you suffer as Jesus did for the Father? Will you suffer for your spouse even when it’s not fair. Will you suffer for your marriage when you weren’t the one that destroyed it? Will you suffer for the sake of your children? Will you adopt an attitude of humility and service? These are the piercing questions we must ask in the face of the evil that has been done to us. To do so, you must keep the promises of God in front of you.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.” Psalms 34:18-19 NLT
How To Suffer Well
Jesus completely sacrificed Himself and His desires to finish the mission of going to the cross to die for you and me. Many times He could have opted out when the trial seemed too great. But He didn’t. He suffered through it for a greater purpose. That purpose was to reclaim what was lost by demonstrating the kind of love God has for us. Yes, your marriage has been lost through adultery and now you need to reclaim it.
God’s kind of love is so self-sacrificing that we can scarcely comprehend it. We are to be completely emptied of ourselves. It is a selfless love, not selfish. We see the apostle Paul take joy in his suffering for the sake of the Gospel and others. How do we get to this mindset? How do we express the same unconditional love with reckless abandon (which we would use to protect our children) and give it freely to a spouse who so deeply hurt us? The answer: only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Over these past fifteen months many people have asked, “How are you still together with her?” My answer, “Only by God’s strength.” So back to my original question: “How well will you handle suffering in overcoming adultery?” If for nothing else, suffer in a manner that reflects the attitudes and demonstrates the love of Jesus.
“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19 NLT
You simply can’t go wrong or lose by doing what is right in God’s eyes. God will bless you for that.