Monday night, I received this question on a previous post:
I was wondering if you could recommend your last book ‘the excellent wife’ for someone who’s husband had divorced them and remarried? If not then do you know of any good authors who deal with this situation?
In the last chapter of The Excellent Wife, “The Wife’s Sorrow, Overcoming a Grieving Heart,” Peace gives encouragement to the woman who is sorrowful over the status of her marriage or when her husband commits a sin that devastates her. She mentions divorce, but the chapter is not specifically about divorce. It centers more on how to respond and move forward when one’s heart seems overwhelmed with sorrow. I think divorce certainly falls within those parameters.
Peace makes a distinction between godly sorrow and sinful sorrow, and says that we can know whether our sorrow is godly or sinful by evaluating our responses. If our responses are sinful, then we have sinful sorrow. If we can respond to situations with biblical actions and feelings, then our sorrow is godly.
I think that is an unnecessary distinction. In my mind, sorrow is sorrow. Each of us has our own limit and only God knows what that limit is. He applies the right amount of pressure in the right places to achieve his purposes, and we all respond differently. Our thoughts and actions are sinful or godly, but I do not think our responses define the sorrow.
I’d also like to add that sometimes it is right and godly to be filled with sorrow over sin. And I think it is right and godly to be sorrowful over divorce.
I think that theology is what makes the difference. A robust, biblical understanding of who God is and how He acts is what makes the difference in how we deal with sorrow.
Some people crumble beneath the weight of difficulty in finding a good parking space. They cry, “Oh, God is against me today,” or “I am a Victor!” While others are overwhelmed with sorrow at the loss of a child, but still proclaim, “God is good and He does all things well.”
The difference is theology.
What does Peace say to the woman whose heart is filled with sorrow? She says keep a tight reign on the tongue and seek to overcome evil with good in all you do. She also offers dozens of scriptures.
Surely our griefs He himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Cor. 10:13
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Cor. 10:31
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Luke 6:27
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thess. 5:18
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Peace writes, “Your sorrow will lesson as you seek refuge in God, as you go against your natural feelings, and as you show love to God and your husband.”
That said, I don’t think I’d recommend this book to someone who’s gone through a divorce. This one chapter may be helpful, but there are 20 others that wouldn’t help much. In fact, they may only make your friend feel worse.
I have not read any books that deal specifically with divorce, so I can’t recommend one.
As far as books go, I would recommend A Steadfast Heart: Experiencing God’s Comfort in Life’s Storms by Elyse Fitzpatrick (read my review) and Suffering and the Sovereignty of God edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor (read the Discerning Reader review). Those are the books that come immediately to mind. I’m in the middle of Spectacular Sins: And Their Purpose in the Glory of Christ by John Piper. By the time I’m finished, I’ll probably recommend it as well. I’m only in Chapter 5, but so far Piper has explained how God is sovereign over all things in this world, good and evil (though he is not guilty of evil), and how all things (including sin and evil) have a purpose for the glory of Christ.
I really hope this helps, Sarz. The comments are open for anyone who may have a book recommendation for dealing with divorce.