Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

You Can Provide Clean Water to Persecuted Christians

God Gave Me a Story

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4

It's now been 11 years since my divorce, and closer to 14 years since the entire mess began. Hard to believe so much life has been lived since I thought my world was crumbling around me.

One of the most common criticisms I receive is that I need to put my divorce in the past. Quit talking about it. Get over it. Focus on the here and now.

I totally understand the criticism, and might feel the same way if I wasn't living my life. And, I do talk about where I am today--especially if you know me in real life. Perhaps that's the misconception is that if you only read my blog, you don't really know me.

But, for those who only know me from this venue, I want to share several recent stories. Yes, my divorce was finalized over 11 years ago, but my journey to healing has been well-documented in print. That story continues to have a life of its own.

  • A dear, sweet lady recently reached out to me for coaching. As we've unpacked her current situation, she has begun to see with a fresh perspective. I don't take credit in any way, but instead thank the God of Healing for walking with us through this journey.
  • I am in a prayer group at work. I've shared very small snippets of my story with this precious group of co-workers. Because of my sharing, I've had the opportunity to walk with one lady as she navigates her own situation that is so similar to mine.
  • Even more recently, I was asked to go to lunch. If I'm honest, I really just wanted a quiet lunch by myself to get some work completed, but God had other plans. I knew shortly after we sat down to eat and she told me she had been served divorce papers by her husband.

You see, I don't continue to share about my divorce because I am living in the past; I continue to share about my divorce because God continues to use my story. He has called us to comfort others with the comfort we have received from Him, and I am so thankful He continues to give me opportunity to walk with others through the most painful days of their lives. I am thankful my experiences with divorce can provide support and encouragement to others who are in the throes of divorce themselves.

As I've reflected on this truth, I've realized I must continue sharing. I've felt called to use my story for many years, and I choose to ignore the naysayers who think I need to put my divorce in the past--and leave it there. If I do, won't I be missing out on opportunities to minister to others?

I believe God gave me a story, and that story extends way beyond me. God gave me a story for at least three reasons.

God gave me a story to show me His great love. Several years ago, I happened upon Hosea 6.

“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
    now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
    now he will bandage our wounds.
In just a short time he will restore us,
    so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
    Let us press on to know him. Hosea 6:1-3a

When I read those words, they pierced my heart. How can I know healing if I've never experienced pain? You see, God is faithful always, but it's in the midst of our deepest suffering that we fully experience His goodness. When we have nothing except Him, we discover He is everything we need and more. We are told to count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds because the testing of our faith produces so much within us (James 1:2-3).

We can't fully know and understand God's goodness and love outside of suffering. It is in the suffering that His mercies are so obviously new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), where we see His daily provisions with fresh eyes.

God gave me a story to reflect His faithfulness. While I don't live in the past, I will say that my divorce has shaped me into the person I am today. It changed me completely, gave me a passion for those walking the painful path. I can't help but look at single moms without reliving some of those unbelievably hard and exhausting days.

But you know what? As hard as those days were, I look back now that I'm on the other side and realize just how much fun I experienced. Sure, I remember the total and complete exhaustion from a to-do list that was too much for anyone, but I also remember the joy of experiencing God in all of His glory! He truly was near the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18). It was fun to see the unexpected provisions and kindnesses that could only come from my good, good Father in heaven.

As I look back on those days, I remember His mercies new each and every morning--not the pain and fear. I remember the intimacy with Him that just seemed to get sweeter with every day. I remember the grace that carried me through.

And today, I get to share from a new position--not one of longing for the promised land, but from the Promised Land He has given me. He is faithful!

God gave me a story to encourage others on their journeys. I started this blog post with 2 Corinthians 1:4He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

God doesn't give us healing only for ourselves. He doesn't give us a story to keep to ourselves. We are a body made up of many members, all with different stories.

Where I grew up, we lost at least one teenager every year it seemed, mostly to car accidents. I remember when a young lady in our church died in an accident. One of the first family's to arrive on their doorstep was one who had lost their own son several years earlier. Only a grieving parent can truly grasp the depth of pain and loss.

By the grace of God, I can't minister to someone who has lost a child in the same way I can minister to someone walking through divorce. I can't minister to an addict the way I can minister to someone whose spouse has committed adultery. I can't minister to a couple struggling with infertility the way I can minister to someone struggling as a single parent.

God didn't intend for me to minister to the addict, the parent who has lost a child, the couple struggling with infertility. He intends for me to help those experiencing similar struggles. He allows each of us to have our own story so we minister to others with a similar story. It doesn't mean I can't have empathy for those with different struggles or help carry their burdens, but it does mean I can't grasp their pain the same way I can grasp the pain of those walking through divorce.

I have vowed to fight until my dying breath to help those walking through divorce, to help them understand His faithfulness even in divorce. I experienced enough rejection and pain during my own divorce that I want to be a voice of love and acceptance to others as they struggle with their own self-worth. God has given me a story, and I will be faithful to use it to help others.

Because that's my calling.