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Insights from a Wounded Heart

I always dreaded the thought of living single–partly out of fear and partly because I never had lived alone. One evening while I was sitting in a swing outside our country home enjoying a good book, my husband approached, sat down beside me and said, “Suzie, I have sought council with a lawyer and I want a divorce.” I felt numb–speechless! After 21 years of marriage, I was about to experience the very thing I feared most–my first days of a journey into loneliness and darkness. After praying and fighting to keep my marriage alive, four months after our 22nd anniversary, the divorce was final.

My dreams broken, I vowed to overcome my heartbreak.

Realistically, I had to start over on my own. I had never supported myself. I had never experienced time by myself, the pain that gripped and confused me, fear of the future, or the cold lonely nights that seemed longer and longer as time crept on.

One evening as storm clouds brewed in the sky, I could hold back tears no longer. I wanted to scream and cry–I was so angry with God! I picked up my bed pillow, and went out onto my upstairs apartment patio leaning against the sliding glass door, I slid down onto the cold concrete and let go. Tears flowed and I talked between sobs. I asked God question after question, told Him how I felt about Him, my ex-husband, and my future. God listened. Then I sensed Him saying to me, “My daughter, I’m here with you. I feel your pain. I was also rejected, not by one but by many. I was alone in my most critical hour of need. Just as these clouds are moving by you and the thunder crashes loudly in your ears–this storm will pass. Just trust me, I’m right here with you. You’re really not alone.”

I took Him at His word. The next five years became the most significant spiritual lessons of my life as He taught me so gently about Him, my life, and life in general. I actually began to enjoy being alone–the quiet became a sanctuary where He allowed me to slow down and really see through His eyes. I took walks alone and found new places and ways to worship and spend quiet time with Him daily. The words and prayers of my daily journal will become a legacy to my children of how I came through the valley of darkness to a rich new life of healing and transformation.

In time, a friend at work encouraged me to meet a man in her church. Within four months we knew we were in love and wanted to share our lives together. He was God’s answer to my prayer for a spiritual leader. We prayed together and talked of God often. He led nightly devotionals and prayers with his two sons and included me in this special time when I was there.

There was only one major concern. His cancer, which had been in remission, had returned. Could I deal with the possibility of losing love a second time? Remembering the cancer experience my father had dealt with years before and had survived–despite the odds–I felt sure that God could work a miracle again. My optimism became part of my fiancé’s hope and strength.

We set our wedding date and began to pray that God would use us together in ministry, either in a divorce recovery group or in a cancer survivor network. God has been so good to us by bringing us together and healing our broken hearts through His love. We had great expectations of serving Him out of our grateful hearts.

The wedding was simple and very intimate. A short honeymoon not too far from home followed. In a week’s time, we were home for my husband’s bone marrow transplant. His siblings’ bone marrow had not matched, but a man who had been on the bone marrow donor list for 13 years matched closely enough. He wrote us that he had been married a long time, but he and his wife were never able to conceive. He felt this transplant was his way of perpetuating his life. What a beacon of hope for us! Surely God wouldn’t allow this man to go so many years and then give a gift of life that would be rejected. Even finding this donor took only six weeks–the normal waiting period is at least six months. God was encouraging us with hope all along the way.

The day of the transplant came. We were thankful for the gift of life from another, yet dreading the days ahead when we knew my husband would be so sick. There were days of uncertainty, fear, and pain. Yet there was also a deep sense of peace that God was in control.

Once he was released from the hospital, daily return trips for blood tests, transfusions and medication became necessary. My husband was teaching me so much about endurance through suffering. He was always sweet and never complaining. Through each stage of recovery he accomplished more than expected. Then one night at home he collapsed while getting up around 2 a.m. He was too weak to get up and too difficult for me to lift, so I called 911 and an ambulance transported him to the hospital. After a week he was home again, but we both knew he was getting weaker day by day.

During a routine daily treatment at the hospital, he collapsed once again. Admitted to the hospital, he was never able to return home with me again. He slipped into a coma and went to his heavenly home a couple of weeks later. I was glad he would not suffer any more, but was so confused that God allowed him to die. An autopsy showed no cancer. The bone marrow transplant had been successful. Liver dysfunction and kidney failure were the cause of death. Because his immune system was not yet sufficiently restored, healing couldn’t take place.

I was not angry, just terribly disappointed. Now, not only had I been divorced, but after a second marriage of only 10 weeks, I was a widow at the age of 43. “God, what are you doing in my life? What are you trying to teach me?”

My deceased husband had two sons, ages 8 and 11. My heart broke for them. I wanted to continue to see them every other weekend and their mother was supportive of that decision. I continued to have devotionals and prayers with them each night they were with me. We attended their home church they loved so much. They enjoyed coming back to dad’s house. We talked of their father, wrote letters to him, and visited his grave often.

This continued for 21/2 years, during which time their mother introduced me to a man from her church. He was her Sunday school teacher and was just recovering from a long and painful divorce. He, too, had two sons, ages 6 and 7. We began to date and share our love of God and lessons learned through hurtful losses. I discovered that he had been praying for me during my second husband’s illness. He also had been praying for my stepchildren whom he knew through their mother. It was easy for us to talk and share our feelings. His mother had lost three husbands to death–her second marriage lasted only 10 weeks as mine had. He understood all I had endured because he had watched his own mother persevere. Within three months, we told each other of our love and of our desire to make plans for marriage. Eight months later we flew to Hawaii and were married in a beautiful garden setting.

God is once again working his wonderful plan in my life. By stripping me of what I loved and worshipped most–my first husband–He taught me the fragility of marriage and the importance of putting God in His rightful place. After relinquishing my smashed idol and submitting to whatever He had in store for me, God gifted me with a second husband through whom He taught me the fragility of this earthly life. Then, with the blessing of a third husband, He has proved His lavishness by pouring out blessings and pleasures that continue to amaze me. You see, I’m a modern day story of Job. He has restored to me three times what I initially lost: two more husbands, three times the children, and three times the financial resources I once had.

God does hear our heart’s cries. He does keep His word. He does honor our obedience. He does for us“...immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine...” (Ephesians 3:20).

(Suzie Harris is an inspirational speaker for Stonecroft Ministries and a freelance writer from Cedar Hill, Texas.)

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20040301
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Jul-Sep 2004. CCMUSA.