A couple of weeks ago I took my daughter to a play at a local university, “By the Skin of our Teeth”, by Thornton Wilder. I had looked forward to it, plays there are always fun. And it was pretty funny, until the end of Act 2. Out of the blue, the main man is seduced by the leading lady to leave his wife and children for her. She stops the play (this has been happening throughout) to say she’s not going to do this scene and argues with the director about it, because her friend is in the audience, and her friend’s husband just left her after however many years and she’s not going to subject her to this on stage. Of course there is an actress in the audience who falls apart and runs out of the theater. We sat transfixed. It wasn’t funny anymore, it was all too real. The scene closed with the Flood coming and the man hunting for his wife and family and getting on the boat with them. The leading lady also got on the boat as the servant of the family, the role she played throughout the play. The curtain closed, I still couldn’t move. The intermission came and the audience chattered and moved around and still I sat transfixed. Finally the thought came to me that in the end, the man on stage returned to his family. Their family survived. That’s not going to happen for us.
Unexpected reminders like this in the midst of what I thought would be an entertaining escape seem to come often. Divorce is common in our culture, and not necessarily viewed as the evil that Believers associate it with. Divorce is a part of marriage, as death is a part of life, and laughing about it helps - unless you happen to be in the middle of it.
But God didn’t design marriage to be that way. Divorce happens due to sin, and it wasn’t the original design. Marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ and the church. Something permanent. Something sacred. A promise never broken.
Yet here I am, in the middle of a life of broken promises. I hurt for myself, for the loss of the future, for the tainted memories of the past. I hurt for my own sin and inadequacies, and for the betrayal of his sin. I hurt for the pain and anger in my children, and for my grandchildren who will not see the stability of a lifetime marriage. I hurt because I will not be able to be the full time grandmother I dreamed of being, I will be at work.
Somehow I sat through the last act, and I am glad I did. The play written just 10 years after the Great Depression and in the midst of WWII, and as a whole was about the survival of the human race. No matter what comes, the Fall, the Ice Age, the Flood, the War, man survives. Not entirely intact, because there is the son Henry (Cain), who consistently seeks to destroy throughout the play, but the family survives and moves on with each disaster.
And so shall I, because God promises healing to His children. He promises to make all things work together for not only His Glory, but for my good, and the good of my children, and the good of the church. He is indeed Sovereign, and this place of exile and wandering in the desert is His Plan for me right now. But the Promised Land is just over the horizon. I can look back and see Him in the path I have already traveled, and I can look forward and see the future Hope of His Promise in His Words in Scripture, and I trust Him.
My broken marriage may not be the picture of Christ and His church that it should be. But the very pain of the broken promises points me to a Faithful Father and Bridegroom, who will never break His Promises, who will never leave me nor forsake me. And I trust Him.
©Rebecca A Givens, 4/10/15