I have been friends of this Christian family for years. The husband (a deacon), left his wife of 32 years for another man. It has totally devastated the wife, their grown children, the church, and their many devoted friends. The poor wife has lost her spouse, income, security as a woman, and even more than I can write here. My heart goes out to this family and I want to know what I can do to comfort them. How and what can I pray for this dear family?
– KR from Musselshell, MT.
Processing the shock (Part 1)
This situation is rocking your world and the world of the wife, children, church and friends of this family because it appears to make a sham of everything all of you believed and held dear. Here they were a Christian couple, in a church where the gospel was being preached, the husband in leadership, and in a long term marriage with children.
Now, to everyone’s shock, the husband is revealed to be homosexual and openly embracing a lifestyle which surely he himself condemned publicly all these years. I’m sure everyone is reeling and I can understand why.
For the husband, there is no shock at all. For him it is probably the culmination of a very long secret struggle and now he has lost his battle. He probably feels a sense of relief that the closet door finally swung open and he will probably feel euphoric for awhile embracing what he thinks is freedom. (Actually, he is in a deeper trap because he no longer even desires to be set free.)
You are asking how you can pray for and comfort this family but I believe you also want to know how to process this event. How can all of you make sense of it? How can it be redeemed and how can everyone involved move forward?
Christian paradox (Part 2)
The Church of Jesus Christ has always operated in something like a paradox as far as the image we project to the world. We are those who have the truth and we are to live as victorious overcomers. We are supposed to be the ones with the answers to life; be salt and light to those who do not yet know the Savior.
How does that gel with being broken people ourselves? We aren’t supposed to have addictions, sin, broken relationships or gripping strongholds. Yet all too frequently we do struggle with those things so how do we handle it? We often cover up, ignore and deny issues we feel would be unacceptable inside church walls. Churches often don’t discuss what they have no idea how to handle. They encourage the Sunday best smile, masking the weeping heart.
Along comes a situation like this one, shattering our core of trust. The wife has been completely betrayed; the children wonder who their father really is; the friends are bewildered and the church is embarrassed and shamed.
After the shock subsides and there is time for grief and processing, everyone involved in this case will have choices to make. Move forward with God or turn away. Grow spiritually or shrink back. Become better or bitter. Become more real and more compassionate or grow disillusioned and cynical.
The support and prayer you supply during this critical time will help determine the outcome.
How to pray (Part 3)
I haven’t a doubt in the world that your compassionate heart will tell you just what to do on a practical level. Your calls, notes of encouragement and emotional support to your friend and her children will all mean so much.
As far as how to pray, I would suggest that you use a two pronged strategy. You can do spiritual battle for both the wife and the husband and try to hold the forces of evil from prevailing any further than they already have.
You can also begin to pray for hope and a new destiny for your friend. She needs a whole new life. She needs to see the Lord as her husband; a husband who will never betray her and who will cover and protect her all the rest of her life. She needs to emerge from this tragedy as a saint of God refined by fire and not a victim wallowing in self pity. Pray toward that end.
As she is ready, challenge her to discover and use her spiritual gifts. Encourage her to reach out to other hurting people because she is better equipped then many, having walked through fire herself. She will have much to offer.
Pray for your church to use wisdom and grace in this situation. This is certainly also a time for the church to grow. Pray it will dust itself off from any denial or hypocrisy which may exist. Pray it will be a place that preaches the gospel uncompromisingly yet will compassionately reach out to people hooked by sin. Pray it will become a spiritual hospital where people GET WELL so they can extend the love of Jesus to others.