When Happily Ever After Ends
by: Joette Knapp
Happily ever after sometimes ends. Divorce happens to the most “Christian” among us. I know it’s not what you wanted when you walked down the aisle…I didn’t either. But for one reason or another-you’re happily ever after ended. Now you wear the label “Divorced”, “Abandoned”, and maybe even “Unfaithful.” Sometimes you wonder if that shame and guilt will ever go away. Divorced might be a label you are forced to carry …but it’s not one God defines you by. I know this because of the beautiful story of the woman at the well.
In John 4:3-29 is a poignant story simply titled “Jesus & the Samaritan Woman.” At first glance the issues of Jew vs. Samaritan, and even man vs. woman, are the themes that are the most prevalent. But dig a little deeper and you will see that another theme emerge. John tell us that this woman was married five times and was currently living with a man who wasn’t her husband. This woman was divorced! Multiple times! This is significant to the lesson Jesus wants to teach us or it wouldn’t have been included.
To anyone who has gone through divorce this is an amazing and pivotal Scripture passage! Divorce is one of the most painful experiences one can face. It is not just the loss of the marriage and the destruction of the family, but the shame and guilt that accompanies it can be completely overwhelming. A divorced person is often looked upon as a failure. They are forced to wear label NO ONE wants to wear.
This woman wasn’t just divorced once…she was divorced 5 times! At a glance you might think there is some obvious flaw with this woman. What you don’t see is the culture and the back story of this woman. During this time a husband could divorce a wife for ANY reason. All he had to say was “I divorce you” three times and she was out on the streets. Woman were nothing more than property so she had to find someone else to marry if she was ever going to have enough food to survive and a roof over her head. She was abandoned. She was hopeless. She was a desperate woman.
Jesus knew this. He knew the pain in her heart. He knew her story! Jesus knew everything about this woman, and the societal norms of the day, yet He had compassion for her. He could have ignored her but He didn’t, He loved her, warts & all. He helped her understand who He was and what believing in Him was all about. And she believed in Him! The Samaritan woman was validated despite each failed marriage, she was forgiven for the immoral life she was living, and she was loved for who she was and not what had happened in her life.
Every woman has a story. Every divorcee has a story. Society is quick to judge, point fingers, and place blame. However, the truth is divorce does not define who you are in Christ. If you love the Lord, He has already forgiven you for everything. Jesus does not bring up that issue again.
There is a difference between shame and guilt. Guilt means you did something that you don’t feel good about… It should lead to repentance and restoration with Jesus. Shame means YOU are bad. Jesus never brings shame. The enemy bring shame. Satan wants you to be ashamed of the divorce, which leads you to bitterness, rebellion, and anger.
So what happened to the Samaritan woman after her life-changing encounter with Jesus? Well, she went back to her village and told all the people there about her new Savior. These townspeople who had previously shunned her, listened to what she told them and they became saved. This woman literally saved her whole town with the life changing plan of salvation.
Sometimes happily ever after ends. But, divorce isn’t what defines you. Your story isn’t over. Just that chapter of your life. However, Jesus can take the ashes of our past and turn them all into beauty, just like he did for the woman at the well. He’s the expert of turning messes into miracles!
~ Coach Joette