I can remember roughly six years ago reading the Old Testament and I paused at one verse in particular. Well, actually, if you’ve sat down and read the Old Testament through I’m sure you’ll agree that you do a lot of stopping and pondering, but the specific verse I’m referring to was in Exodus.
But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses.
Upon first reading I naturally couldn’t understand. Why would God turn the heart of a man against those who He found favor in, like Moses and the Israelites? I mean, He wanted His people to go. Later, God would show me why.
But at the time I thought about it throughout the day off and on as I cleaned house, and somewhere between the bathroom sink and tub I felt the Lord speak to me. Have you ever had situations where God speaks to your spirit and it’s so powerful and certain that you have no doubt it’s His voice? Well, I’ve had this happen several times over the years, and this was one of those times. The thing was, in my human mind it made no sense what He said. It didn’t seem to coincide with things I had learned so far in my Christian walk, yet for some reason it just resonated with my spirit as true. I’ll try to explain.
As I stood scrubbing my bathroom I felt the Lord impress strongly upon me, “I hardened his heart. I changed it.”
I knew immediately what He was referring to. Although, at the time, it was about four years since my divorce, I had recently begun having trouble with it. I hated that it bothered me! After all, I had gotten remarried to a wonderful man, and we had started a beautiful family. I was incredibly happy; I had no doubt, yet some strange part of me felt bad about my divorce. I did believe divorce to be a sin, but I had confessed to the Lord my fault in that relationship. I suppose a large part of my pain from my divorce resided in the fact that I felt rejected and unworthy. My ex-husband had come home one day and proclaimed he did not love me anymore.
Anytime you become one flesh with someone you make soul ties that are not easily broken. I had spent years working through the release of this relationship, but what remained was a broken piece of myself that felt I was the kind of woman worth leaving. It had wounded me deeply, following in the heart-steps of my biological father’s abandonment of me, and while I need you to understand that I’m not trying to play the victim card here, I am laying out honestly how my human heart felt after these broken relationships.
So when I felt the Lord tell me that He had hardened my ex-husband’s heart it was like a weight lifted from my shoulders. In that moment I felt a peace about the divorce I had never experienced before, and I have never experienced any sadness or regret about the relationship since. At that moment I gave it completely to Jesus, and I’ve never tried to take the pain back.
You might have a raised eyebrow right now and be asking, “but why would God tell your husband to divorce you?! That’s not Biblical!” And I agree with you. It’s not. The Lord didn’t tell my ex to ask me for a divorce. He made that decision all on his own. But I am of the belief that the Lord did intervene for my life similar to how He worked with pharaoh.
Back to the Old Testament. The thing is, Pharaoh was never gonna let God’s people go. He hardened his own heart towards them multiple times. God knew what Pharaoh was going to do before Pharaoh did. God simply hastened along what the man had in his heart already, for the purposes of His will.
Now, I’m not saying my ex is like Pharaoh, but I am saying this. I do not believe I entered into the marriage seeking God’s will, and I certainly had turned my back to Him at the time. I was living outside of God’s will for my life, and while I don’t believe God would tear apart my marriage (since He is against divorce), I do believe that when he saw my ex-husband’s heart was headed that way, He worked the disaster that was ensuing to His kingdom purposes. My ex was unhappy. He had told me so a year prior to our divorce. He had refused counseling, and rather than us floundering through the unhealthy and damaging, eventual destruction, I believe God hardened that man’s heart to me the rest of the way.
In the midst of the pain of my broken marriage I turned back to God, as human hearts often do in times of trial. I’m slightly ashamed it took such a thing to make me cry out to Him, but I’m grateful He used it to begin bringing me back to the plans He had for my life all along.
So what’s the purpose of this post? Am I preaching? Certainly not. No theologian here, for sure. Am I sharing brokenness, and how I believe that God worked what the devil meant for my harm to His good? Absolutely. You might not agree, and you don’t have to. It’s between the Lord and me what He fulfills in my life. But if you find yourself in a tough spot right now, under condemnation rather than conviction, or under self-loathing rather than seeing yourself worthy in His sight, then I hope this might help you in some small way. Because even in the midst of your worst struggles, biggest failures, and most trying times, God is there. He directs paths, heals hurts, and brings beauty from the ashes for those who turn to His mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
He might even harden a heart if He needs to.
Mary Anne Hatch says
Having a an almost ex-husband with a hardened heart I can truly feel/understand/sympathize with your post knowing God allowed the hardening for His greater purposes. Even through this post He is using is for good. God bless you!
Thank you so much. God bless you!
Mary Anne Hatch says
oops sorry for the typos!
Jamie Gossett says
Thank you so much for this blog post. I believe something similar happened in bringing my husband and I together. A heart needed hardened. It has always caused me to wonder if God could or even would do something like that, but I know in my heart of hearts that my husband and I were brought together by God. Even today, 7 years later and some very very hard times, (maybe mostly hard times), I still believe that it was part of God’s will. So thank you for sharing your experience and articulating what I have felt for a long time.
Lisa Pierce says
Thank you so much for this post Brie! My husband walked out on me almost three years ago. He was a very bitter and verbally abusive man toward me and a gentle, helpful creature to everyone else. I tried to be a good wife to him and prayed daily for help. Perhaps God hardened his heart toward me because he was destroying my prior Spirit-filled life. I have been at peace with the break-up after laying my burdens of guilt, rejection and all the other stuff down at the Lords feet. This post was something I needed to hear and makes so much sense. God bless you Brie!
I’m so glad it helped you today.
Ebony Holton says
I thank God for you and this post Brie! You put words and understanding to something that I couldn’t quite understand last year when I was going through my divorce with my ex-husband. Fast forward to now this very moment I get it and I receive this message! Thank you Lord for your peace that surpasses all understanding!
So glad this spoke to you.