by Mike Genung
In the book of Job, we find a man going through one of the most horrific trials in the Bible. God allows Satan to attack Job; he loses his business, employees, finances, and children within hours. Job doesn’t curse or blame God, so Satan complains that Job still hasn’t been tested enough. God allows Satan to have another shot at Job, with the restriction that he can’t kill him, and Job is hit with painful sores from head to toe. Now Job’s severe emotional distress from grieving the loss of his children and friends (“My face is red with weeping,” Job 16:16) is compounded with physical pain.
Now that Job has been struck with the full force of Satan’s attacks, the crisis point comes. How will Job respond? Will he see God as evil, blame Him, and turn away in bitterness? Will he collapse in despair and give up? Or will he cling to his faith that God is kind, loving and merciful, in spite of the hell that Job knows God has allowed him to endure.
Job’s initial response after the first attack wave amazes me: Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” Job 1:20-22
Job’s three friends enter the scene. It would have been better if they didn’t. They insist that Job deserved his trials (not unlike when a wife gets blamed for her husband’s porn addiction) because of sin, and Job is forced to go on the defensive at a time when he needs support and encouragement. Job expresses pain, confusion, and fear: he accuses God of “destroying man’s hope” (Job 14:19), asks God to “stop frightening me with your terrors” (13:21), and says “I will surely defend my ways to His face” (13:15). Job also questions God’s mercy when he says “Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?”
In spite of Job’s frustration, he continues to express faith in God when he says, “But He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (23:10).
The test many wives of porn/sex addicts will face is not unlike Job’s. One day she learns that the man she married isn’t who she thought he was; their marriage is a sham. Her crisis point comes when she realizes that God has given her a sex addict for a husband. The man she thought was her best friend is an adulterer; God, who knows everything, gave him to her.
Her moment of crisis is not about her husband, or her pain, but her relationship with the Lord. How will she react once she understands that God gave her a sex addict as a life-mate? This may be one of the most dangerous moments of her life, for if she allows bitterness or despair to take over and permanently engulf her heart, she’s at risk of ship-wrecked faith. What she does with her heart and her relationship with the Lord is critical.
Let me ask you a question: If your husband never recovered from porn/sex addiction and your marriage ended in divorce, what would it do to your relationship with God? Would you see Him as cruel for giving you the husband He did, shut your heart down, and withdraw from Him? Or would you cling to Him with more intensity than before?
One of the benefits of Job’s trials was that his false beliefs about God and life were burned off, mainly, that if good people do good things then nothing bad will happen to them. Jesus guaranteed suffering for Christians when He said that “in the world you have tribulation” (John 16:33). The church of today likes to keep everything “positive and encouraging,” but they do a great disservice to those in pain when they portray life as a joyful adventure that always has a happy ending. The tragic truth is that many marriages don’t make it.
Satan accuses God to man and man to God. He accused man to God when he complained that Job’s protected life left him with little reason to doubt God. He will accuse God to you when he whispers “God knew your husband was a sex addict when He dumped that jerk on you. Would a loving God do that? How can you trust Him?”
Our enemy “steals, kills and destroys” (John 10:10). He’ll do anything to keep you floundering in despair or seething in anger; he wants to upend the apple cart of your faith because he knows that without God, there is no hope. Those without hope are most prone to doing things that will be destructive to themselves and others.
The key is to know the truth about who God is.
God is your creator. He loves you passionately. He also loves your husband.
He gave His life for you on the cross. (John 3:16).
He wants to help you (Hebrews 4:16).
He values your marriage (see Your Marriage is a Big Deal to God).
He doesn’t want anyone to fall away from Him (2 Peter 3:9).
He came that you might have abundant life (John 10:10).
You are his daughter (1 John 3:2).
God is not your enemy, Satan is. (John 10:10).
God is merciful. (Psalms 145:8)
God has promised He will never leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6).
We learn from Job that in spite of all of God’s goodness and mercy, there will be hardship and suffering in this life. We also see that God has a bigger purpose than we can know. The book of Job has been used to minister to many over the centuries, including me. I can’t help wondering if what Job went through was more about who God would minister to through Job’s story than Job. I’m glad the Bible reaches me where I am when I’m hurting. It tells me there’s a purpose for my trials and that they’re no accident (1st Peter 4:12). God has a purpose for you and your husband; there’s a reason for what you’re going through. You probably don’t see it today, but God is working, and He’s not freaked out about what your husband is doing.
Here comes the hard part: just as Job lost his children when God allowed Satan to attack, there’s no guarantee your marriage will make it. Your husband has 100% free will to get help, or he can choose to give himself to the false god of lust and face the consequences. This may be difficult to accept if you struggle with control issues or are desperate to see your husband change, but the good news is you can find peace in the midst of the raging storm if you’re willing to surrender your life to Him.
Complete surrender doesn’t mean turning passive. It is taking wise, appropriate action and releasing the results to the Lord, such as:
* Setting firm boundaries with your husband. All porn should be off limits in your house, as should any contact with other women that are a snare to him. If he can’t agree to this then he’s not committed to your marriage.
* Demanding that your husband get help, and then stepping back and giving him the space to do so.
* Going to counseling together and/or individually.
I can’t encourage you enough to seek God every day through His word and prayer. To know God’s character we must ground ourselves in the truth. This is a must if you are to stand firm when the enemy comes at you with his lies.
If you cling to God in spite of the pain of your husband’s betrayal, you will discover several secret blessings:
1. God will become your first love. When we make spouses or children the source of life we always end up empty because other people can’t meet all our needs, especially those that are meant only for God. Getting hurt has a way of forcing us to look to God for that which only He can provide, which is deep, lasting acceptance, love, and peace.
2. You will know God. One question we hear often is “how could a loving God allow evil in the world?” The insinuation is that if God allows evil then He must be too. Job could have asked “God why did you allow Satan to kill my servants and children?!” Perhaps your question is “Why did you give me my husband?” As Job learned, God answers the “why” with who He is (see Job 38-42). Here’s the answer to the question: Every man has free will, which means there are many tragedies in this life; there’s also a spiritual battle going on that we cannot see. We don’t know the “why,” but we can bank on the fact that God is merciful, gracious, kind and loving, and we can come to His throne of grace anytime for help because we are His children. Once you know God, knowing the “why” matters less.
but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:24
Note: God answers “what” questions, such as “what is the next step I should take?” or “what do you want me to learn from what I’m going through?” When the apostle Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, the Lord told him to enter the city where Paul would be given the next step. If you ask, listen, and wait for the answer, God will lead you, one step at a time.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
3. You will discover that the Lord has used the trials with your husband’s sin to purify and strengthen you. God uses suffering to draw us near to Him, burn off fear, apathy and pride, and produce humility, compassion for others, and new perspective. Regardless of the outcome, if you let God have control, you’ll wake up one day and realize He’s changed you.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3
4. Your faith will be revitalized. As God meets you where you are, speaks to you, and guides you, you’ll understand that you’re His daughter, He loves you, and wants a relationship with you. Here again the “why” will matter much less because your faith in the Lord has become so strong that you trust Him no matter what happens.
5. You will struggle less with fear. Faith is the opposite of fear. When we know that God has our life in His hands and loves us, fear takes a backseat. You will be stronger and more confident because you know that nothing can separate you from His love, and His Spirit of power, love and sound mind resides in you (2 Timothy 1:7).
I encourage you to read through the books of 1st Peter and Job. 1st Peter hits on the topic of suffering and how we should handle it, and God can minister to your heart and provide wisdom through the story of Job.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 1 Peter 4:12-13