God gave free will, but He also hates divorce so why does He not override free will to force a straying spouse home?
When a spouse leaves, there is often a strong desire to bring him back. The pain of being left is so great that it can cause powerful physical reactions such as incessant shaking, the inability to eat, hair loss, and more. The need to make that pain go away and the intensity of the loss can cause the abandoned spouse to want to do anything to get their loved one back.
That need often includes the abandoned spouse wishing she could force the departed spouse to return by imposing her will over the sinning spouse’s God-given free will.
What We Know About Divorce
Society knows divorce causes heartache and poverty. Physicians know it causes stress and health issues. Schools know it causes an increased risk of child abuse, lowered achievement, and the inability to focus. Churches know it causes a loss of faith. Law enforcement knows it increases anger. Despite all this, no one forces a straying spouse to return home. Why not?
Why Not Force the Straying Spouse to Return?
Many people today forget God gave free will. They feel they don’t have choices. They have adopted a “poor-me” attitude. Thinking there is no choice only serves to reinforce that attitude. In reality, each of us has free will, but we often prefer to play the victim, refusing to see where forks in the road could have led us to different paths, different outcomes.
When a straying spouse refuses to see forks he has missed, we cannot force him down paths of our choosing. He does not know these paths even exist. Because of a straying spouse’s refusal to acknowledge his own free will, there is little any of us can do to ask him to make a better choice.
Think about our powerful court system and how free will applies to child support. How often do single mothers give up fighting for child support? How often do children grow up in poverty when the straying spouse refuses to pay what is ordered – never mind what is actually needed – because he imposes his free will, his greed and desire over what his children need to survive?
The court system says enforces child support, but many noncustodial parents use their free will to get paid in cash, to cut back on how much work they do, or to fail to pay support at all? The court’s response is to impose fines, imprisonment, or a loss of driver’s license, but none of these override the free will of the noncustodial parent or force the payment of child support if he decides to hide money and assets in another’s name hide out or drive without a license.
Free will is an incredibly powerful force, a greater force than one we can override.
Why Doesn’t God Force Your Spouse to Return?
One of the most difficult things about being abandoned is reconciling your faith in the existence of a good, loving, all powerful God. How often have you heard, “God hates divorce,” (adopted from Malachi 2:16).
Read Malachi again and think about Chapter 2 verses 13-17. What is actually said? Twice that small section states, “You must safeguard life that is your own.” The Lord makes it abundantly clear that only we will be able to safeguard our own lives. He will not do it for us.
This does not mean that the Lord is incapable of overriding free will and safeguarding our lives or that He does not care, but simply that we have been given a choice about how we will choose to live. Since Adam and Eve, God has loved us enough to give us the free will to choose whether to follow Him or follow evil.
Divorce is not from God and therefore divorce is evil, but returning to marriage must be a choice freely made by the straying spouse just as offering forgiveness must be a choice freely made by the victimized spouse.
If God loves you enough to offer you free will, who are you to demand that He use His power to override your spouse’s free will and force him to return?
So God Gave Free Will to You – Why?
You want your marriage to work out. More than almost anything, you want to believe in the happily ever after you were promised. You miss the closeness, the affection, the teasing, the laughter, the good times, the belief that you were worth something, the loss of friendship, and so much more that cannot be put into words. You desperately wanted this marriage to work out. Does that mean nothing to your Father?
Actually, it means a lot. God knows the pain you are in and how badly that pain hurts. He wanted all that and more for you too, but He will not force your will (or His) on your spouse. What He will do is allow his grace and love to fill you again – if you choose to let Him.
This is where your free will comes in. You can choose to allow the Lord to fill your life again with hope and love. It does not come easily, but it does come if you choose to not give up on Him, if you choose to keep praying and loving.
It has been said, you need to only ask God for something once and He will give you what you need. It may not be exactly what you ask for, but it will be what you need in His time. This is true, but you must keep praying, not to keep reminding God, but to keep reminding yourself that God is working for you and that you have chosen to stand with Him.
At the same time, be aware of how you ask the Lord for what you need. Continue to the end of Malachi 2:17 and read, “You have wearied the Lord with your words…By your saying, ‘Every evil doer is good in the sight of the Lord and he is pleased with him,’ or else, ‘Where is the just God?’”
God by no means condones divorce, and society is too quick to excuse the offender. This statement in Malachi makes it clear that God knows the pain of divorce and that the divorcing spouse is acting in a way that is not pleasing to God. No excuse for an evil doer pleases the Lord. At the other extreme are those who want instant justice. They sin by questioning God’s sense of compassion and justice.
Your free will cannot force your spouse to return, but you can use it to either excuse the behavior, to blame and question God, or to be filled with his spirit and reflect the many good things he has put in your life. It is your choice, your free will.
CHALLENGE: God gave free will as a gift God to you. How will you choose to use and display that gift?