So I’ve got this really fun app on my phone called Timehop. It allows you to see your status updates and photos from this exact day in history. I love checking to see what I was up to three or four years ago. The photographic displays of how fast my kids are growing up are NOT fun, however.
Usually, my posts are light, sometimes funny even. But for me, five years ago, life was not light – or funny. Five years ago, my second marriage was crumbling. Just three months into it, my husband was done. Marriage “wasn’t for him” and he wanted me out. My kids and I packed our bags and moved back in with my parents.
I’d done this once before. Landed back on the doorstep of my parents after a failed marriage. I just couldn’t believe I was doing it a second time. I thought this one had a better chance – I really did. Those first few weeks, I held on to hope that he’d change his mind. I wanted him to see that the grass wasn’t, in fact, greener on the other side. That while I wasn’t perfect, I at least knew how to love through the difficulties.
I prayed a LOT. I prayed for God to soften his heart and for a miraculous testimony to come out of my heartache. But I soon realized that my husband was not a willing participant for change, and for God to really move in someone’s life, they need to WANT it. Free will and all that.
After a little over a month of constant prayer for reconciliation, I felt the still small voice of the Lord tell me that it was okay to let go. It was tough because I knew the pain of divorce was ahead of me, but I felt a tremendous peace. During my devotional time one morning, I came across a scripture that had me once again feeling hopeful. I immediately posted it to my Facebook to encourage anyone else who might have needed to hear it.
The King James version says it this way:
Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee.
Let me break this down for you a little with some context and meaning so that you can see how God’s Word met me in my place of pain.
Who the heck is Zechariah?
Zechariah is one of the most messianic of all Old Testament prophets, speaking often of the coming of Christ. The exiles that returned to their homeland were among the poorer of the Jewish captives. They quickly rebuilt the altar and began construction on the temple. Soon, however, they were met with opposition from the neighboring Samaritans and lost their drive to finish what they started. Because of this, the Samaritans were able to get an order from the Persian government to halt construction. This lasted for TWELVE YEARS.
Imagine starting construction on your dream house and your cranky neighbor complains so often that you lose sight of your goal and become lazy. That neighbor then complains to the homeowner’s association who then steps in and says, “Well you obviously aren’t serious about this, so we aren’t letting you finish. Go find somewhere else to live.”
That’s essentially what happened here.
So my man Zechariah steps in and urges the people to return to the Lord, repent of their laziness, and restore the ruined temple. He did this by pointing them to a day when the Messiah would rule from a restored temple in a restored city. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about Jesus. And what is Jesus all about? RESTORATION.
So how does this apply to me???
I knew what that pain was like – the pain God’s people felt when their temple was destroyed. My marriage was over and my children and I were displaced – not just physically, but emotionally. I was brokenhearted and as much as I wanted to lie down and cry and then sleep for a good six months, the Lord had other plans for me. It was not His plan for me to live in a pit of depression. My kids needed me, and God still had purpose for my life, despite what many people were saying about me (given the fact that I now had TWO failed marriages under my belt).
So in this scripture I found my marching orders, followed by a promise.
1. The command: Return to your fortress/stronghold.
The definition of a stronghold is “a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack”. As much as I hated the fact that I had to swallow my pride and move back in with my parents, it was all a part of God’s divine protection for me and my kids. I was in for a fight during my divorce and my family was the very thing I needed to help guard my heart against the attack it would endure during that process. They were a very present comfort during many painful days in the beginning, and I couldn’t have survived without them.
I not only returned home to my parents, but I returned home to the Lord – in my heart. The beginning of my relationship with my second husband marked a time when my relationship with God was pretty non-existent. If I was going to rebound from this great loss and heartache, it would require my complete surrender to God’s plan for my life. And so that’s exactly what I did. I said the words that changed the course of my life and renewed my faith: “Not my will, Lord, but Yours”.
2. The promise: I will restore twice as much to you.
This was the part that I couldn’t see at the time, but the portion of the scripture that got me through. I’d been a Christian long enough to know that God’s promises are never empty ones. I knew that I’d see this come to pass, and if I could just hang on during the storm, I’d receive my double portion one day.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet my double portion.
When God says He’s going to restore – He means it. And you know what? He didn’t stop at “double”. Every day that I choose to trust in Him and follow Him, He rewards my diligence. My blessings are so abundant that I’ve stopped counting.
If you’re hurting today, for whatever reason, there’s hope. Lay down your life to the One who promises to not only comfort you in your loss and grief – but the One who will restore.
I am living proof.