“You don’t know the situation.”
These were my friend’s words as he broke the news to me that he was leaving his wife after more than 20 years of marriage.
His implication was that their marriage–their “situation”–was simply too horrible for me to understand. Because, surely, my marriage is as smooth-sailing as it appears on the surface, unlike his, which apparently had rip currents underneath that he and his wife had hidden for years.
I do not doubt the existence of those rip currents. If their marriage had been the placid lake it had appeared to be, there would not have been a divorce. More than that, I do not doubt those rip currents because I believe we all have them in varying degrees.
So, after my friend said those words, I just sat there, no response coming quickly enough to my mind or to my lips. I believe I said something lame, like, “No, I suppose I don’t.”
Roughly eight months later, I finally have my response. I cannot give it to my friend directly, because he has since decided that I am no longer, and never really was, his friend, so he turns his head away when we drive by each other on the street (as we did just yesterday afternoon).
But if I had the chance for a do-over, this is what I would say (much of which I’ve paraphrased from Beth Moore’s study of Daniel):
I do not doubt that your situation is difficult. I do not doubt that you have experienced pain that I can never fully comprehend. But do not assume that your situation is hopeless. Do not–please–do not forget the God you serve.
When Daniel was tossed into the lion’s den, the stone was placed over the opening to the den and the king sealed it with his signet ring and those of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation could not be changed.
When Jesus was laid in the tomb, the stone was rolled in front of the doorway and armed guards were stationed on either side, so that Jesus’ situation could not be changed.
All seemed hopeless. And then morning came.
You, my dear friend, do not have the situation that God cannot change. Wait for the morning.