Dear Esther :: August 15, 2016

Dear Esther,

Let me first state that I know I am a sinner, I’ve perfected the art of sinning I guess you can say. I struggle every day with sin. I do consider myself a Christian.

Let me just get to me. I’m a 55 year old man, been married twice in my life. My first wife ran off on me with a friend of mine while I was serving in the Army overseas in Korea. We divorced in 1993, in 1999 I remarried another woman.

I know this is bad to say but, I wasn’t totally in love with this woman, but she was, and still is a wonderful woman, she really takes good care of my needs. For this, I married her, I figured as time went along, I would grow to love this woman as a husband should love his wife.

Years have passed, we’ve been married now for 17 years, just had our anniversary. But, it’s not been an easy road. I have made mistakes along the way. It has been years, 8 to be precise, since we’ve had a physical relationship. It’s just as much, if not more, my fault than hers. About three years ago, I cheated on her.

This is a shame that hangs over my head even to this day, I have a hard time of forgiving myself for doing this to her. But it just wasn’t a onetime thing, I carried on a relationship with this other woman for some time, two years I must admit.

I have fallen in love with this other woman. That’s a fact, it’s not a lustful attraction, this other woman is everything I’ve ever dreamed I’ve ever wanted in a woman. If I try to tell you the type of connection I have with her it would not even be believable.

I told my wife about the affair, I don’t know what I expected to happen. She took it pretty hard. But you know what, to this day she still stays by my side. It hasn’t been easy for her but she’s still there. I don’t really know why.

My problem is this: I do love my wife. But I have read in the Bible, that we are to love our wives as much as Jesus loves the Church. Like I said, I do love my wife, but I have no passion, no desire for her. Since I’ve told her about the affair, we’ve tried to be intimate, but my heart is just not there.

Yes, I’m still very much in love with this other woman and in my heart, that’s where I want to be. But I also know how divorce is not favored by God, just as adultery, just as lying, I could go on and on of all the sins I’m guilty of. But I cannot change the way I feel.

I love my wife, I hate the thought of hurting her again, and again. I’ve caused her so much pain in the last year, and yeah, it breaks my heart that I have done so.

I have prayed to God, but I hear no answer. I fear that I’m so deep in sin that God has turned away from me. I’m asking God for the path I should take. The other night, my wife, who has very little family told me that she only has her mom, brother, and me in her life. I have a big family, and they are like family to her as well. I also have two grand babies by my first wife.

I ask myself, if I could probably make my wife happy for the rest of my life. I don’t know if I can ever have a physical relationship with her again, that’s a problem. But other than that, I could probably make her happy. But what about me?

Am I to spend the rest of my life being unhappy, making someone else happy? I read once that I’m responsible for my own happiness, I’m not responsible for others happiness. But I have taken responsibility for her happiness.

Does God want me to stay in a relationship for those reasons? Does He want me to sacrifice my life, my happiness for her happiness? Does God want me to be happy? Like I said, I’ll be 56 in a couple of months, I hope to get a good 20 to 30 years left out of my life. I feel if I stay with my wife those years will be shortened.

I’m lost, I’ve turned to God, but I hear nothing. I love God, I want nothing more to be a good servant to God. I want happiness in my life. I want love in my life. I want to be with a woman that I love so very much and want to share with her everything in my life.

I’m lost. I don’t know what or where to go. I pray, but hear nothing. What does God want of me? I know I have brought this all on myself. I can’t go back in time and change anything, I can’t change the way my heart feels. What is to become of me?

Thank you for reading,

Miserably Unhappy

Dear Miserably Unhappy,

I have read your letter a number of times, and I am left wondering what kind of commitment you have to the Lord Jesus. I don’t think any of your problems will be resolved until you decide if you want to fully serve the Lord, which means placing Him first in your life.

This would be a good time to reevaluate your position in Christ. Do you lead your wife in prayer? Do you attend worship services and Bible studies together? Do you spend time with Christian friends who take their faith seriously?

I also think it would be appropriate for you to seek out a male pastor who knows his Bible and speak to him about your concerns. Your issues would be best handled by a strong male pastor or Bible teacher.

It sounds to me like you have a decision to make whether you will die to self and live for Christ or if you will become part of the lukewarm modern Laodicean church. This is what Jesus has to say about that church:

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

I will remind you that this life is very temporary. Do you want to spend eternity with the Lord in a place that is so awesome, that all the “feel good” pleasures of this life cannot even be compared to? Or, do you want to live for the pleasures of this life and risk your eternal destiny?

I understand people change over the years, but I see no reason why your wife should not have your total commitment. You say you love her but have no passion for her. Do you have passion for Jesus Christ? He had passion for you when He allowed Himself to be relentlessly tortured and then hanged on the Roman cross for your sins.

Godly love is not only a feeling. Love is a commitment backed up with action, it is a choice. We choose to indulge in the flesh or we choose to be guided by the Spirit of God.

Yes, men are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. That love is a selfless, sacrificial love. Christ put His Church and all of humanity first and sacrificed for her on the Cross. That is what He expects from a husband—to place his wife before himself.

If you are still cheating on your wife, then you are digging your own grave. You say you have fallen “in love” with the other woman. Even if you are no longer having a physical relationship with her, you are committing adultery in your heart.

Can you really respect a woman that would engage in an affair with a married man (you!)? Could this other woman really respect you knowing you are married but cheating?

If you do not want to live with your wife anymore, then you must be honest. But you must also continue to provide for her monetarily because she has done nothing wrong to warrant a divorce. Seventeen years is a lengthy time to spend with someone you don’t seem to be committed to.

I hope you will chose Christ over your own perceived “needs.” Reading your Bible and getting to a male pastor for counseling is one way to try to get on the right path.

A common mistake many people make is to see how they can fit Jesus and their “faith” into their lives. It should be the other way around. Jesus should come first, and then we automatically make better choices.

The way we live our lives reflects our relationship with the Christ. Unless a renewing of the mind takes place the flesh can take over one’s life to the point where you are right now. A true conversion reaps good fruit.

A true Spirit-filled believer has a changed life of honor and obedience unto the Lord which becomes evident for all to see. “Feelings” change to reflect the Lord’s teachings and a desire to please Him takes precedence above all else.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

Until we genuinely surrender our lives to Christ, and really get what that means, then life will be an ongoing rollercoaster ride. When we don’t know the teachings of Christ and truly apply them to our lives, we can get stuck on ourselves and stuck in a pattern of self-destruction. As believers, it is our responsibility to learn God’s Word.

You have expressed concern that the Lord does not answer your prayers. The Lord can and does turn away from prayers for many reasons.

“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9).

Notice in the Scripture I just cited we learn that God will not honor prayers if we turn away from the truth—by not studying His Word, and getting to know and understand it. Prayer and Bible study go hand in hand. In order to have true fellowship with Jesus, prayer and Bible study are what He asks of His followers.

Reasons for Unanswered Prayer:

1. Refusing to hear truth (Proverbs 28: 9).
2. Refusing to humble one self (2 Chronicles 7:14).
3. Forsaking God 2 (2 Chronicles 15:2).
4. Provoking God (Deuteronomy 3:26).
5. Hardheartedness (Zechariah 7:12-13).
6. Lack of charity (Proverbs 21:13).
7. Regarding iniquity in the heart (Psalm 66:18).
8. Wrong motives (James 4:3).
9. Dishonor of companion (1 Peter 3:7).
10. Unbelief (Matthew 17:20-21; 21:22).
11. Sin (James 4:1-5; John 9:31; Isaiah 59:2).
12. Public flaunting of prayer to appear holy (Matthew 6:5).
13. Vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7).
14. Unforgiveness (Matt. 6:14-15; Mark. 11:25-26).
15. Hypocrisy (Luke 18:9-14).
16. Being discouraged (Luke. 18:1-8).
17. Worry and anxiety (Philippians 4:6).
18. Doubting––double-mindedness (James 1:5-8).
Along with seeking out a good pastor, I strongly recommend that you get very serious about studying and learning the Word of God—so it becomes an intrinsic part of you. You will not be able to play games with yourself and genuinely serve the living God once you really understand His teachings. Marriage is sacred to God. So much so that He even calls His Church His “Bride.”

Once you really begin to absorb the Scriptures, and once a person is truly born-again by the Spirit of God, his or her perception of this earthly life will change. I pray that will happen for you and that you will realize this “love” you have for the other woman should be abandoned.

In the book of Revelation we learn about the Seven Churches that Jesus specifically addressed.

The Ephesian church was initially a good church but there came a point where their love for the Lord weakened. They had left their “first love.” Jesus commended the believers of Ephesus for their work and their patience. He applauded them for not tolerating evil teachings and for courageously calling out evil men who claimed to be apostles.

Faithful believers in the Ephesian church did not allow false apostles and false teachers to mingle with them. They were fundamentalists who held fast to the truth and did not compromise their relationships with the Lord.

Even though the Ephesian church had many strong believers who fought the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12), some slowly fell away and left their first love—the Lord Jesus.

“But I have this against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:4-5).

The churches of today would do well to emulate the forthright convictions of the Ephesian church members who did not leave or fall away from their commitment to Jesus.

As leaving one’s first love for someone new, a death blow is dealt to a relationship; the same is true of our relationship with the Lord. Many Christians leave their first love of Jesus by becoming distracted by the “pleasures” of this world and become too “busy” with work, family, hobbies, entertainment or other interests.

Instead of putting Jesus first, many believers place Christ last in their daily lives. When we leave our first love (the Lord), our testimony is greatly weakened or destroyed all together. A going through the motions “Christianity” replaces an authentic relationship with the living Savior.

The believers in the church of Ephesus had not totally left their first love, but their service to the Lord had become impersonal, ritualistically formal and perfunctory. (Sounds like your attitude toward your wife.) Their dedication and devotion to the Lord had fallen to a very low level, and the Holy Spirit was no longer in control.

Jesus urged and commanded the assembly of the Ephesian church to remember from where they had fallen and to repent. If they did not do as Jesus admonished, He promised that He would remove their church. Sadly, they did not repent and the light of that church went dark some time later.

Is Jesus first in your life? Is He your first love? If you find you are losing interest in Him and are no longer as committed to Jesus as you once were, reconciliation can begin today. If you recognize that you have been slipping away from the Lord, He can—without a doubt, restore your love for Him; and bring joy to your marriage by understanding His precepts and living for Him.

All you have to do is cry out to Him and resolve to walk with Him and not away from Him. Jesus promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). All believers should do the same for Him.

I hope you will think carefully about my suggestions and that you will take the steps necessary to heal your life and your marriage.

No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Any one of us could take our last breath at any moment. Please think about that.

I wish you and your wife the very best.

In God’s love,

Esther

 “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10).