I know a young leader who is experiencing a high level of disillusionment. His year has been full of heartache, leading to doubt about whether he should stay in ministry.
He recently shared with me that his mother-in-law—a highly respected woman in the Christian community—confessed to an extra-marital affair. He and his wife were shocked and hurt, and didn’t know how to respond. This beloved woman had always been a role model for their marriage. How did this happen? His mother-in-law’s passions somehow trumped her lifelong and steadfast commitment to God’s principals.
One month later, this young man’s father came to them and confessed his own extra-marital affair! They were crushed and numb. His father had always been a careful and devoted follower of Christ. Now, both of their families were in crisis, with the role models having abandoned the godly principles they had espoused for years.
This young couple began to feel like something was wrong with them. How could they have not known what was going on in their parents’ marriages?
In a truly odds-defying turn, just one month after his dad’s confession, this young leader’s personal mentor and coach was exposed in a significant moral failure. This put them over the top. Their feelings of hurt, disillusionment, and heartache became feelings of anger and fear.
If these individuals—all beloved role models—who appeared strong in their faith could fall into egregious sin, how could this couple have any hope for a lifetime of love and commitment toward each other and the God who had brought them together? Their dreams for a happy, lifelong marriage began to dissipate.
Each of us possesses unlimited potential for moral failure. This is the simple reality of our fallen nature. We are often just a few decisions away from this kind of experience. While we don’t know the specific choices this couple’s loved ones made, they made some wrong ones, and their families are now experiencing the inevitable suffering that comes from rejecting God’s design.
Those who have been unfaithful in marriage, including this young leader’s family members and friend, were likely made vulnerable to temptation because they neglected Jesus’ place as a (not-so-silent) partner in their marriages.
There are unfortunately too many of these cautionary testimonies to remind us that we must nourish our relationships with Jesus and feed ourselves on the Word of God, especially since we have an adversary who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8)!
But failure need not be the full story! With Jesus as Lord of our lives, and through His redemptive power, each of us possesses unlimited potential for moral success! As long as we focus first on our relationship with Jesus, He will teach us how to relate to others—friends, siblings, children, parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses—in a healthy, godly way!
This is our greatest hope, and this is the hope of which I was able to remind my young friend. No failure—including the deeply destructive sin of adultery—is outside the boundaries of God’s infinite capacity for forgiveness! Just as in our weakness He is made strong, in our failures He is made successful, as He offers—again and always—His forgiveness…and a kind word of reminder to hope, to follow, to trust.