Personal Stories of Hope
Jim and Barb’s Story
Barb was in a class taught by Dr. Kenworthy through their church. Jim was a Major serving as a military doctor on a submarine. One day Barb confided in Dr. Kenworthy that she and Jim were having difficulty in their marriage. He offered to help in any way. They were already each seeing Christian counselors, so Dr. Kenworthy’s initial role was for prayer support and encouragement. After some time, both Jim’s and Barb’s counselors suggested they should probably prepare for a divorce. In a last ditch move, they decided to engage Dr. Kenworthy on a deeper level.
In the very first session, Jim insisted he didn’t love Barb anymore and wondered if he ever really had. He also confessed that he was seeing another woman. With Barb sitting right next to him, he informed Dr. Kenworthy that: his lover was a better conversationalist than Barb because he had more in common with her, making it easier to discuss work related things; his lover was more attractive than Barb; and was also much better in bed. He said he asked his last counselor, “How do you know when your marriage is dead?” His counselor answered, “When it is dead; it’s dead. You will just know it.” Jim looked at Dr. Kenworthy and declared, “My marriage is dead!”
Barb and Jim appeared to be beyond hopeless in spite of both being believers in Christ, both searching Scripture, both earnestly praying. They were bright, capable people who had tried everything they knew to do. But if you no longer love your spouse, where do you go from there? How can you conjure up feelings that just are not there?
After listening to them vent, he asked them 3 seemingly simple, yet critical questions. The way a couple responds to them is fundamental to their future success together.
- Do you believe that there is a God?
- Are you willing to apply the principles of God’s Word to your life?
- Will you pray that the Spirit of God strengthen you and your spouse?
Both Barb and Jim acknowledged that they believed in God. Both agreed to apply the principles of God’s Word to their lives. And, both committed to pray for the Spirit of God to touch them and their marriage. Dr. Kenworthy then told them that, on the authority of God’s holy Word and the power of His Spirit, he will absolutely guarantee that this marriage will come back together.
Upon hearing this Jim looked at Dr. Kenworthy like he was crazy and asked if he hadn’t heard him say his marriage is dead? Dr. Kenworthy confirmed he heard exactly what he said but if he is willing to stick to the answers he gave to the 3 questions he will absolutely, positively guarantee that God will save his marriage.
Where does this extraordinary conviction come from? In Scripture God unequivocally states that He hates divorce. It is his Son, Jesus our Lord, who said what God has joined together let no one separate. Again, it is God who said if we pray anything that is His will, He will hear and answer. It may not be God’s will for me to be rich, or healthy or employed. I may face persecution, ridicule and hardship for His glory but it is always God’s will to save the marriages of two believers who say they believe in Him and are willing to follow the teachings of the Bible.
Jim was reluctant (and maybe skeptical) but he embraced the challenge. Their road to healing had some curves and bumps along the way but then one time on a trip that they took together to Seattle, God touched them. Jim talked — really talked — for the first time in years about what had been bothering him. Barb listened like she had never listened before. God worked His will. At the end of that weekend Jim said, “Maybe there is hope for us.”
That weekend marked the beginning of an exciting (and beautiful) ride that led to the restoration of their marriage. The “cherry on top” is that both Jim and Barb admit that the relationship they share today is far better than anything they had before.
Susan and Tim’s Story
Susan and her husband were stuck. They had a great marriage for nearly 20 years. They were leaders in their church, committed participants in ministry organizations, and have 3 great kids. Susan was a dedicated CEO of her home and Tim was a respected officer in the US military.
However, over a period of several months Tim developed a friendship with a fellow female officer with whom he shared duties. They both quickly blew past several warning signs and soon developed a romantic relationship that Tim knew was wrong but did not end it.
Tim hoped Susan would never find out but she did — and she was devastated. At that point Tim immediately ended the relationship and asked Susan for forgiveness. She said she could forgive but could not understand how he went down such a path. Susan needed to know why he did what he did to assure herself that he wouldn’t do it again. She wanted to talk about the affair but the more she talked about it, the more Tim sank into depression. Compounding their problems was that Tim had just received orders for a 6-month deployment where he would be surrounded by the same temptations as before. How could Susan trust him?
Susan’s desire for answers made Tim angry and his anger made her feel more hopeless. In their counseling with Dr. Kenworthy, he pointed out to them that God has all the power and strength and wisdom in heavenly places necessary for the healing of their marriage. When couples ask God sincerely He will show them creative solutions not found in best-selling books or anything we could ever come up with on our own.
By the time Tim and Susan agreed to trust God, Tim had already been deployed and their primary means of contact was email. For weeks during his deployment they both felt very depressed. In what was one of the lowest times in Susan’s life, she cried out to God and in essence said, “Lord I am stuck and I don’t know what to do. Please help me see your creative solution for my marriage!”
Dr. Kenworthy recalls that what God showed Susan struck him as remarkable. She had felt led to write Tim an email every day of his 6-month deployment. In every email she recounted in great detail pleasant shared memories of their relationship: their first kiss, their wedding day, bringing their firstborn home from the hospital. In every memory recounted she included physical and emotional elements so they could place themselves back in that moment. These daily remembrances soothed — and then helped heal — Tim’s troubled spirit.
Fast forward to today: Tim and Sue are still together, still thriving and still rejoicing in God’s goodness to both of them. The strategy of believing first and foremost in God’s perfect resources to get them unstuck was certainly not standard counseling practice. Yet both Tim and Susan made working on this central to their shared desire for total restoration.