As a pastor, few things are more heart wrenching than watching a married couple pick up the pieces after adultery. Feelings of betrayal, the unraveling of lies, and the waves of grief can seem insurmountable. At times those waves sink the marriage ship. Adultery can bring such catastrophic damage to a couple’s union that Jesus’ allowance for divorce appears unavoidable. But this is not always the case.
As grievous as this intimate betrayal is, God’s grace often prevails. When God works real repentance and gives strength for genuine forgiveness, true reconciliation is possible. Reconciliation after this sort of sin is never quickly realized. The road is often paved with prayer and sleepless nights. Yet with every faith-filled step, God brings healing.
What I have witnessed is that the sort of healing God brings in the wake of such hurt is nothing short of miraculous. In a way only He can, God so often grants a bond between the healed couple that was stronger than before sin infiltrated their lives. Faith is stronger, trust is deeper, and promises are sweeter. What Satan intended for evil, God used it for good in a way only He can.
In recent days I had the honor of standing with a couple to celebrate God’s gracious reconciliation in their marriage. The husband had been unfaithful, but God was not. He gave the husband grace to repent and gave his bride the strength to forgive. They still face hard days, but by God’s grace, their ship did not sink and today they continue to sail toward the distant shore together.
These are the vows he wrote and read during their renewal ceremony.
Years ago your hand I took
For you, My Bride, the world I forsook
My dying regret will be how you I’ve failed
and my unfaithfulness for which my Savior was nailed
So again this day I do thee wed.
but different vows I take instead
On my own strength I will not rely
but on His mercy in endless supply
Because He, not I, is the groom that you need
and for all my sin He did bleed
From Him alone will I seek favor
and your touch alone I vow to savor.
Only He is faithful and He is my King
and I vow today to Him I will cling
Again today, your hand I take
Again for my Bride the world I forsake
You and this covenant I will hold and cherish
till our better groom returns or till I perish.
Marriage is God’s gracious gift to a husband and wife. This glorious institution reflects the love, grace, and mercy the Lord has for His bride the church. Pray for marriages to withstand the temptations that abound, and pray for those who have known the most intimate betrayal to find healing from the Lord of mercies.
 Matthew 19:3-9
 Genesis 50:20