Several years ago, a friend spoke to me of some disappointments and deep hurts in her marriage. I testified that I had for a period of time experienced great discouragement in my own marriage, but if we wait on YHWH, He will show His mighty healing power. The friend asked me how long she should wait. I do not recall my exact words but I basically told her that we have no choice but to wait as long as YHWH wants to take.* Marriage is a lifetime covenant relationship.
We live today in a throw away society. Everything seems to be disposable; plates and flatware, diapers, razors, etc. Small appliances are no longer made to truly last. There is an unspoken understanding that if the toaster or the vacuum breaks down, we throw it out and purchase a new one. In the context of our unsurpassed wealth as a nation, most of us have accepted this outlook.
Aside from all the environmental issues that result from this disposable approach to life, another problem has resulted. We have become a society of supposedly disposable marriages. The media, counseling community and sometimes even the pulpit encourage us to focus on whether or not we personally are "happy". When the going gets tough, we are encouraged to give up on what "isnít working" and start all over in whatever manner we wish. Hence, we are not only throwing away things; we are throwing away marriages at epidemic proportions.
While we cannot always depend on the quality of the products we end up with in our homes, we can do something about the quality of our marital relationships, even in situations where our spouse doesnít appear very concerned at the moment or even aware that we harbor any deep concerns and hurt. The Scriptures, which are the perfect love and wisdom of YHWH put into words, tell us we must not give up. Instead, give upward.
Wait, what does that mean? In other words instead of giving up on any hope of a difficult situation ever being resolved, give it all up to YHWHís perfect leading. Literally lift it upward to Him in prayer. If your spouse is unaware or unwilling right now, do this on your own. Praying about your marriage as a couple is the ideal, of course, but not always where you will be able to start out. Be patient.
Scripture says, "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:8-9 New Living Translation unless otherwise noted)
So we have to get off our "me, me, me" focus in these situations because how the difficulty we deal with ultimately turns out depends in great part on what we sow in the midst of it.
YHWH promises a rewarding harvest to those who concentrate on sowing what is honorable to Him and who do not give up on that focus. In times of marital trials, we must concentrate on praying for YHWHís wisdom, asking Him to change us as He wills, and then doing what we can to positively affect the circumstances.
As we bathe our marriages in prayer, what exactly are we to be sowing? After all, as we pray, we are also supposed to be about the work of the Father. The perfect list is found right in Scriptures: "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) These are the fruits that we should be asking YHWH to grow in us personally as we wait for His healing hand to touch our whole marriage.
In my own experience, I harbored great bitterness and anger for a period of years. With the all too willing assistance of the deceiver, Satan, I drove myself into an extremely deep depression. I was selfishly disappointed and angry that my husband wasnít everything I expected him to be when we married. In other words, he wasnít perfect. I kept asking YHWH to change this and that in my husband. I was very fearful that things he truly needed to change in might never happen, yet I wore a mask of content so very few people would have suspected my inner turmoil. When I asked a pastor and deacon for counsel, the pastor matter of factly said I should "quit worrying about other people" and start thinking about what YHWH must surely want to change in me.
At first, I was absolutely furious, thinking the pastor did not understand the depth of my despair and how valid my points were against my husband. Oh, how bitter, selfish and arrogant my heart had become! However, through this pastorís words, YHWH had planted a seed of change in my heart. I realized that I needed to start sowing something new too, in my relationship with my husband. I needed to ask for YHWHís forgiveness and for Him to change me.
We have this promise: "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired and weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Some of us are truly weary in our marriages right now; we must remain hopeful in YHWH that He knows all the details of our situation and He will provide us with the strength to handle it in a way that honors Him. This, along with a humble, all-day lifting up in prayer, is the only clear path to spiritual and emotional renewal in our marriages. As we do this, we can confidently claim the promises in scripture and enjoy the restoration He will bring to our homes.
In my home, we have much yet to learn but our marriage is so rich compared to just a few years ago. We have gradually become better at talking with each other about what is on our minds instead of "suppressing" our feelings. We pray together almost every morning before breakfast, which is an invaluable way to draw closer to YHWH as one and to get to know each others heart more intimately. We laugh a lot; a sense of humor (not belittling to others or self-deprecating) is a healing gift from YHWH. While I used to yearn for "something better" and mentally entertain the idea of leaving the marriage for "greener grass", I now canít imagine being anywhere else. I found out that the "something better" has been here all along and my favorite time of day now is when my husband walks in the door in the evening and our family is together again. Nothing on earth satisfies me more.
And YHWH has not just changed my heart, pulling me to Himself and meshing me more fully with my husband; He has also faithfully led and changed and molded my husband. I have watched him become absolutely thirsty for the Word and will of YHWH in his life and therefore he has changed as a husband and dad. He blesses me and encourages me greatly. What could be a more wonderful reward to those who lift their marriages and homes up to Abba YHWH for His perfect care!
In times of discouragement in marriage, which all couples experience to some degree at one time or another, do not give up my friend. Instead, give all up to YHWH in prayer, with the following scripture command and promise in mind: "Donít worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience Godís peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9)
May the blessing and refreshing of YHWH be upon each of our marriages and households and may we all remain confident in Him.
* (NOTE: This is not to say that a spouse should not seek a temporary place of refuge away from the home in cases where physical violence is involved).
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