The good news during trials and dark valleys

None of us welcomes emotional pain and heartbreak.  Yet, on this earth, we know we will encounter trials and pain. Often, that pain is experienced in our marriage.  We can get really frustrated that God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayer to “fix” our marriage or husband!   But Jesus never promised he would take away all our problems during our temporary stay on earth.  In fact, he said in John 16:33 “in this world you will have trouble.”  Fantastic.

However, if you look closely, you will discover two rays of sunshine in the midst of your darkest hours.  First, Jesus finishes that verse in John 16:33 by saying, “But take heart!  I have overcome the world“.  That is a great reminder that though we will have temporary troubles here, Jesus has prepared an eternal destination for us that will be completely free of heartbreak and suffering.  It will be glorious beyond our imagination!

Secondly, and here’s the point I really wanted to make….it is at the time of our biggest heartbreak that we often experience God’s presence in a way we’ve never known before.  When we choose to cry out to him and seek him during our time of grief and suffering, he promises to come close.  Very close.  Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit“.  If you’re in the middle of a really difficult time in your marriage, don’t miss the opportunity to draw close to God and encounter his love, compassion and comfort at a spectacular level!

Harnessing the “power of one” in your marriage

Each weekday, I offer a devotional intended to help wives. Yet, I have a funny feeling that some of you might be questioning why I’m always urging wives to change their behavior, look for ways to bless their husbands, and be more selfless in their marriage.  I can almost hear you asking, “What about him? Am I the only one who’s supposed to work on this marriage?”

Well, here’s a news flash for all of us.  We can’t change our husbands!  Only God can change a man’s heart.  We can establish boundaries.  We can encourage our men and offer wise counsel to them, but at the end of the day, we can’t control them.  We can only control us!  However, by changing the way we interact with our men, we can dramatically and positively impact them.  It’s the amazing power of one person to make a difference!

So, let’s all commit to working on ourselves.  Let’s look for ways to encourage our men, help our men, respect our men, and serve our men.  If your husband is engaged in a pattern of sin against you or your kids, commit to respectfully and lovingly setting boundaries on that behavior.  As you continue doing this week after week and month after month, I bet you’ll see a change in your husband and an improvement in your relationship.

Don’t give up. Don’t be pessimistic.  Press on.  Meditate on this wonderful promise found in Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

3 ways to start to regain your joy

Sometimes, life just gets plain hard.  You forget to pay a bill on time and get hit with a giant “late fee”.  You catch your husband looking at pornography.  You teenager lies to you.  Your child accidentally drops an entire jog of milk on the kitchen floor.  Ugh!

At times like these, it’s easy to feel weighed down.  It’s so common for us to give into despair and depression.  But instead of conceding defeat, we can regain our joy by practicing 3 things:

1) Recognize this is a scheme of the enemy to try to steal, kill or destroy your joy  (John 10:10 “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy”)

2)  Remind your soul of the enemy’s inability against our mighty God (1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”)  *Sometimes I even laugh at Satan’s pitiful attempts to drag me down!  I like putting him back in his place!

3) Trust that God will carry you through this challenge and even redeem the circumstances so that something good comes about in the long run. God is an expert at turning lemons into lemonade! (Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”)

How to persevere through your current challenges

It’s inevitable.  You will eventually hit some rough patches in your marriage, and in your life in general.  So how do you hang on and press through those storms?  If your husband is caught in a pattern of sin against you, you will need to respectfully confront the problem.  If you guys just plain disagree on how to handle something, you’ll have to work for a compromise.  But when the situation in your marriage seems hopeless, that’s when we have to learn to persevere.

One huge key for me in terms of perseverance is reflecting on the many times in the past that God has answered my cries for help.  When I look back and take an inventory of the miracles he’s performed in my life and the times when he clearly orchestrated events…then my faith is increased.  As my faith increases, I can more easily persevere through the current crisis.  By recalling the past deeds of God in my life, I find peace knowing that He was in control then and He’s still in control now.  This is the counsel given to us in Psalm 77:11-12 “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

 One of the best ways to remember the past deeds of the Lord is to write down “God-sightings” in a journal. I have a journal filled with little notes about answered prayers or “God-wink” moments where I can see that God orchestrated something amazing in my life.  I re-read these entries several times a year, and my faith is increased once again.  As my faith in God builds, I can persevere more easily during my current trial.  Do you have a “God-sighting” journal?

How to gain hope when life is hard

We ALL experience tough times in life.  It happens to all of us, whether in your marriage, with your health, with finances, with your children, etc.  And of course, Satan loves to pile on the negative thoughts all the more when he sees that we’re struggling.  We tend to start reciting a list of complaints…about people in our life, health problems, finances, the way we look, and on and on.  Instead of reflecting the love of Jesus to those around us, our facial expression portrays “woe is me”.

How ridiculous!  In reality, we have SO much for which to be grateful. I know I do.  Life could be SO much worse!  I have a warm, comfortable home.  I have plenty to eat (too much actually!).  I have a husband who takes care of me.  I have 5 children and 8 grandchildren.  I have a brain that actually works so that I can accomplish many tasks for my family and for God’s kingdom.  So, why am I whining?

Yes, sometimes things don’t turn out the way I had hoped. But what I need to remember is how many things have turned out well!  I could choose to be grateful for what I DO have.  And when things really are tough, and when I’m disappointed and discouraged…I need to remember to stop wallowing in self-pity, and to choose to trust in Jesus.  His Word says He is my rock. He says He will never leave me.  I love what He tells me in Psalm 103:4 “He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”.  When life gets discouraging…when you’re disappointed as a wife…lean on Jesus.

I finally grasp hope and peace when I choose to trust in Jesus.  He is at work!  His ways are perfect.  Seek His perspective on all that’s happening. Ask him to help you understand what he’s doing in this challenging moment.  He’s up to something, and in the end, it is good.

Making the most of your hardship or suffering

It’s so very easy to sink into self-pity, despair or flat-out depression when life throws you a curveball.  It happens when you receive bad medical news or when your husband does something hurtful or when your child starts following the wrong crowd or when your get laid off at work.

However, you do have a choice in how you’re going to view this sudden development.  You can choose to feel sorry for yourself and become consumed with resentment and hopelessness….or you can choose to do three much more productive things!  You can choose to make the most of your hardship by….

  1. Praying without ceasing for God to intervene in the situation (read Luke 18:1-8)
  2. Seeking guidance from God on what possible actions you should take to improve the situation (read Psalm 32:8)
  3. Asking God what He wants you to learn through this situation so that you grow in character and faith (read Romans 5:3-5)

3 things to help you regain your joy

Sometimes, life just gets plain hard.  You forget to pay a bill on time and get hit with a giant “late fee”.  You catch your husband looking at pornography.  You teenager lies to you.  Your child accidentally drops an entire jog of milk on the kitchen floor.  Ugh!

At times like these, it’s easy to feel weighed down.  It’s so common for us to give into despair and depression.  But instead of conceding defeat, we can regain our joy by practicing 3 things:

1) Recognize this is a scheme of the enemy to try to steal, kill or destroy your joy  (John 10:10 “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy”)

2)  Remind your soul of the enemy’s inability against our mighty God (1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”)  *Sometimes I even laugh at Satan’s pitiful attempts to drag me down!  I like putting him back in his place!

3) Trust that God will carry you through this challenge and even redeem the circumstances so that something good comes about in the long run. God is an expert at turning lemons into lemonade! (Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”)