Are you in a waiting phase? Maybe you’re waiting for God to answer your prayer regarding your husband. Maybe you’re waiting for your rebellious child, stubborn child to finally become mature. Maybe you’re waiting for your heart to heal after being betrayed by your husband. Whatever the thing you’re waiting for, I think we can all agree that waiting is hard! It’s hard because we have to be patient, and let’s be honest; most of us aren’t very good with the whole patience virtue. These two realizations have helped me learn to be a bit more patient when I have to wait.
1) God’s timing is often very different than what I think it should be, yet He is always faithful to show up. Psalm 40:1-2 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth…”
2) Some of the great women of the Bible had to wait and wait and wait before finally experiencing a HUGE answer to their prayers. Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, Rachel, and more all had to wait ridiculously long periods of time before God finally allowed them to give birth. But when their prayers were finally answered, oh my! They gave birth to some of the giants of the Bible: Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, Joseph. In other words, what they experienced in the end was well worth the wait. 🙂
Do you lack confidence in handling disrespectful or sinful behavior by your husband (or boyfriend)? If so, there are some common reasons. Perhaps you avoid conflict because you grew up in a home filled with rage and verbal abuse. Maybe you’re so insecure about your own worth that you can’t stand up for yourself if your husband is treating your poorly. However, you need to recognize this truth. If you remain insecure and scared of confrontation, it’s likely nothing will ever change in your marriage. You’ll keep getting what you’re getting right now.
There is a solution. First, ask God to give you courage to confront any sinful behavior in your marriage. He will be glad to answer that prayer! Throughout the Bible, God continually tells his people to be strong and courageous. In fact in Joshua 1:9, God says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Helpful hint: When I need courage, I ask God’s Holy Spirit to be the one who actually does the confrontation. I ask Him to simply use me as his mouthpiece.
If insecurity is the issue for you, then ask God to reveal your true worth and identity in His eyes. Meditating on what God says in Zephaniah 3:17 is a good place to start. He says, “The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” In addition, take a moment to close your eyes and ask God to speak one word into your mind about how He views you. You will likely be amazed at the loving, encouraging word He has for you. You may hear the word “beautiful” or “chosen” or “adorable” or “strong”….
The other day, a relative said some things about a person I love that I really found hurtful. My first instinct was to emotionally withdraw from that person…but that’s a dysfunctional behavior I’m trying to end. So, I started to tell that person what I really thought about their comments! Thank God, the Holy Spirit gently stopped me.
You see, sometimes God wants us to confront someone who is sinning against us or doing something wrong. But other times, God wants us to step back and allow His Holy Spirit to do the convicting in that other person’s heart, especially if that person is a believer. In John 16:7-8, Jesus tells his disciples, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, and he explained that one of the Spirit’s jobs is to convict people of sin.
What I’m learning is that I need to pause and consult God when someone is doing something that wounds me or bothers me. I need to ask God for direction. Does God want me to respectfully and lovingly confront that person, or does God want me to step back and allow His Holy Spirit to do the confronting.
Back to my story. When God stopped me from laying into my relative the other day and I decided to leave the “confrontation” up to the Holy Spirit…that relative actually came to me and apologized within a few hours. Today’s question for you: Do you pause long enough to get guidance from God before reacting?
We’re all anxious right now…maybe even downright fearful. How will we recover from financial setbacks from the coronavirus outbreak? Will we lose our job, our home, our cars? Will I be one of the people who catches covid-19? And if you’re not worried about that, then there are a myriad of other things that might be stealing your joy and your hope. Perhaps your marriage is falling apart or your kids are making poor decisions.
The truth is that, until we get to heaven, we will all experience tough times here on earth. And of course, Satan loves to pile on by whispering negative, hopeless thoughts into our minds when he sees that we’re struggling. We tend to start reciting a list of complaints and fears…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”.
For a believer, that’s ridiculous! If you’ve made Jesus your Lord, you have his protection and power at your disposal. Your prayers are powerful! James 5:16 “The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective”. And even if your prayers aren’t answered EXACTLY how you think God should, you can trust Him to redeem every hardship in your life. 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 anxiety starts eroding your hope…bring your concerns to Jesus and relax into his strong arms.
I 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. Ask him to redeem your seemingly hopeless situation. He’s so creative! He’s working behind the scenes right now.
Are you weary of trying to get your husband to do the things you want him to do? Are you tired of trying to handle everything? Are you getting discouraged that God doesn’t seem to be changing your husband or your kids as you have asked him to do?
Maybe it’s time to stop pushing your agenda! Perhaps it’s time to stop trying to control everything. 🙂 Maybe it’s time to trust God. This means, even the way we pray might need to change. Of course, we should always pray for our family members, but maybe it’s time to stop telling God what to do! Maybe God is asking you to give your concerns to him and to simply trust him to do what is best in the lives of your husband and children…and on his timeline. Instead of trying to control people and situations, what if you were to give your concerns to God in prayer, and then actually leave those concerns with him instead of snatching back those concerns and prayers when God doesn’t move as quickly as you want?!
Consider Isaiah 30:15….This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…”
This week, would you consider simply lifting the names of your loved ones to our heavenly Father and then asking Him to work deeply in their lives in the way He knows is best? Then relax and choose to trust God. He is all powerful and all loving. He is able to do the heavy-lifting where you are unable! You can trust Him. Pray, and then relax, rest, and trust.
Prayer really is powerful! You might be concerned about your husband’s actions or decisions. You may be distressed about his lack of attention or affection toward you or the children. If the offense is serious enough, you may need to establish boundaries, but at the end of the day, the truth is…you can’t CHANGE your husband. However, the good news is that God DOES have the power to change your husband’s heart! Ezekiel 36:26 lets me know God can change your man’s heart because that verse says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you”. I love to encourage wives to pray that verse for their husbands if their men appear to be off course in some area of their life. Then, we have to be patient while we wait for God to answer our prayers for our men. We also have to be intentionally watchful or we may even miss the answer to our prayer.
I was just thinking back about prayers I lifted to God several years ago regarding my husband. Just recently, I suddenly realized that God had actually answered those prayers! The changes happened so slowly and over such a long period of time that I hadn’t really noticed! Hmmm. It’s a good reminder to pray persistently, as Jesus instructs us to do in Luke 18, and then be watchful and alert for his answers. Colossians 4:2 says “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” So, don’t let an answered prayer slip by unnoticed. We don’t want to miss out on thanking God and rejoicing in His faithfulness.
Looking back, can you see God making slow changes in your marriage, in you, or in your husband as a result of your long-time prayers?
If you’re like me, sometimes you desperately need to sense God’s presence. When my relationships are challenged and I’m not “feeling the love” from my husband or family, I so need to sense God’s love and his comfort. The good news is that God promises to hold us when we cry out to Him! In Isaiah 51:12, God says “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals?”
However, it’s not like I can literally see him or reach out and grab his hand, so how can I take advantage of the comfort that He promises me? Well, I take a clue from King David. In Psalm 63:2, he says to God “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.” I believe David is talking about God giving David a vision of himself as David was worshipping.
I’ve tried this and it is a marvelous thing! I enter a time of praising God, with or without music, and then I ask God to help me envision myself being in His presence in perhaps his throne room or maybe in a beautiful mountain meadow beside a pristine brook. Why don’t you try this right now? Close your eyes, voice thankfulness and praise to God, and then ask Him to allow you to see yourself with Him in a particular setting. Can you sense His presence? Do you sense His great love for you? Can you feel His comfort? Do you sense the warmth of His love?
If you’re struggling to experience God’s comfort, let me just say that you MUST believe that God will indeed reveal his comfort to you. Have faith that you will sense God’s comfort. Remember, your faith that God will fulfill his promises is vital. James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord”
In our marriage and in all our relationships, we will face challenges. In response, we often wring our hands in despair, get mad at God, sink into depression, lash out at people around us, get really grouchy, and on and on. We act as if we’re surprised that we’ve encountered heartache and trials. Well, here’s a news flash for you. Trouble is normal and to be expected. After all, Jesus says in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble“. Drat.
However, God has a plan to do something wonderful in the middle of our challenges…if we decide to move out of despair and self-pity. God wants to teach us something. He doesn’t waste any opportunities for our personal growth! In the middle of our suffering, God gives us the choice to either wallow in depression or contemplate what He might be trying to teach us. Romans 5:3-5 sums this up well: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
The choice is yours. You can stay mired in despair if you want to, or you can anticipate a time of great personal growth and shaping of your character. Could God be teaching you patience, or perhaps teaching you to be courageous in confronting abuse, or maybe teaching you to help and comfort others who share a similar heartache? Maybe the Lord simply wants to teach you to draw even closer to Him and to trust in Him completely.
Maybe the Lord is planning to answer your prayers in a way that will blow your mind! When I’m in a time of discouragement or challenge, I like to give my concern to God in prayer and then encourage myself by saying this…”I can’t wait to see what God is going to do!!!”
I don’t know about you, but I fall into a really crazy and unproductive pattern when I seek God for advice and direction. I intend to be a good listener, but instead of quieting myself and really straining for God to speak to me through his Holy Spirit, I keep….talking! In fact, one second after I ask God the question “What should I do about …..?”, I start mulling over the options. My thoughts start ricocheting in my head and after a few minutes, I feel like I’ve boiled down the choices to 3 or 4 options for God to choose from. Yikes!
The other day I found myself doing this again. This time, however, I heard God speak a word of correction (or what some might call rebuke!). I heard him say “Why are you multiple-choicing me?” He reminded me that He doesn’t need me to lay out options from which to choose. He reminded me that, often, his answer or direction is not even listed among my multiple-choice options! I heard him whisper to my spirit, “What if my answer is “e” and you have only given me A-D from which to choose?”
Thank you, Lord, for reminding me that I need to do less talking and more listening. This is the essence of James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”
By the way, one tip that has helped me quiet my thoughts so I can actually hear the Lord’s whisper of guidance is this: Close your eyes and envision being with the Lord. (I like to envision walking beside him in a beautiful meadow next to a quiet stream). Then, while your mind is occupied with that vision, ask your question. Within a few moments, I usually sense Him whispering a word to me, or giving me a vision, or bringing a Bible verse to mind that will guide me.
Are you in the middle of a really difficult challenge in your marriage or in some area of your life? Are you consumed with worry or outright fear about the future? It’s at those times in our lives that we need to press into prayer in a more earnest way. Throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, we see that when God’s people were extremely troubled or worried or bewildered, they sought God with every fiber of their being by…fasting.
What is a fast? It’s a time where you go without some types of food or all food for a specific period of time in which you seek God with your whole heart. Sometimes, people give up something other than food, such as media. I remember a time when I fasted from all food for 3 days as I earnestly sought God’s counsel regarding a relationship. At the very end of that fast, God gave me a vision that made my path very clear. Praise God!
In Ezra 8, we read that the Israelites fasted and implored God for a safe journey through enemy territory and Ezra says, “God listened to our entreaty“. Is it time for you to enter a time of earnest prayer and fasting of some type? Please consult your doctor if you have health issues that could be adversely affected by fasting from food, but otherwise, fasting may be just what you need for a breakthrough in prayer!