When you’rein the pit of despair

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.

— or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO HERE

If you’re desperate for God’s help or guidance

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!

Invite a third party into your marriage

One of my super humbling moments as a newly divorced woman actually reminds me of a vital marriage principle.  Here’s the event forever etched in my memory from December of 2002:

It was nearing Christmas and I had just gone through a divorce after 18 years of marriage.  My children were 16 and 14 at the time and I wanted to keep as many Christmas traditions in place as possible, so I announced that I was taking the kids to cut down our Christmas tree from a local tree farm.  Just before we took off, I realized I didn’t have any way to tie the tree to the top of my SUV.  But hey, I’m a reasonably intelligent person, or so I thought. lol  I wasn’t going to let anything deter me!

So I searched my new house for something resembling rope or a bungee cord.  Alas, there was no such thing on hand.  All I had was some….sewing thread. Hmmm. Well, maybe a whole bunch of thread would work?

Off we went to pick out our beautiful Christmas tree.  My son cut it down.  Unlike me, he apparently knew how to handle this part of the operation.  We hoisted the tree to the top of my SUV and then I carefully wove my spool of thread back and forth across the tree to secure it to the roof.  My kids just shook their heads in disbelief.  Then we took off, and we actually made it about a half-mile before the tree took a slow, inelegant slide from the top of the car to the road. Splat!

Why am I sharing this story with you?  I’m using it to remind both you and me that a tiny thread is not sufficient to hold anything heavy when the wind starts blowing against it.  In the same way, we need a super strong rope to hold a marriage together when we are slammed by the wind of miscommunication, frustration, and unmet expectations in marriage. We need a rope of three strands…you, your husband and the Lord.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Sit down with your husband and brainstorm ideas on how you can keep God in the center of your marriage. You will need him to help hold you guys together when you encounter the inevitable adversity and challenges that hit every marriage! Invite a third party into your marriage…the Holy Spirit!

— or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO HERE

God has a plan to bring beauty from your pain

No one really embraces heartbreak or suffering.  We usually do everything we can to avoid it, and we often complain to God when He doesn’t put an end to it at our first request.  But maybe he is allowing the suffering for a really good reason.  Maybe He has purpose even when he allows us to experience disappointment or even heartbreak.

I think of several stories from the Bible.  Joseph’s story in Genesis, chapters 37-50, is a prime example.  Even though Joseph endured great suffering for many years as he wrongly spent time in prison, God had a masterful plan he was executing behind the scenes….a plan that would involve Joseph rising to great power in Egypt and helping his family gain food during a famine in Israel.  I also think of the great apostles Peter and Paul.  They were beaten and thrown into prison, but God later miraculously freed them from prison and their story inspired many to follow Christ.

The Bible reveals that there is purpose in suffering and heartbreak.  Romans 5:3-5 says “…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.”   So, perhaps instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or feeling anger toward God, maybe you and I should choose to trust God even in the midst of heartbreak.  Maybe we should ask God to use our suffering to build our character.  God won’t waste your heartbreak.  He will use it to do something beautiful.

— or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO HERE

God can use you to shape your husband!

If you and your husband are followers of Jesus, then you are both being sculpted.  The Bible says in Isaiah 64:8  “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  God is molding and shaping us each and every day.

God uses many tools to shape us.  He sometimes allows us to make foolish decisions and then experience the natural consequences of those decisions.  Hopefully, we learn something valuable from those painful lessons!  But when it comes to your husband, God has another powerful tool in his tool belt…you!  As a wife, you have the unique ability to encourage your man.  You can choose to be the voice that points out his good qualities.  When you do that, most husbands seem to grow 2 inches taller.  Your words of encouragement often become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy for your man.  As you affirm his good character qualities, talents, and spiritual gifts, he feels emboldened to step into those things with more confidence and vigor.

God may even want to use you as a tool to lovingly but firmly confront your husband if he is entrenched in a pattern of sin.  You know your husband better than anyone else, so you’re the one who will likely notice if he is caught in a sinful pattern.  Pray and ask God if he wants you to have a loving conversation with your husband about that sin pattern.  Does God want you to request your husband see a counselor, attend a 12-step group, meet with the pastor, join a men’s ministry?  Does the Lord want you to draw a firm boundary with your husband, thereby putting pressure on him to do whatever it takes to get free from this sin?  (Read Matthew 18:15-17 for more guidance on this)

Will you be a tool in God’s tool belt?  Pray and ask the Lord to show you if and how he wants you to be a tool!

How to develop actual love for the Lord

Many Christians are familiar with the verses in Matthew 22:37-38 where Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment.   Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

Well, I’ve been asked lately about how to develop this actual love for God.  You see, it’s very difficult to truly love someone you’ve never experienced.  You and I must experience the Lord’s power and love for ourselves in order to truly fall in love with Him.  Otherwise, we have head knowledge from the Bible, but no heart knowledge!

Looking back at my own journey with Christ, I realized that I’ve grown to truly love Him as I earnestly sought His help through prayer and then saw Him answer those prayers in loving and powerful ways. I experienced God!

So I urge you to begin seeking the Lord with your whole heart.  Come to Him with your deepest needs, but make sure you’ve done your best to obey Him first.  After all, God says in James 5:16 that the “prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”.  So, in other words, God powerfully responds to the person who truly seeks to obey His commands and follow His promptings.  After you’ve done all you can do to obey the Lord, pray earnestly for His help.  When He shows up, take notice!  God just connected with you and allowed you to experience His love, power and help!  Now, you have heart knowledge of the Lord!

— or view this topic as a short VIDEO HERE

3 questions to ask when you’re discouraged…

Sometimes, we feel like we’ve reached the end of our rope!  You may be discouraged because you’ve been praying for God to change your husband’s attitude or behavior, and it’s just not happening.  You may be discouraged because you hoped your children would turn out a certain way, and they seem to be making bad decisions.  You may be discouraged because you’ve been searching for a new job and you can’t find one that fits your abilities and availability.  Now what?

Well, first, don’t give up praying.  In Luke 18:1, the Bible says…”Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  So, keep asking God for a miracle.   However, maybe it’s time to put on a new set of glasses.  Maybe you’ve been insisting that God do what YOU think is best, instead of praying that God’s perfect will be done.  Now is the time to ask God to reveal his perspective on this issue.  Why don’t you ask him these 3 questions, and then spend some quiet time listening for his response:

1)  Lord, can you help me to see this situation through your eyes?

2)  How are you trying to change me or teach me through this situation?

3)  Is there a lie the enemy is trying to get me to believe about this situation?