We’re all struggling with something. It could be your marriage or your kids or your finances or your health or the political divisiveness that is separating longtime friends! Often when we’re in the middle of a big challenge, we can feel very alone, even if we’re surrounded by people. It seems like no one really understands what we’re going through. We feel all alone in the battle.
But we’re not alone! And this is not just a Christian bumper sticker or a warm and fuzzy saying on a Christian greeting card. As some of you know, I lost my husband Raul to covid in November of 2021. He was the love of my life, my companion, my best friend, my encourager, my partner in ministry, and so much more. Talk about feeling alone when he departed this earth!
For several months, I grieved, and that is totally appropriate and necessary. That grief turned even more heavy when I realized I was all alone. I might have family and friends, but I had lost my constant companion and best friend and partner in life. But then I sensed God bringing to mind some of Jesus’ final words to his disciples. In Matthew 28:20 he told his disciples something HUGE! “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
God was reminding me that Jesus is truly with me…every day…in every struggle…during my reflective morning coffee time to my search for guidance during the middle of a struggle. He is my constant companion. Yes, I have since remarried, but we will ALL still feel alone in life’s challenges from time to time. I’m finding that in the middle of every challenge, the question has changed from “What should I do?” to “What should WE do, Jesus?” I’m even inviting Jesus to join me during mundane tasks and grocery shopping and an afternoon walk. He is always with me. I’m not alone. Is it time to invite Jesus to be your constant companion?
Are you feeling weary, discouraged or burdened? Perhaps you’re feeling frustrated with others or even yourself. This remedy might seem strange, but God says that when we meditate on His principles and begin applying them in our lives, our souls will be refreshed! Psalm 19:7-8 says “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
Maybe your soul is weary or discouraged because you’ve been trying to handle difficult people and circumstances with your own wisdom. Maybe it’s time to search out God’s wisdom instead. For instance, if you are depressed about your husband’s continuing verbal abuse toward you and your children, maybe your soul will be refreshed as you read God’s instructions for dealing with someone who is sinning against you. You might want to read Matthew 18:15-17.
Perhaps you’re dealing with a rebellious child who isn’t responding to your explanations about why he or she should listen to you. Maybe your soul will be refreshed as you read God’s instructions for molding your children into people of character. You might want to read Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
In your marriage and in all your relationships, you will face challenges. In response to those challenges, 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!!!”
We are all so prone to dwell on what we don’t have. For instance, you might spend lots of mental time and energy longing for a more romantic husband. Or maybe you rehearse over and over again the many qualities your husband lacks! You may be a single woman reading this devotion, and you may be spending lots of energy and time trying to capture a man who can become your husband!
Here’s the thing. We can easily spend so much time focusing on what we don’t have…and trying to manipulate people and circumstances to get what we want…that we don’t even enjoy the many blessings God has actually given us. We can miss out on the life we have!
Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” You and I need to focus on the many things for which we can be thankful. What good people has God placed in your life? How has God provided for you? Dwell on those things and be thankful. When you stop focusing on what you don’t have, you’ll finally be able to truly enjoy all the blessings that you do have!
When life throws you an unexpected curveball, it’s pretty easy to sink into depression, bitterness, victimhood or gloom. For some of you, that curveball is catching your husband connecting online with another woman…or your teen developing a drug addiction…or a cancer diagnosis for you or a loved one. For me, my latest curveball was my husband succumbing to covid and passing away unexpectedly. I became a widow, and suddenly by whole life changed. My partner and companion in life was gone in an instant.
As I was taking a walk the other day and grieving with the Lord, I sensed him prompting me to do 3 things in order to move forward with joy and purpose in my life, despite the curveball that came my way. He whispered to me, “Tackle what needs to be taken care of each day, dwell on what is actually good in your life and let yourself enjoy those things, and look for the opportunities I’m giving you each day to partner with me in expanding my kingdom and being a great reflection of Jesus.”
Wow! As he spoke those 3 things to my heart, I could tell my mood started to shift. Instead of focusing on the loss or the heartbreak, God was giving me the recipe to break free from gloom and embrace the purpose and joy he still has for me. Let’s review those 3 things along with the Bible verses that correspond to each instruction:
Tackle what needs to be taken care of today…just today. Don’t focus on the “what ifs” of the future. Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Focus on the blessings you DO have in your life and allow yourself to actually enjoy those things. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Ask God to show you the opportunities he has for you each day to partner with him in reflecting Jesus and expanding his kingdom. This gives you joy and purpose! Colossians 4:5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
Marriage is not one continuous fairy tale. Your husband is not perfect, and neither are you. Therefore, you will experience times of disappointment, frustration, and even heartbreak. The question is…what will you do during those “valley” times in your marriage? How will you rally yourself and stay in the game? Where can you find the motivation to fight for your marriage?
One powerful key to battling all the way through those valley times is to receive encouragement from other godly wives. You NEED encouragement! You NEED fellowship with other Jesus-seeking women.
The enemy is constantly whispering discouragement to you. He wants you to leave your husband. He wants to destroy your family. In John 10:10, Jesus says the enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy“. But we can counteract the enemy’s schemes by asking godly friends to speak truth to us. Seek friendships with godly women who know the truth of God’s Word and who are encouragers. Be an encourager in their lives as well. You might have to be the one to initiate this time together, but it’s worth it! Ask a woman to coffee. Ask another woman to be your prayer partner and make an appointment to pray weekly for each other over the phone or in person.
Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” You need encouragement to stay in the battle! It’s worth it. Jesus has a good plan for your marriage. He has come that you “may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
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?
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!
If we could all truly embrace the Biblical principle of taking just one day at a time, we would all be better off! Yes, this is a Bible principle. Jesus says in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” In other words, instead of worrying and fretting about the “what if…” questions, Jesus tells us to just focus on doing what we should do today.
How does this apply to you? If it seems overwhelming to you to put your marriage back together after betrayal, just choose to move forward, one day at a time. If you tend to avoid confronting your husband or establishing boundaries on wrong behavior because you fear the possibility of future tension, trust in Jesus and move forward, one day at a time. If it seems daunting to take off the 50 pounds you’ve gained in recent years, don’t think about how hard this is going to be for the rest of your life. Just choose to eat healthy today and take it one day at a time.
Worrying about the future is pointless. Being consumed by the “what if…” questions will only keep you trapped in fear. Let’s do what Jesus says. Let’s decide each morning to do what we know we should do that day, and let’s trust God to handle tomorrow.
I know this might sound too simple. I know you could be rolling your eyes as you read this. But give this a chance. A huge key to regaining some of your joy during challenges or after a heartbreaking event is…to focus on the things for which you can be thankful.
All of us tend to focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. By doing so, we become bitter, jealous, and depressed women. Now if you actually enjoy being bitter and depressed, you just go right on concentrating on what’s wrong in your life. However, there is a better way to live. God recommends it in the Bible. It’s called being thankful for what you do have. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances“. This means disciplining your mind to focus on what is good and right and beautiful. God puts it this way in Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Do you have shelter and plenty of food to eat each day? Wow! You’re in the top 10% of the entire world! Do you have someone in your life (husband, mother, friend, child) who loves you? Wonderful! Do your legs and hands work? Can you see, hear, and taste? Thank God for the health that not everyone enjoys. Has God made himself known to you and drawn your heart to him? Awesome! That means he thinks you’re special and he decided before the beginning of the world to select you to adopt as his child!
Yes, there is a time to grieve losses in our lives. But we can’t stay camped out there! Let’s make a concerted effort to focus our minds on being thankful. Little by little, you may find your joy returning, even during hard times.