I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get in a poopy mood (yes, I just used the highly technical term “poopy”!) when I do something sacrificial for my husband and he doesn’t even seem to notice. For me, even though both my husband and I work full-time in ministry, I decided that, for a while, I would do all the household cleaning chores so that my husband would be freed up to serve God even more. I did this for a several month stretch last year.
Did I enjoy vacuuming, dusting, cleaning toilets? No, I did not. Did I sometimes feel grumpy when I cleaned the house after already working a full day? Yes, I did. But then I thought, “well, at least my husband will sing my praises when he gets home and notices all I’ve done”. However, even though I subtly pointed out to him what I had done, much to my shock, sometimes he didn’t say anything at all. What!?!
It’s at that time that God graciously reminded me that He noticed all I had done and he was pleased. I know that God is pleased whenever I serve my husband because God instructs us in Matthew 9:35 that “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
God always notices what we’re doing even when no one else sees it! In Matthew 6:4, the Bible reminds us that “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Let’s take heart that we are pleasing the “right” man when we serve our husbands sacrificially. That right man is Jesus.
We all inevitably go through stretches in our marriages (or with kids, finances, health, etc!) that are pretty rough on our hearts. Yes, we can persevere, pray, and trust in God during those times, and all those things are super important. But sometimes, we just plain need comfort. We need to sit in the lap of our heavenly father and have Him hold us tight.
Here is what I have discovered. Reading the Psalms slowly and out loud is like a warm embrace from my heavenly Father. As those words roll off my lips, I can almost feel His love and compassion flow over me. I sense the tenderness of His heart toward me. I gain hope once again.
Try it for yourself. I would suggest some of these Psalms: Psalm 103, Psalm 91, Psalm 34, and Psalm 37. God longs to comfort you. He loves you. As Psalm 103 says, “Our Father is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love.”
In any relationship, especially a marriage, there are going to be times when the two of you are in conflict. Perhaps your husband is breaking your heart through wrong behavior. At each of those times, we have to make really big decisions. Should I confront my husband on an issue where he appears to be out of line? Should I keep quiet and press into prayer, relying on the Holy Spirit to work in my husband’s heart? Should I compromise on an issue where we’ve been in conflict?
At these times, counsel from other godly women is very helpful, but honestly, my very best guidance comes from God himself. I just need to take a few moments to be quiet with Him and ask Him to speak direction into my mind and heart. Psalm 142:3 says “When my spirit faints within me, you know my way.” When I pause, close my eyes, and ask God in prayer to give me direction, I often sense a gentle nudge, or a prompting, or I feel like He’s speaking a word of direction into my mind in that moment. Unless the “prompting” goes against what the Bible would say, I trust that God has just spoken to me.
I did this recently on an issue between me and a close relative. I thought for sure I should make a certain decision, but once I spent just a few moments quieting myself and asking God to speak His counsel into my mind, I received guidance to go the exact opposite direction! He even allowed me to see why my original idea was flawed. Try this yourself. God is waiting at the door of your mind and heart. Open the door and let Him in.
We all inevitably hit rough patches in our marriages. In fact, there will likely be moments when you think “Why did I even marry this man?!” He may break a little piece of your heart when he forgets your anniversary, or is overly harsh with the kids, or develops a habit of satisfying himself while viewing pornography instead of making love to you. At these moments, you need comfort for your broken heart.
It’s our tendency to reach for something easy and tangible as a source of comfort. You might try to find some joy in buying lots of new clothes. I might turn to excessive food. But neither one of those choices truly comforts us. They actually lead to additional grief in the long run! Instead, both you and I need to train ourselves to run to God at those heart-breaking moments. He is waiting with open arms. Plus, Jesus knows what it feels like to suffer grief, betrayal, and a broken heart.
I love these two verses of comfort. Psalm 103:2-4 “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”. And Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. Meditate on those 2 verses and ask God to come close to you. He will, and I believe you will experience the warmth of his love!
One additional tip: I’ve found it especially helpful to find a quiet place of solitude (no cell phone, no noise!) where I can just sit with the Lord in stillness for 5 or 10 minutes, letting his peace and comfort wash over me.
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 all want to receive guidance from the Lord. You may need to make a decision in your marriage or with your children or regarding your work situation, and you wonder which way to go. Well, the good news is that God promises to guide us! Psalm 32:8 says “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” The tricky thing is figuring out exactly how to access his counsel!
Here are two primary ways to access his wisdom and his counsel. The first is….spending time reading His Word. Duh. But how many times do we come up with excuses as to why we don’t have the time or energy to spend much time reading the Bible? Maybe it’s time to stop making excuses and DECIDE to make Bible reading a priority in your life. I bet you make time to brush your teeth and take a shower, so why can’t you carve out 15 minutes for reading the Bible every morning? 😊 Reading the Bible will give you direct guidance on so many decisions you’ll need to make throughout any given day. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Next, spend time worshipping God and in “listening prayer”. When we worship God, he draws near, and he longs to whisper to us through His Holy Spirit if we will strain to listen for that whisper to our souls. 1 Kings 19:12 “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” So try this. Put on some worship music, or start singing a worship song. As you praise Him, close your eyes and envision God with you. Now ask Him to whisper guidance to your heart. Strain to listen. Did he give you a vision or nudge your heart in some way? I believe He will guide you. Just make sure that anything you believe you hear from God does not contradict what He says in the Bible.
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”
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!