Finding true comfort during distress

All wives inevitably hit a rough patch or two in their marriage.  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. YouI 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, we 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.

Leave room for the Holy Spirit

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?

How to receive God’s guidance

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.

** Or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Sensing God’s comforting presence

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 people in my life, 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 possible, actually try to get out into his beautiful creation and saturate your senses with the beauty he designed!

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

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Are you multiple-choicing Jesus?

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.

When desperate for God’s help

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 3rd person 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!

The healthy way to seek advice

If you’re going through some challenges with your husband right now, it’s really wise to seek godly counsel from another woman. Often another woman can see the situation more objectively.  A godly woman can encourage you to persevere through challenges instead of giving up.  Sometimes, another woman can help you see the need to set wise boundaries on unacceptable behavior.   It’s also really wise to reach out to a few godly women who you know will pray for you and your husband.

However, there’s a fine line between seeking godly support and husband-bashing!  Sometimes, we go beyond seeking advice and prayer support and we start gossiping and whining about our husbands.  That’s not constructive and it’s very disrespectful to your husband.  Let’s keep in mind God’s instruction to wives in Ephesians 5:33…”The wife must respect her husband“.

So check your heart before you pick up that phone to whine to a friend.  Check your motives before you start complaining about your husband to another woman. Are you telling dishonoring stories about him in great detail and listing all of his faults…or are you actually looking for guidance and prayer support? Pay attention to the words you’re texting or speaking.  Are they disrespectful or honoring to your husband? 

3 questions to ask when 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?

The good news in 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!