Greg and April – Easter 2014
Greg is a very good gift from God.
I, sadly, didn’t always see this truth.
Here are some questions I hear over and over.
- If God didn’t give me a loving husband (by my specific definition), I have to doubt His goodness and His motives toward me.
- If God really loved me, He would give me a good husband (again, by my particular definition of “good”).
- My husband is not a good gift. I question if God is able to really love me and if He can even save my soul after He let me down so badly by giving me the man I am married to.
- I tried to live for God, how did I end up with a husband who is not Christlike at all?
- If the way my husband “loves” me is the way Jesus loves the church, I don’t want anything to do with either Jesus or marriage. God’s design is not good because my husband has failed me, sinned against me or not met all of my expectations.
- I thought I was hearing God’s voice when I chose to marry this man. But my husband has turned out not to be a godly man at all. He looked at porn a few times/He says mean things to me sometimes/He doesn’t make me his first human priority the way I want him to. How could God have led me astray like this? (If I did X, Y and Z for God, He owes me a godly man.)
- Does God not love me? What did I do wrong that I am married to this guy?
- If God did not help me pick a good mate, how can I trust Him to save me for eternity?
- Why do I have to work so hard and be “perfect” to win my husband over and please God when other husbands are so loving toward their wives? (For this question, please refer to yesterday’s post about the Snare of Comparing.)
** If you are dealing with severe issues in your marriage, my blog may not be a helpful resource, you may need more experienced, specific help to deal with infidelity, addictions, real abuse, uncontrolled mental disorders, etc. God is able to heal and His Word applies to us all, but I don’t have experience or expertise with any of these things. I don’t want to make things worse for wives in such situations. I am approaching things from the perspective of a woman who was not abused and who was very controlling and dominating with a passive husband in the past. I don’t want anyone to stay where they are truly unsafe.)
Ok, ladies… These are important questions and I am glad we can address them because I think that many, many wives are stuck on these issues. Let’s see if we can get a couple of very important things straight. These are foundational things that if we don’t get them right, we are building our lives and marriages on the sinking sand of the world’s lies instead of the Rock of Christ.
These questions really revolve around whether God is who He says He is or not and whether His Word is true or not.
Will we believe God, or will we believe lies?
- God is good. Always.
“No one is good–except God alone.” Luke 18:19
- God is love. Always. He cannot have evil motives toward us. For us to accuse God of evil is very serious sin.
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. Job 1:20-22
- His wisdom is infinitely higher than our own.
“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker… Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?… “This is what the Lord says— the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question Me about My children, or give Me orders about the work of My hands? Isaiah 45:9-11
We are largely lacking proper reverence, trembling, awe and fear before God when we think we are more wise than He is and that we have enough wisdom to question Him and accuse Him of making poor choices. God has wisdom. I do not. I need to get that fact very clear and straight in my head and humble myself greatly and repent of any such attitude before I approach God.
- God is holy and is incapable of sin. (James 1:13-15)
- God is sovereign (check out the entire books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Psalms, Ruth, Esther, Revelation, Job, Genesis, Exodus, and every other book of the Bible). He is able to use even demons, sin, Satan and sinners to ultimately accomplish His purposes even though He does not cause evil. He uses what was intended for evil for His good purposes (Genesis 50:20).
- All people are wretched sinners. (Romans 3:23) Any husband I marry would sin against me. Some worse than others, true. But all spouses sin against each other. I am a wretched sinner, too. Loving a sinner is painful. It involves great cost. Look at how much it cost Jesus to love me. Marriage gives me a glimpse into the profound pain God experiences when we sin against Him.
- People have free will. (Romans) God’s sovereignty and human free will co-exist together without conflict – one of the greatest mysteries to our finite human minds. God doesn’t tempt anyone to sin and He doesn’t cause anyone to sin. If my husband sins against me, it is because he is a sinner – it is wrong and sinful of me to blame God for my husband’s sin. If I sin against my husband, it is because I am a sinner.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15
MY DECISION MAKING PROCESS:
I can’t speak for any of you. I can only speak for myself. I thought I was seeking God’s will when I prayed about if I should marry Greg. I thought I was serving God well. But, now I know that my heart was brimming over with sinful motives:
- idolatry of self, of being “in control,” of Greg, of marriage, of romance, of my happiness, of “feeling loved.” I did NOT love Christ with all my heart, mind soul and strength, I had other things on the throne of my heart instead of Jesus. 🙁
- massive pride, pride, pride
- I expected Greg and marriage to make me happy and make me feel loved all the time. I had extremely unrealistic expectations.
This is how I look at these things now personally for myself:
- Do I really desire Jesus above all else? Am I willing to be content in Him alone no matter what my husband does or does not do? (Philippians 4:12-13) Or do I have my husband, our marriage, my feeling loved or getting my way above Christ in my heart as idols? What I really wanted earlier in my marriage was for God to give me His contentment through my idolatry.
God is NEVER going to allow me to find His peace and contentment when I am putting my trust and hope in other things, not in Him alone.
- God’s definition of “good” is from the perspective of eternity – not “in the next 5 minutes.”
- How can I sin against God by accusing Him of evil and wrongdoing by telling Him that He didn’t give me a “good gift” when I made the decision to marry Greg myself? If anyone is wrong here – it is me or my thinking, not God.
- What if God is trying to work in Greg’s life, but I refuse to obey Him so Greg can’t even hear God’s voice because MY voice is so loud? Maybe I am a stumbling block to my husband becoming the godly man God desires him to be. That was absolutely the case earlier in our marriage.
- God loves Greg. Jesus died for him, too. God desires me to treat his son well. How am I doing at honoring, respecting and blessing God’s son?
- Can I accurately label Greg a “bad husband” when I was not at all being the wife God called me to be? Maybe my husband would respond very differently to me if I am not emasculating him, disrespecting him constantly and usurping his authority? Turns out – that is exactly what has happened. Greg is not a “bad husband.” I was a very ungodly wife – and didn’t realize it for 14.5 years.
- What if Greg IS a good gift from God? Maybe the problem isn’t God or Greg but maybe that I have been terribly mistreating the gift? That was true in my situation, at least.
- There may be husbands who are truly horrible and “bad” – but a sinner’s sinfulness does not negate the goodness of God, thankfully!!!!!
- What if God plans to use all of Greg’s flaws, weaknesses and sins to chisel, mold, prune and refine me and to make me more holy and more like Christ? Isn’t that actually an incredibly good gift?
- What if God is not that interested in my temporary happiness but in me knowing Him deeply and in the eternal consequences of the decisions I make in my marriage?
- What if God, in His sovereignty, is able to make something beautiful of our marriage even if I “made a mistake.” Which, I happen to know now – I did not make a mistake. Of course, I erroneously thought I did for a very long time. Now I know that Greg is a very good gift! God has given me a totally new perspective.
- What if no matter what husband I married, I would be sinned against and that would reveal all this same sin and filth in my own life? The kind of wife I am and the way I respond comes from my character and the fruit of my soul – whether my sinful nature is in control or God’s Spirit is in control. I could be married to Billy Graham and be just as unhappy, resentful, bitter, prideful, self-righteous and full of idolatry of self as I was being married to Greg.
It is not my husband who determines my character. My relationship with Christ determines my character! I am fully, 100% responsible for myself.
- How could I ever say, “God, you must not love me!” YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All I have to do is look at Jesus – God in the flesh – on the cross. How can I stand there before Him as He absorbs all of the wrath of God upon Himself, taking my place that I deserved, bearing the colossal weight of my heinous sin and tell him, “Jesus, You aren’t giving me enough! You need to give me more. I can’t trust You at all. You haven’t given good things to me. If You really loved me, You would have given me X, too. That’s what I really want. You aren’t enough for me. I am not content or satisfied with all of You and all of heaven. After all, the only reason I serve and try to obey You is to get what I REALLY want – the marriage of my dreams.” Wow. That would take some serious audacity on my part.
- God does not give spouses on the basis of “merit.” All we have from God we have by grace. We have earned NOTHING. I don’t think we truly “get” this. That what we earned is hell. That is what we deserve. We don’t deserve anything good from God. We are wretched sinners. Jesus earned everything for us.
- We are the bride of Christ. Jesus is the perfect Groom. But look how we have treated Him and sinned so greatly against Him. If Jesus’ spouse sins against Him, why do we expect not to be sinned against when we marry a sinner and we, ourselves, are sinners?
- There is no “soul mate” like we think there is and like Hollywood has tried to sell us. No particular human can meet all of our emotional and spiritual needs. Only God can meet our deepest needs, no man can do that. We choose our husbands. He knows who we will chose. He may give us godly wisdom as we truly seek Him. His primary directive is that we only marry someone “in the Lord” and that we not be “unequally yoked.”
- Sometimes God has eternal purposes in a difficult marriage – have you read the book of Hosea? God asked Hosea to demonstrate His unfailing love to a faithless wife to show the people of Israel – His bride – how much their idolatry and sin and rebellion cost Him and how faithful He was in spite of their constant sin and unfaithfulness.
- Marriage is hard and painful in this fallen world. But God will use this pain to stretch us and teach us to become more like Himself and to help us understand more of His love for us and more of what He desires us to give to Him.
- Unbelief is HUGE sin. There is no bigger sin. If I tell God that He is untrustworthy and I don’t believe He is able to deliver me from sin and save me based on His Word and who He is – I probably don’t know Him. If I can’t accept God’s Word is true and that God is who He says He is – I have a BIG, BIG problem.
- If I hate my husband in my heart, I don’t love God. (I John 4:18) What if marriage is a “love lab” where I am tested and tried and where I learn to love with God’s love in real life even when my husband doesn’t “deserve” love or respect from me. What if it is not about what my husband deserves or what I deserve but what Jesus deserves? He is worthy of my obedience and sacrifice!
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
- What if God desires to use me to be an ambassador for Christ to my unbelieving or disobedient/ungodly husband? What if He desires to use me to witness to my husband (if I am already married and my husband is not a believer) and what if, through my obedience to God and my being filled with His Spirit, God plans to draw my husband to salvation? What if I get to play a small part in seeing my husband come to Christ? What would not be worth that? What sacrifice would I be unwilling to make if it meant that my husband would know Christ here on earth one day and know Him in heaven and not be condemned to hell forever? I cannot save my husband. But I can make the gospel as attractive as possible and I can influence my husband for Christ as I live in His power and love and as I walk in obedience to Jesus on a daily basis and live out I Peter 3:1-6.
- What if God desires to use my struggles and difficulties to minister to wives later in my life who are experiencing similar struggles? What if God is preparing me and equipping me to make strong disciples of other women through my heartache now? That is exactly what God has done with me. He has used my years of loneliness, sin, worry, anxiety, fear and rebellion against Him and my sin against my husband to draw thousands of women from around the world (and men) to Himself. Could I see that 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago? Nope.
MAYBE IT IS BETTER TO SAY:
- God, make ME a good gift to my husband!
- God, use ME to bless my husband!
- God let my life bring You great glory and honor however You see fit!
- God, use our marriage to bless many other people and to attract many to Christ! Show me how to play my part in displaying the profound mystery of the intimacy between Christ and His church in our marriage no matter what Greg does or does not do.
- I trust You no matter what happens, Lord! You are good. I will praise and thank You in everything!
- I am fully Yours. Make me like Jesus and use me for Your kingdom. I yield myself completely to You.
- If I have You, I will be content. You are all I need. You are my very great Reward, my Shield, my Treasure and my Pearl of Greatest Price. If I have You, I have everything! Nothing can rob me of the peace, joy and abundant spiritual life You give me.