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Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in Painful Trials

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Three strong believers share about finding contentment in Christ alone even in very painful, difficult, lonely situations where worldly peace and contentment are completely impossible. I pray their words and stories might bless you and your walk with the Lord richly!

From Sister in Christ #1 

I had to hit rock bottom and surrender everything to the Lord before I found that peace and trust in Him. I had to get to the point where I truly realized that my husband and my marriage had been an idol – that I had been depending on my husband to meet my needs, instead of God. So truthfully, the main reason I was so afraid of losing my husband (in the beginning) was because he was the one that I had been looking to – to take care of me, provide for me, love me, and fill me. I knew the Lord, but I had not been fully relying on God for these things – and I didn’t even realize that until after my husband left!

It took my husband leaving me for me to come to the end of myself and surrender to the Lord. And it took many months (actually over a year) before I FULLY trusted God with my life, my husband, and marriage.

I can assure wives that if they will press into the Lord and give Him total control, that they will get to a place of complete trust and have a peace that passes our human understanding! I’m sure there may be other problems on our spouse’s end, too. But the Lord wants to work on our hearts individually. The change has to start with us! There may be a totally different timetable for what God does in a husband’s heart and in the marriage, but the only time table that we have any control over is what we allow God to do in our hearts right now, even through painful, lonely situations.

I remember people telling me things like that and I would just get angry because I didn’t want to hear that I had no control over anybody but myself.

Control issues are rooted in fear – what do we truly believe about God?

  • Are there false beliefs about God that needed to be uprooted?
  • Do we see Him as being totally sovereign, 100% trustworthy, and that He is exactly who the Bible says He is – and that He can do exactly what the Bible says He can do?

That was another thing that I discovered in this journey, that I had false beliefs about God – I didn’t truly believe He had only the best plans for my life. I had to ask the Father to break many strongholds, and to renew my mind by His word.

I had to start speaking out scripture, and hear myself declare it, until I truly believed it.

 

From Sister in Christ #2

You know what? It would be wonderful to have Christ-centered human companionship always, but so often in life, only the Lord stands with us. For example, in 2 Timothy 4

  • “. . .At my first defense, no one stood with me, but everyone deserted me. . . . But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me. . . . So I was delivered. . .

Ultimately, it is just us and the Lord who have to cross the “Jordan Rivers” of our lives.

God makes all His best people in loneliness. That is so demonstrable. You study the great souls in the Bible, those great souls – they walked alone — alone with God. Just like great eagles that soar, they fly alone.

That loneliness is hard to endure, and impossible to enjoy unless God is really within you. But that’s how you can tell He is really living in your heart. You will enjoy it!

God makes us His, alone. He takes us out to be alone to make us Holy. And Holiness is real Happiness. I believe it is because He knows how dangerous co-dependency is. Faith in Jesus combined with action is the only thing that will bring you contentment. I have to be alone very often because of my work and travel schedule. I was so worried when it all started, now, I can’t wait to get alone with the Lord. That’s how I fully refuel.

My goal is GOD HIMSELF. Not joy, not peace, not even blessing – but HIMSELF. . .my GOD.

I lived for the praise, acceptance, and expectations of those around me. Now, I have an audience of ONE. Also, He is now the only One who gets a vote on my worth and value. Jesus had an audience of ONE, His Father. Only God knows why He takes us along these paths. All we can do is keep seeking God in Christ and let Him direct us. He loves you, you have the greatest value. He gave His life for all your worth!

From a Brother in Christ

Two weeks before our 10th anniversary my spouse walked out of the family home with my two children after engaging in multiple acts of adultery with multiple different people. I am now divorced (not my decision), I have sold that family home, split our assets, moved to a different town and have walked a LONG way through the valley of pain since that day.

When a person whom you believed would meet your emotional needs and create fulfillment within you fails to meet those needs, it creates a deep hole within.

We begin to question so many things!! We feel upset, angry, and fearful. For me fear was the overriding emotion.

  • What will this do to me?
  • What will this do to my children?
  • How will I ever heal from this?

At the point of my anniversary I had NO idea what to do or how to heal. But I came to a place where I genuinely surrendered the situation and the outcome of my life to God.

I did NOT have peace or joy when I surrendered it to God, I still felt the pain and fear but I had made a conscious decision to trust God with the process. It was a time of great trial.

Fast forward to nearly 7 months later and I was still grappling with the separation and pain, but still surrendered to God’s will and plan. At this point I was focused on a Christian book that used Isaiah as a springboard to talk about the healing that we can find in Christ. It talked about the fact that Jesus used these prophetic words to illustrate that He was the one who would bind up our wounds, heal our hearts and set us free. And I wanted that far more than anything else!

God graciously opened my eyes and heart to see that in Christ I was loved and accepted without reservation! That the only one who had any right to reject me actually chose to give His life for me!!!

As I saw this, my heart was set free from needing approval or acceptance from my spouse and I knew SO much joy. I knew that if I never had my spouse again I would be more than ok.

And, I am more than ok.

Nearly 2.5 years after my spouse requested a divorce, I AM divorced and all that I feared DID happen, plus more. The trials were so severe that I could not have imagined them. But I am 100% ok and I am thriving in all aspects of life. I enjoy companionship and the love and presence of God in a tangible, incredible way that I did not think possible before I experienced it. I have experienced answers to prayer, fulfillment, and joy that I had no idea was possible. Truly the treasures of heaven are found in Christ.

God has met my needs emotionally, spiritually and physically in every way I needed.

Interestingly, my prayers for a reconciliation were not answered and I realise now that those prayers were made because I wanted to find my identity in my spouse. God could not allow that, my identity must be in Him. Now, I do not pray for a reconciliation, in fact I am reluctant to consider a reconciliation given the history between us. Now I pray for my ex-spouse’s salvation and for my ex-spouse to experience God’s love, as that is of primary importance.

When we try to find our identity in another person we find ourselves in bondage to that person.

When we receive validation, we feel ok. When we do not receive validation, we feel awful. But, when we receive all that God has for us in Christ we can feel ok whether we receive validation from our spouse or not! The words and actions that our spouse gives can be received as a gift when they are positive, recognised as coming from a wounded heart when they are not positive or used as a springboard for prayerful, personal evaluation if they are suggesting things about an area that we may need to grow in.

I pray that you will be able to see again, or maybe for the first time, just what you are worth to Christ. He gave ALL that He was to purchase you, to have you for His own, He ADORES you and wants to know you and love you in a way that you can not imagine. I pray that you are able to release your fear and hurt to God and enjoy this day with Him.

SHARE:

If you want to share a bit about your story and how you are learning to find contentment in Christ alone, you are welcome to share. If you are struggling in this area and want to talk about it, you are also welcome to share.

Much love!

RELATED:

If you are dealing with a very difficult marriage, please check out the healing that is available to you in Christ at Nina Roesner’s eCourse Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity. There are lessons to read and watch. And there is a private forum there for women to heal and encourage each other.

A Big Lightbulb about True Contentment

Roots of  Insecurity

Finding God’s Victory over Fear

My Security Is in Christ Alone

A Lightbulb Moment about Loneliness

23 thoughts on “Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in Painful Trials

  1. Thank you to those of you who shared your brokenness and God’s healing so that others might be encouraged and inspired to put their trust in God alone ☺

    1. sallypoyzer,
      Thank you so much for sharing that this was a blessing to you. I’m very thankful to God for that!

  2. I just want to say how much your blog has meant to me for a few years now. I have never commented before, but today I feel compelled to say THANK YOU to everyone who shares their hearts and their journeys here. Today’s post is exactly what I needed.

    I have been married 43 years, since age 17 and I know I have made marriage an idol and looked to my husband for my identity and my value. He is a good man and a believer, but he is not God!! He came from a difficult family and he has emotional and spiritual wounds of his own. Me expecting him to fulfill and complete me seems ludicrous as I write this, nonetheless this is what I’ve done.

    The Lord has been showing me this for a long while, but sometimes I need a refresher course and today’s post was just that! I especially appreciate the gentleman sharing his story, I could so identify. Thanks again April for your loving ministry, may God bless all your efforts big time!

    1. Kim Hulzebos,

      What an honor to hear from you! I am so excited to hear about what the Lord has been doing in your heart. I know I personally need refreshers, myself. These sisters’ and brothers’ stories inspire me, too!

      I’m so thankful that you see that you can’t depend on your husband the way you would depend on Jesus. I did the same thing for many years and did a lot of damage in our marriage.

      I’m very grateful to hear a bit of your story. Thank you for the prayers and encouragement!

    2. Nikki,

      Such a tragic situation! This breaks my heart so much. For you and your siblings, for your mom, and for your dad. Thank you for sharing this. May we each learn from this example and choose God’s good, narrow, Life-giving way!

    3. Thank you Nikki for sharing this. I think the more wounded WE are, the more likely we will look to other humans to fulfill, complete, heal us. I have done this with other people too besides my husband. All the same results. They fail me (at least I believe they do), I become hurt, angry, disillusioned, etc. Praise God he has shown such mercy and love to me, that he has never quit bringing these issues to the forefront. Praise God I am not the same lonely, mixed up girl of 17! I am not finished yet! And God is not finished with my husband either!

      1. Hi Kim,
        I never thought of it that way. It makes perfect sense that the more wounded we are, the more likely we are to seek healing from other people.

        Praise God that He is here to bind up our wounded hearts, deliver us from strongholds, shine light in the dark corners of our hearts and comfort us who mourn.

        Praise God that he will give us beauty for ashes, oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

        God can work all of our trials for our good and make us more joyful and stronger than we ever imagined possible.

        “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
        because the Lord has anointed me
        to proclaim good news to the poor.
        He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
        to proclaim freedom for the captives
        and release from darkness for the prisoners,a
        to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
        and the day of vengeance of our God,
        to comfort all who mourn,
        and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
        to bestow on them a crown of beauty
        instead of ashes,
        the oil of joy
        instead of mourning,
        and a garment of praise
        instead of a spirit of despair.
        They will be called oaks of righteousness,
        a planting of the Lord
        for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61

        1. Nikki,

          I agree with Kim. And, of course, we are all wounded apart from Jesus. But yes, the more wounded we are, the more we go looking to broken cisterns and the more frustrated we get.

          I just shared that exact scripture passage with someone ten minutes ago. That is Jesus’ purpose in this world and in our lives! LOVE it!

  3. Hi April,
    I just read “I am responsible for my emotions” and this part struck me deeply:

    “No one can rob me of the peace, love and joy of Christ. Those things are mine unless I chose to give them up. My husband cannot keep me from experiencing God’s joy. My mother cannot steal the peace Jesus has given to me – not unless I allow her to. My friends and coworkers cannot take away the gifts God has given to me in Christ. I have the power to keep these things as I abide in Christ and His Spirit overflows in me.”

    This is exactly what I want to experience. It reminds me of Psalm 16, which is my favourite psalm.

    Thanks so much for the raw honesty you display on this blog in telling us your story and the way you keep pointing us to Christ. When you’re in heaven, you will see the eternal and powerful value of your work in this blog.

    Mother Teresa said that we don’t all need to go to Calcutta to serve Christ. We all need to find our own Calcutta – our own personal ministry where people are suffering and need love and attention. All of us who read this blog are your own little Calcutta and you minister very well to us. I pray that we can all find our own Calcuttas and serve Christ as beautifully as you do.

    1. Nikki,
      I love that so many of us can share our stories together here. I think that is powerful!

      My prayer is that God might empower me to be steadfast, faithful, Spirit-filled, and that He might greatly increase and I might greatly decrease. That Jesus would be exalted with every word. And that He might bring those who need healing and provide the stories and posts they need.

      You can experience this. It is God’s will for you to live this way and He will lead you and heal you as You seek Him wholeheartedly and hold everything else very loosely.

      When you find you feel discouraged, disappointed in your husband, upset, negative, afraid, disillusioned, etc… that is a good time to go to the Lord alone and invite Him to help you check your motives and ask Him to help direct your heart and mind to Himself.

      One of the things I look forward to the most about heaven is to get to meet everyone the Lord was pleased to touch through this ministry and to get to hear all of the stories of God’s healing, transformation, and miracles!

      Yes, this is my Calcutta – reaching hurting women (believers and unbelievers) online for God’s kingdom. What a privilege to get a virtual front row seat to watch God’s power and love at work around the world in almost every country.

      Much love!

  4. How do you balance not making your husband an idol with not creating a spirit of independence within yourself? I get that your worth and security should be in Christ alone. I get that you should not make your husband an idol. I get that you should not go to the extent of trying so hard not to find your worth in your husband that you end up emotionally distancing yourself from him and finding it difficult to accept his expressions of love. I get all this – but how exactly do you do it?

    I sometimes seem to swing back and forth between the two, first idolizing my bf a little and then going, “GAHHH! I think I’m idolizing him! My worth should be in Christ! This has to stop!” Then I work so hard not to idolize him that when he does something nice for me, I sometimes find it hard to accept it and be happy about it, because I was trying so hard to be “independent!” And then I realize that I’ve created emotional distance, and I feel bad, close the emotional gap, and worry I’m idolizing him again.

    These three posters have powerful and valuable stories. However, I noticed that they all were able to find their worth in Christ alone when they went through trials. Is there a different procedure to follow when your life is hunky-dory and everything’s great between you and your significant other? This I guess is my main question. Thanks! 🙂

    Love,
    Flower

    1. Flower,

      That balance is something that I believe only the Lord can help us to achieve. There is a learning process. For sure. As you focus on the Lord and allow Him to fill you up, He will help you find the right balance. If you are working super hard – most likely – it is something you are trying to do in your own power.

      It is really, really easy to overanalyze and overthink all of this.

      Check out my friend, Lee Ann’s post today on http://www.peacefulsinglegirl.com and read her comments. I think she may have some of the answer you are looking for.

      Much love!

      1. Donna Stanly,

        So precious! Thank you for sharing a bit about your journey of faith with our sweet sister, Flower. 🙂

    2. How to Respect Your Husband without Making Him an Idol may also be helpful.

      Yes, the two people, especially, went through very severe trials and discovered how to depend on Jesus alone then. But we can do this even when there is not a trial. The procedure is the same. It is about holding everything else loosely and surrendering control and outcomes completely to the Lord. It is about deciding to trust Him and His Word much more than anyone or anything else. And it is about abiding in Christ.

  5. Hi April,
    Following from your comments before on your “Calcultta” i.e. your ministry of helping hurting women, I sometimes wonder how you balance the demands of this ministry with your responsibilities towards your family. The reason I’m wondering about this is that I know many people who grew up hating and resenting church because their mothers spent all of their time and energy giving to various church ministries to the point where the kids felt neglected and ignored, as if the church stole their mother. I also know quite a few men who complain bitterly about the time their wives spend in church and working on charitable projects. Because of that, I have stayed away from church ministries because I don’t want to lose my focus on my family. I would like to get involved but I worry that I’ll get too distracted.

    Would you consider doing a post on how we can find balance between our public ministries and our service to our husbands and children? I’m sure that many women would benefit from a post like that and many husbands and children would be finally able to get the attention that they need.

    Much love,
    Nikki

      1. Nikki,

        It is very tricky to get the balance just right with my priorities. I have to have time with God, time with Greg, time with my kids, time for chores, time for work, time for ministry, and time for writing.

        I try to listen carefully to my family’s feedback and God’s feedback. I have a prayer team that prays for me, my family, and my ministry. And sometimes I have to take breaks if things are not in balance.

        It is very easy to make ministry into an idol. That is ultimately harmful to my family, my readers, and myself if I do so.

        Great question!

  6. Here is a quote I am planning to share on my FB page tomorrow that may be a blessing…

    Obedience can ask with boldness at the throne of grace, and those who are obedient are the only ones who can ask in that way… If you have an earnest desire to pray well, you must learn how to obey well… If you want free access to God in prayer, then every obstacle of sin or disobedience must be removed. God delights in the prayers of His obedient children.
    – E. M. Bounds in “The Necessity of Prayer”

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