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Facing Uncertainty and Trials with Joy

Every believer faces tests where we crash up against suffering, trials, and the unknown. We don’t like that! We want to feel like we know what is going to happen. We want guarantees. Timelines. Promises. We want to feel like we have control. Sometimes, we would rather even push for a bad outcome if only we can just “get closure” and not have to bob around in an ocean of not-knowing any longer.

It is often the waiting and not knowing one way or the other that seems like such torture.

This issue is not confined to uncertainty in our marriages, it covers everything in our lives.

How can I possibly rest in the peace and sovereignty of God when there is constant uncertainty and no way for me to know what will happen?

GOD’S WORD ABOUT TRIALS AND SUFFERING FOR BELIEVERS IN CHRIST

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6
  • I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
  • We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance. Rom. 5:3
  • For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Rom. 8:18
  • Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Rom. 12:12
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7
  • Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? Heb. 12:7
  • Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
  • Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
  • Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Pet. 4:12

I believe that if we can understand that God has purpose behind the suffering we experience and behind the times we have to wait in uncertainty, we can embrace the good things He wants to accomplish in our lives during those times.

These trials are often gifts and blessings from Him in disguise IF we are willing to trust Him completely and receive all that He has for us in them.

GOD HAS MUCH GREATER GOALS IN MIND

We tend to think primarily about our current comfort level, health, and happiness. We focus on our human wisdom and what seems best to us in the moment.

God focuses on:

  • Conforming us, our husbands, children, and others in our lives to the image of Christ over the long term.
  • His Kingdom and how He wants it to grow and how He wants to use our situations in our lives to help accomplish bringing more of His beloved children to Christ.

This kind of spiritual growth doesn’t happen when we get everything we want and have smooth sailing.

We tend to grow the most when we get really stretched by difficulties.

It is similar to the way that if we don’t use our muscles, they will atrophy and get weak. Our faith is like that. In order for our faith to grow, it has to face resistance. When we have times of difficulty and times where we don’t know what will happen, we are forced to learn to depend on the Lord in ways that we just wouldn’t if things were going well.

This takes much spiritual wrestling sometimes. And that is okay! Times of waiting and suffering are hard. But they often produce great results when they are in the right hands:

  • If land never has rain or storms, it becomes a barren desert.
  • If gold is not refined, it contains many impurities that weaken it and make it much less valuable.
  • If a farmer will not wait for his crops to grow, he will never get to enjoy the harvest.
  • If a fruit tree is not properly pruned, the branches grow in crazy ways that cause the limbs of the tree to break as the fruit begins to get heavy. The tree can’t produce as much fruit and the fruit is not nearly as sweet for an unpruned tree. It also looks terrible – broken branches everywhere and no pleasing shape.

God knows what our souls need to grow and to become very valuable in His sight. If we are able to trust God’s heart for us, we can know that whatever pain or time of waiting and uncertainty we face, He absolutely can and will use it for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. That is a promise to those who are in Christ – Romans 8:28-29!

PRAYER WHEN WE ARE FACING THE UNKNOWN, TRIALS, AND SUFFERING:

Lord,

You alone are God. There is no other. You reign in majesty and splendor from the throne room of the highest heaven over all of the universe. You are sovereign. You are good. You are love. You have all wisdom. You have all truth. You can’t have evil motives toward me. You are an Expert at turning disasters and tragedies into beautiful things for Your glory. You are the Healer. You are my Strength and my Shield, a very present Help in trouble. You are my Very Great Reward. There is no greater treasure in the universe than You. You spared nothing to provide for my salvation when I was still Your enemy. You sent Jesus to live and die in my place. Now His holiness, goodness, power, peace, joy, and right-standing with You are mine. His life, death, and resurrection belong to me. I am seated with Him in the heavenlies already!

You are intimately aware of all of my fears, my suffering, my needs, and my concerns. I thank You for that. You walk this road with me, living in me, empowering me with Your Spirit. I lay down every single fear and all of my desires and dreams. Here are the things I desire…

But – more than any of these things, I desire You. I want to know You and love You more. I want to give You total access and freedom in my life  to conform me to the image of Christ in whatever ways You know are best. I want Your glory. I want others to be drawn to Christ. I want Your kingdom to come into this situation and many to come to Jesus. I want to receive all the spiritual treasures You have for me to learn. I don’t want to waste a moment of this trial – but have my eyes open to all You have in store – for the adventure that awaits.

I praise and thank You now for all You are doing and all You will do through this very situation for Your good purposes in my life and in my husband’s life and in our family. I entrust it all to Your strong, capable hands. I know You will never fail me. I know You will never leave me or forsake me. I cling to Your Word and Your promises. I will sing praises to You even in the storm, knowing You will cause this storm to bear much fruit in my life.

Amen!

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How have you learned to approach trials and suffering with joy, anticipation, and faith?

 

 

Does God Call Women to Be Weak?


First of all, we need to understand that the world’s definitions of strength and weakness are very different from God’s.

In the world:

  • Power means having the ability to do whatever I want to do.
  • Weakness means not being able to do exactly what I want to do all the time.

So power means I have total control to do what I think is best. It is all about self being on the throne of my life.

In God’s kingdom:

  • Power is about having the ability (totally from the Holy Spirit) to obey God and walk in holiness.
  • Weakness is about trusting self, living in sin, having a lack of faith in God, living apart from fellowship with God, and using human wisdom and strength.

God calls all believers to crucify our old sinful selves. There is no help for my sinful self. I can’t make it “better” enough in God’s sight. He doesn’t have plans to make my old self better, either. It is impossible. I don’t just need washing or sprucing up. I am not an old house that just needs a bit of renovations. In God’s eyes, nothing from my old self is salvageable. It is only fit for crucifixion. Time to bring in the bulldozers and completely raze the old house. My old self is fit only for condemnation and death.

God doesn’t call me to be weak. He calls me to be dead.

Dead to this world. Dead to sin. Dead to fleshly pleasure. Dead to human wisdom. Dead to my own efforts. Dead to my desires and my will. Dead to my pride that there could be any good in me or that I could possibly please the Lord on my own.

Every part of my old self must go to the cross to die with Jesus. I can’t keep my strengths, weaknesses, or anything else. All must be laid on the altar. All must be completely sacrificed and burned to ashes.

Of course, He calls men to do the same.

  • Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

(For more on this, please read Romans 6.)

Thankfully, God doesn’t just call me to be dead. 🙂 He also calls me to live a new life in Christ.

This is where many of us don’t understand ahead of time. How could we, really, if we haven’t experienced it yet? It would be as difficult for us to understand in advance as it would be for a caterpillar to imagine being a butterfly one day, wouldn’t it?

Sometimes we see that we are called to die to self. We see that we give up our will, our desires, and our dreams. We have to wrap ourselves in that dreaded cocoon. All we see is misery, confinement, and death. It seems awful to have to completely surrender self to God. That seems too great a sacrifice from our perspective before self has been crucified.

What we don’t realize yet is that when we yield to God in this way, when we give ALL of ourselves to Him in total surrender, obedience, and trust, He gives ALL of Himself to us. What we gave up was trash. What Jesus gives to us in return is great treasure – Himself! Because I am “in Christ” – His death belongs to me. But also His Life belongs to me. Everything He has and all that He is becomes mine because we are one in Spirit now. He is the head and I am part of His body – the church. His death was my death. His resurrection is my resurrection. I come out on the other side of the cross with new wings and a new body, just like that beautiful butterfly.

But I didn’t cause myself to sprout my own wings. It is not because of my efforts, goodness, or abilities that I am now a butterfly. It is because of God’s power, alone.

Now I can receive all of Jesus’:sean-stratton-60953

  • Spiritual power.
  • Victory over sin.
  • Holiness.
  • Obedience to God.
  • Goodness.
  • Perfect thinking.
  • Desires.
  • Will.
  • Spiritual treasures.
  • Spiritual authority to accomplish His will on earth.
  • Fellowship with God.
  • Wisdom.
  • Plans for me.

A butterfly has no resemblance to the caterpillar she once was. Her old life is over. Her mouth is very different. Her legs are very different. Her body is completely different. Her diet is totally different. A butterfly no longer wants the food she used to eat as a caterpillar! She needs a new food. Her mode of transportation and habitat are different. She has a brand new purpose and incredible beauty.

So it is when we die to our earthly self and begin to experience the life of Christ in us. We are completely different.

We have a new Spirit and a new purpose. A new diet. A new habitat. God calls us to soar on wings like eagles as we live in His power (Isa. 40:31).

God’s ways are always totally opposite of the world’s ways. God calls me to do things as a believer and woman like:

  • Honor my husband’s leadership.
  • Respect my husband.
  • Forgive those who sin against me.
  • Love my enemies.
  • Humble myself before Him and before others.
  • Repay evil with good.
  • Seek fulfillment in Him alone, not in anyone or anything else.
  • Trust His wisdom more than my own.
  • Humble myself so that He will raise me up to a place of glory.

God’s wisdom is never about weakness.

The world may view God’s ways as weakness – because the old sinful self doesn’t get anything. It is dead in a tomb!

But in God’s kingdom, things that seem foolish to the world are wise and powerful. When God’s will is done, everyone is blessed and His kingdom grows by leaps and bounds here on earth and in heaven!

When I give up the world’s wisdom and its ways, the only thing I lose is my ability to destroy my relationships and myself. I gain the power of heaven to experience all of the blessings and spiritual riches of Jesus Christ. Not just in heaven, but now!

When I am fully yielded in submission to Christ as my Lord, I am not weak. I have the very power of God to accomplish God’s will and His purposes. Not because I am good. But because Jesus is good and He is living in and through me.

There is a principle in scripture that the weaker I am, and as I reckon myself dead to this world and self, the stronger Christ is in me! (Romans 6:11, 2 Cor. 12:9) Now I come into relationships from a position of great strength and victory in Christ. Victory over sin. Victory over death. Victory over the flesh. Now I have God’s ability to pour healing, goodness, and Life into my relationships. I am like a big wide-open pipe that is now able to let God’s Spirit gush through me into the lives of everyone around me. My only strength is found in Jesus! I long for everyone to get to experience this new life!

  • God’s version of femininity and masculinity are so much stronger than anything we could experience in this world.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17

 

RELATED:

Godly Femininity

Dying to Self

Dying to Self Can Be Dangerously Misunderstood

The Offense of the Cross – Austin Sparks

The Blessing of Knowing about Hell

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

 

If you want to talk about how you can become a follower of Christ, please leave me a comment. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

FreeinChrist Stands for Something Way Bigger Than Her Marriage

Note – for a post about resetting our Valentine’s Day expectations, please click on this link.

I’m so thankful for this wife’s willingness to share her story. It is not all neatly tied up in a bow. Things are not good in her marriage, to say the least. But – check out what God has done in this dear sister’s heart! It is glorious! 

And we ALL have access to this kind of healing in Jesus. Her experience is not unique. What God has done and is doing in this wife’s heart is what a “normal” Christian walk should look like. 🙂 I long for each of us to experience Christ like this for ourselves – no matter what may happen with our marriages and our husbands. He is Real Life and Real Love!

———–

The Lord has been leading me to study Elijah for the past couple of months. Another thing He’s been speaking to me about is that something is about to happen in my marriage situation – telling me to “get ready” and that He makes “all things new.” The signs have been nothing short of miraculous, even though I don’t have any specifics, or a timeframe.

When my husband first left me and started pursuing divorce in 2015, the Lord told me to stand in the gap for my husband to come home to Him, Daddy – God, first and foremost. God showed me that my husband was a prodigal, and we all know how that story turns out – the Father showed unconditional love and forgiveness, and there was eventual reconciliation!

Having a reconciled marriage is way on down the list though, after my husband’s salvation and reconciliation to his Heavenly Father – so this “stand” is about something way bigger than my marriage!!

It’s not easy to stay encouraged when you see things that look opposite to what God told you… A facebook friend called me to tell me that she saw pictures of my husband with another woman on social media.

NOTE – Let me interject a quick note right here and say that this is not something that I recommend doing- at all! People who are separated, and praying for marriage reconciliation, don’t need things like this pointed out because it’s just plain hurtful and discouraging. *It is NOT too big for God to handle, so why be the bearer of bad news? Take it to the Lord and let Him reveal whatever He wants that person to know.

I was quite upset to receive this information b/c I’d been fighting so hard for my marriage, praying against adultery, and I honestly thought that the relationship my husband entered into right after he left had ended months prior. It felt crushing, and then it quickly became obvious that this was a test of my faith.

WHAT NOW, LORD?

So I asked God what He wanted me to believe, and what I should do now?

 

I went to church. My prayer was still, “What do I do now – it looks so hopeless? Should I still believe what You’ve told me Lord – that You want to restore things and that ‘something’s’ about to happen soon? Do I give up now, or keep standing firm?” I wondered if it was a test from God – to see if I’d believe what He’d spoken to me for weeks, IN SPITE OF what my eyes were now seeing. Hmmm.

  • It felt like Father was saying “do you still believe Me now that what you see looks THIS bad?”

He’s constantly told me to walk by faith and not by sight, but it’s hard to do when you see things in the natural realm that look so hopeless. I’m working on learning to believe what I see in the Spiritual, over what I see in the natural.

Our worship leader stopped in the middle of the song (which just happened to be THE song that The Lord has used most powerfully in my life this past year – Resurrecting by Elevation Worship) and he pulled out his Bible – said he wanted to share a story that we needed to hear.

It was the story of when Elijah prayed for rain but there was no cloud in sight [1 Kings 18:41-45] He said something to the effect of “there are a lot of people who have been praying for something for a long time but you don’t see anything happening. You need to know today that your prayers have been heard. God will do what He promised, but you must persevere and wait to see it. Get ready b/c it’s about to rain!!!”

Yes, Jesus! He used Elijah again – He knew that I’d pay attention b/c He’d already spoken to me about Elijah. Praise God!! I have symbolically pulled out my umbrella, rain coat, and wellies!! I’m ready for a downpour, Father!!

  • p_hya_t-1wu-david-marcuTHEN another breakthrough happened at the end of the sermon. The pastor asked, “What’s the one thing in your life that is so important to you that you feel you’d just fall apart if it was taken from you?”

A year ago I would’ve said “my husband/marriage.” And now that my dad may literally need a new heart (b/c his has become too weak to sustain him adequately) I’ve also felt that I couldn’t bear it if he was taken away from me anytime soon. “Please Lord, not my husband AND my Daddy!”

But in that moment when the pastor was asking that significant question,

I realized that the ONLY thing I can’t bear to lose is Jesus! It was a beautiful and freeing realization. AND I’m never going to have to worry about losing Him anyway! Amen?!!

It doesn’t mean I’ll never struggle again as I continue to walk this path – I’m sure I’ll be asking for prayers and encouragement again soon, as they help me endure. But at least now…

I’m absolutely sure that I’ll survive, and THRIVE, no matter what happens!

Praise the Lord for the mighty work He’s done in my heart and life these past 19 months since my husband left! Can’t wait to see what God does next! Please keep my husband and I in your prayers as this story continues to play out. It’s not over yet – praise the Lord!!

Yesterday as I was praying in my kitchen I had the realization that this is the first time in my entire life when I’ve truly loved myself and accepted myself as I am. I feel more freedom than I’ve ever felt before! I am someone that I would actually want to be friends with, and hang out with, and have in my inner circle. I am someone who is worthy of love (because God created me).

I have spent so much of my life with an oppressive Spirit over me, and agreeing with the lies of the enemy.

I was in so much bondage but I didn’t even know it until the Lord opened my eyes and then He set me free! Now I can’t imagine going back to the way that I was living before. Everything is not “perfect” and my husband is still a captive of the enemy – my marriage still looks deader than dead.

But God has transformed ME and changed my life!!

I feel a sense of peace and joy that I’ve never known before. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m going to be fine – even great – no matter what happens with my marriage, or any other situation I face.

I finally know (and BELIEVE) that I am who God says I am – loved, chosen, blessed, worthy, accepted, free, precious, priceless- a daughter of the King!! Praise the Lord!

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

THIS is exactly my prayer for each of us! That we might know God like this and know who we are in Christ like this! 🙂

RELATED:

A Divorce and Reconciliation Story by The Restored Wife

Kirsten’s Story – a Peaceful Separated Wife

A Separated Wife Finally Begins to Experience God’s Peace in Her Life

My Two Year Anniversary As a Separated Wife

Should a Christian Wife Consider Separation?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should a Christian Wife Consider Separation?

I long for all of us to honor marriage the way God desires us to.

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Heb. 13:4)

MARRIAGE IS A COVENANT

God designed marriage. It is a covenant – which is much more than a promise. God’s plan is for marriage to last until death. The covenant goes three ways, not just between two people, but between a husband, wife, and God.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

Haven’t you read,” he (Jesus) replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matt. 19:4-6

 

MY DESIRE FOR MARRIAGES

For wives dealing with mild-moderate issues:

These are situations where we would need to turn to Christ and allow Him to work full blast in our hearts to empower us to be the women and wives He calls us to be. Then we would be able to pray from a position of great strength in Christ and invite Him in to heal our marriages and husbands for His glory. He can direct our steps and grant us His wisdom and discernment as we completely submit to His Lordship. He can also work in our husbands’ hearts in ways we can’t begin to fathom, no matter what our situation may be. Let’s not separate if it is not necessary.

For wives facing really severe issues:

The same things I shared in the above paragraph would apply. But we may also prayerfully decide to reach out for appropriate help: godly counseling, prayer support, pastoral support, medical help, even help from the police, if necessary. By severe issues, I am referring to things like major drug/alcohol addictions, physical abuse, severe emotional/spiritual abuse, threats of violence, uncontrolled dangerous mental health issues, severe unrepentant sin issues, unrepentant adultery, certain dangerous illegal activities, etc…

If anyone is truly in danger and being genuinely threatened, I would personally love to see them get somewhere safe. I don’t want anyone – men, women, or children – to be beaten or killed by those who are supposed to love and protect them. God hates violence, oppression, and abuse.

For women in “gray areas”:

Here, it can be more difficult to tell what we should do. I don’t have the wisdom wives need in every situation. But God definitely does! Again, it will be essential that we allow God to help us get rid of any sin in our own hearts. Then we can allow God to transform our hearts and minds by His Word and His Spirit’s power. Then we can discern exactly what God desires us to do. He knows what each of us need to do and He generously gives His wisdom to us when we ask in faith. (James 1:5)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

It is critical that we check our motives. Am I truly seeking to honor Christ above all else? Or do I want to do this because of selfishness, resentment, hatred, pride, or lack of faith in God? Am I acting in the flesh or in the Spirit of God? Have I dealt with any sin in my own life thoroughly and am I seeing clearly and know that this is what God would desire me to do?

AVOIDING EXTREMES

It is easy to go to extremes and say things like:

  • No wife should ever separate from her husband for any reason!
  • Wives should be able to leave for any reason!

The difficult thing is godly balance. That is true about every issue in the Christian walk, it seems. My desire is for us to handle God’s Word rightly and to live in ways that please Him in every area of our lives. We tend to want rules and lists about what we should do. God does give us some of that – but what He desires most is for us to learn to depend totally on Him and to learn to hear His voice and obey Him.

If you haven’t read my post from last Friday, please check it out: “My Primary Goal As a Wife Has to Be This One Thing

WHAT DOES GOD’S WORD SAY ABOUT SEPARATION?

God, Himself, commands wives not to separate from their husbands.

Separation is not the normal pattern. The normal pattern is for us to follow the first command below not to separate from our husbands. The option of separation is given only for true emergencies.

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. (1 Cor. 7:10-11)

A decision to separate is a HUGE thing. If I found myself in a possible situation where this could be necessary, I would have to approach this with much prayer, and fasting. I would also likely seek extremely wise, godly counsel with a very trusted pastor or Spirit-filled Christian counselor. A decision to divorce would be even bigger. There are not many biblical reasons for a believer to seek a divorce.

  • Let’s be so careful not to run ahead of God but to seek to do His will! So many women leave their marriages today for unbiblical reasons. Let’s be sure that we are honoring Christ as LORD and honoring our marriage covenant.
  • Another risk is to be in a very bad situation where we know we should leave but we lag behind and don’t obey God right away, exposing our children and ourselves to more extremely toxic things or danger.

If you don’t know Christ or you can’t hear God’s direction clearly, seek someone who is very spiritually mature and experienced in Christian counseling who is living wholeheartedly for Christ. If you have really serious issues, seek out an appropriate counselor who is experienced with dealing with those kinds of issues, as well. Ask for God to lead you to the counselor and resources you need. Evaluate the counselor and resources you find against scripture. Test them to be sure they are in line with God’s Word.

A lot of wives in very difficult marriages are experiencing God’s healing and wisdom through Nina Roesner’s eCourse Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity. I would encourage you to check that out when things begin to get tough. It may spare you from having to even consider a physical separation as you begin to heal more in Jesus and you begin to hear the Spirit more clearly about how to handle your husband’s issues.

IF YOU HAVE AN UNBELIEVING SPOUSE

Scripture has encouragement for you.

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 1 Cor. 7:12-14

IF YOUR HUSBAND LEAVES YOU

Scripture also has words of wisdom for you.

But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Cor. 7:15-16

MARRIAGE IS IMPORTANT, BUT JESUS IS MOST IMPORTANT

I don’t believe a wife should stay in a marriage “at any cost.” Marriage is very important, but it is not more important than our walk with Christ. Jesus must be THE most important thing by a long shot in our lives.

The Greatest Commandment is that we love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. We are not to love anything or anyone else this way. This requires discernment. (Let’s talk about this together if it doesn’t seem clear.)

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:25-27, 33)

Of course, the second greatest commandment is that we are to love others as we love ourselves. And we are also commanded not to hate anyone. So Jesus clearly doesn’t mean we are literally to hate our family members in this passage. What I believe He is saying is that our love for Him is to be so much greater than our love for anyone else that our love for our families and our own lives would look like hate compared to our love and devotion to Him.

If my husband asked me to commit some very clear sin in order to stay with him, I would have to refuse to do so because my first allegiance is to Jesus. Here, I am not talking about something that is just a difference in personal preference, a minor interpretation issue, or a difference in personal convictions. But egregious sin.

If he asked me to have an abortion, to have a threesome, to help him rob someone, to join a cult, to worship him as god, to help him traffic cocaine, to condone his beating our children (not spanking, but beating), to cover for him committing murder, to endorse him having an affair or engaging in sex with a prostitute…. I would not be able to honor those requests. I have a responsibility to be sure I am not participating in clear sin or illegal activity myself.

Sometimes a husband may be involved in a sin issue and a wife may not have to leave. But some sin issues are so severe that a wife may need to leave. This requires great wisdom and the direction of the Spirit to be able to tell the difference. We need God’s wisdom not human wisdom.

AVOID SEPARATION IF IT IS TRULY NOT NECESSARY

We serve a mighty God who is sovereign and who is in the business of turning our big messes into beautiful things for His glory. I would hate for anyone to separate prematurely or unadvisedly and miss out on the miracles God wanted to do if only one of the spouses had trusted Him fully and stayed to allow God to work.

If I left when things were at their worst in my marriage, I would have missed out on so many incredible spiritual treasures God wanted to share with me about Himself. I would have missed out on all the spiritual growth and refining He wanted to do in my life. I would also have missed out on seeing God heal my husband and our marriage. It would be tragic to have missed out on God’s blessings if I had left when I shouldn’t have. God often uses trials and suffering to help us to grow.

However, if a wife really does need to leave because of an emergency, that doesn’t mean the marriage is over or that her situation is beyond God’s reach. It is possible for God to heal a marriage after separation and even after a divorce.

SEPARATION IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY

Even if a wife believes she must separate – my prayer would be for spiritual healing in Christ (starting with salvation) for the husband, for healing for any addiction, for genuine repentance of any sin, and for eventual reconciliation if at all possible. I long to see every marriage become a godly, healthy marriage that shines for God’s kingdom.

No matter what our husbands may choose to do, we can know that God will use all things for good for us because we love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28-29). When things are good or when they are horrible, we can yield ourselves fully to His will and invite Him to use our lives for His greatest glory. We can rest in His sovereignty and His promises to us.

May God empower each of us to be faithful and obedient to Him!

NOTE:

I am not going to be able to address everyone’s possible situations who think they may need to separate or who have separated or have gotten a divorce in the past. I know it will be tempting for everyone to want to share their particular situation here and get other people’s opinions. But it is very difficult to know what is truly happening in a marriage just from hearing one side of the story briefly online.

Sometimes other people’s opinions online can make things more confusing for a wife who is already confused. I don’t always know exactly what every wife should do in every possible scenario. I don’t want to mislead anyone. I know that God’s wisdom is what is needed, not mine. Ultimately this decision is between a wife, her husband, and the Lord. We will each answer to Him.

If you want to share something encouraging for our hurting sisters, that would be lovely. 🙂

** There is a one-time free Christian counseling service with Christian counselors and chaplains available at Focus on the Family with a free referral service, which may be a blessing.

RESOURCES:

Nina Roesner’s eCourse for women in difficult marriages Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity

Verses about divorce

What Does the Bible Say about Divorce and Remarriage? – by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about a Trial Separation? – by www.gotquestions.org

Gary Thomas writes about how the church should view abuse in marriage and about how to help women who are suffering at the hands of an abusive husband

John Piper’s articles on Divorce and Remarriage

A Peaceful Separated Wife (a wife whose husband left her)

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

When Your Husband Says, “I’m Done.”

Is Divorce the Worst Thing That Can Happen? – a Peaceful Wife VIDEO

God Stops a Wife’s Plans to Divorce

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

My Primary Goal As a Wife Has to Be This One Thing

Reminder – I have a conference in Eaton, Ohio February 25th and a conference in Columbia, South Carolina March 24th-25th. You are most welcome to come!

Marriage meets many needs and fulfills a number of purposes in our lives, in our families, the church, and in society. A healthy marriage:

  • Brings stability to society.
  • Teaches the next generation how to have healthy relationships.
  • Is to be a safe place to raise children and for them to learn what love is.
  • Can meet both spouse’s needs for companionship.
  • Can be a place of wonderful friendship.
  • Is the only place where God condones and celebrates sex.
  • Can be a place of romance and fun.
  • Can provide financial stability and resources.

But there is an even greater purpose for marriage that I can’t ever forget.

God’s greatest purpose in marriage is that marriage is supposed to display the gospel of Christ and it is to bring great glory and honor to Him.

My marriage is about so much more than just me. It is about much more than just my husband or just our children. It is ultimately about something infinitely higher.

  • Marriage is to be a living parable demonstrating the relationship between Christ and the church where the husband is to portray the love, humility, selflessness, and sacrificial leadership of Christ. The wife is to portray the honor, respect, and submission of the church for Christ. (Eph. 5:22-33)
  • When we as wives focus on our role and what God calls us to do – the gospel is exalted – and the same is true when husbands focus on the role God gives to them and walking in submission to Christ as Lord.
  • If we choose to disrespect our husbands and dishonor God’s design for us as wives and for marriage, we malign the gospel of Christ. (Titus 2:3-5)

This is a very lofty goal, my precious sisters. Marriage is no longer about me being happy,  me having my way all the time, or me having control. It is not about my husband being the most important thing or about me seeking to please him at any cost. It is about me completely yielding my heart, my mind, my life, all that I am, all that I desire, all of my fears, all of my purposes, my marriage, and my family to God to accomplish His purposes. Whatever He sees fit. My eyes have to be on eternity and God’s kingdom now – not just today or this lifetime.

Now my heart’s cry is:

Not my will, but Yours be done! Luke 22:42

As an individual believer in Christ, my purpose in life is similar.

  • I am to bring glory to God far above anything else. (1 Cor. 10:31)
  • I am to seek His will far above my own. (Luke 22:42)
  • I am to count myself dead to sin and this world and alive to God through Christ. (Romans 6:11)
  • I am to take up my cross daily. (Luke 9:23)
  • I am to be completely at God’s disposal, His trusted, faithful servant, willing to do anything He may ask of me. (John 14:22-24)
  • I am to view suffering as God’s tool to refine me and to grow my faith. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-8, 1 Peter 4:12-19)

This changes everything about how I relate to my husband (and everyone else, but we will focus on marriage in this post).

Now I don’t need to ask questions like:

The funny thing is, when I asked questions like this and my heart was not wholeheartedly yielded to God’s, I actually sabotaged my marriage. I kept God out because I didn’t trust Him. Then I was upset because my marriage was a mess. What a confused girl I was!

The scariest place in the world to me now is to trust self and to not trust God. When I yield everything to God and I am in fellowship with Him and His Spirit fills me, He also pours His healing and the spiritual treasures of heaven into my life and through me into my family and those around me. He withholds no good thing from those who belong to Him.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Psalm 84:11

Note  – the only way my walk can be blameless is when I allow God’s Spirit to live in and through me to empower me to obey Him.

Now I ask questions like:

Real peace comes as I know and love Christ wholeheartedly and as I trust Him completely with everything.

God’s Spirit can give us the power to stay when we may not feel like staying because we can look with an eternal perspective rather than an earthly one when we are abiding in Christ. He can give us the ability to love when maybe our husbands don’t deserve it. He can give us the power to treat our men with honor, dignity, and genuine respect – not because our husbands deserve it – but because Jesus deserves our utmost reverence and we want to submit to His Lordship completely.

When I am willing to obey God and I am filled to overflowing with His Spirit, His wisdom, and His power – there is no stopping God! He loves to do miracles and move mountains for those who fully trust Him. But I don’t love Him so that He will do what I want Him to do. I love Him and trust Him to do what He knows is best. I can ask Him to change my desires to match His.

His wisdom is infinitely greater than mine. I can rest in Him and His love and sovereignty no matter what my situation. I can trust His promises to me and anticipate how He is going to bring great good from even the most awful situations because He promised to do just that for those who love Him in Romans 8:28-29.

RELATED:

Verses on Suffering

Verses on the Lordship of Christ

Verses on Taking Up Our Cross

How to Stay Filled with the Spirit

Spiritual Authority

A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

 

What about wives who truly are in danger?

For those who are in very dangerous situations, the goal is still God’s greatest glory. His Word still applies. You still have His love. You are not beyond God’s reach! I pray that you will seek godly counsel and wisdom one-on-one from a trusted Christian counselor or pastor. Pray, seek to hear and obey God’s prompting for you.

I don’t know exactly what God desires every wife to do in every situation. But God has the wisdom each one needs. I don’t want to see anyone hurt or killed. I hate abuse and God sure hates abuse. There should not be hatred, rage, or violence in our relationships as believers.

God’s Word does provide for separation when something very serious is going on that can’t be resolved – in 1 Cor. 7:10-16 – but it is not to be entered into flippantly or without significant reason. This is not God’s primary plan and design for marriage. If we take such a step, as believing wives, we want to be SURE that we are doing so because it is necessary not just that we are unhappy, feeling unloved, or that things are just really hard. Marriage is a covenant between God, my husband, and myself. I want to keep my end of it until death do us part – may God help me to do so!

 

 

“How I Became Enmeshed with My Husband” – by LMS

ADMIN NOTE:

An update 3 weeks ago created many technical issues on my blog, unfortunately. Jetpack lost all by a few dozen of my WordPress and email followers. My understanding is that the issue should now be resolved. Thank you for your patience! If you haven’t been receiving emails from me, there are some posts you may have missed:

A Summary of the Stages of This Journey

Can I Be a “Peaceful American” Even Now?

My Husband Isn’t As Involved with Our Newborn As I Want Him to Be 

———–

A guest post by LMSdaily

I had a dad, but he was a workaholic. I was close to him, but never got enough of him. So, when I met my husband, who was very much into family, promising to adore me, cherish me, etc… he also said it was his job to make me happy….I believed it hook line and sinker.

It was no longer my job to make me happy and I was relieved of the duty in my mind. As I relied more and more on my husband to make me happy, more and more pressure was put on my husband. I was a black hole of need. It was too much.

He failed all the time (in my eyes) and there was no satisfying me. He felt like he could NEVER make me happy… nor could ANY man.

I never understood how this thinking acted like the death of a star…imploding on itself, then a massive explosion outward, until I realized what it meant that I had put my husband as an idol above God in my life. ONLY God can fill that endless need in our lives to help us feel loved, cherished, wanted, needed, worthy, valuable, and accepted. Our husbands are humans too. They make mistakes, have wrong ideas, thoughts, and ideas too. They are have sin issues at times and struggle with idols, too. Even if they are Christians. Understanding the imperfections of ourselves and others is crucial to the humility we need to feel before God. This humility helps us realize how imperfect we all are, and how perfect only God is.

One other thing I realized also was how incredibly “lazy” I was in my thoughts. It was very easy to just let my husband tell me how I should think, what to feel, what opinions I should have or to make all the decisions.

My family felt like I lost myself when I started following my husband’s every thoughts. I looked like a snob to them because my husband was judgmental, but I thought he was right to be that way. At that point, I stopped being his helper in life, or, I liken it to a co-pilot. Rather I was like an anchor, or another passenger he was responsible for. Dragging me along for the ride and not taking any responsibility for myself.

He had no one to help him think through his ideas, thoughts or to even run things by for a different perspective. I was blindly following him.

He may have been questioning his own path, but realized I was no help anyway to him… kind of foolishly clueless and blind in life. So he dragged me along out of responsibility. He didn’t have a helper because I was not interested in doing the brain work of thinking on my own. I am disgusted at my laziness when I look back at it.

Now, I have started to really think about it all. Even subjects I would avoid in the past, like finances, or deadlines, or cleaning out closets. This is something my husband is not used to. He is used to just making decisions and having no obstacles or contradictions. So, now, he sees me as something in his way. He thinks I’m arguing with him, that we think differently, that we are incompatible.

But the truth is, I have good ideas, valid concerns, and viewpoints too. My husband, having to now consider them, is irritated with my concerns. It’s like red tape to him. Of course, I don’t demand my way, but I bring up my concern in a respectful way, then leave the decision to him. If he is not trying to break the law or hurt someone, it’s fair to let him decide, but he gets my viewpoint too, nowadays. Not always. If I bring up a good point he had not considered, he gets irritated, because it was easier to just make the decision and live with it. But my point makes him have to think more, too. His conviction from the Holy Spirit and his responsibility as the head of the family is making him feel uncomfortable and not as sure. As he learns to trust me as a helper instead of an anchor, I hope he will find a value in me again. I’m sure this will take time.

For too long, in many ways, I think we both lived together, physically married, but really thought more as single people… not really understanding what “two becoming one” really meant. If my ways worked with his, or vice versa, then cool…no problems, but if not, he/I complained. That is a controlling attitude. Now, I am constantly thinking on how a desire or idea I have might affect him, not just me, and I want to choose what blesses him first, then me. I think more “married” than single now. Less self-centered, more wanting what is best for my husband and kids. But there is always a balance that needs to be made. I can’t just ignore my own desires and wishes either… that’s the starry-eyed groupie way. More of a doormat. To women, it can feel loving. To men, it feels like we are spineless and weak.

We need to be strong and whole as individuals before we can come together and be part of a unique being in a marriage.

My lack of a daddy figure basically was a hole that needed filling. Ideally, I should have had God fill that father role for us instead of my husband. Then, I could be a help meet in my husband’s life, not a groupie looking for attention from a man. This is why God is the great “I Am”, in our lives. He alone can fill those missing holes.

I will pray that you can seek God as a Dad in your life and feel the love, protection and attention you crave from Him. In this way, the love, protection and attention you receive from your husband will be extra. Icing on the cake – that you can enjoy as a treat – not daily living sustenance.

Look up the following subjects in April’s blog for more:
Oneness in Marriage – Not Too Close, and Not Too Far Away

Closeness in Marriage Looks Different from What I Expected – A Fellow Wife

How to Make Your Husband an Idol

I Was SURE I Hadn’t Made My Husband an Idol!

Fully Trusting God with My Husband – Laying Down All of My Fears 

LMSdaily’s posts

 

 

“Dying to Self” Can Be Dangerously Misunderstood

Last Thursday, I ran a post about “Dying to Self.” Today, I want to talk about how it is possible for someone to misunderstand the concept of “taking up your cross and following” Jesus to think that this means, “I must take abuse. My needs don’t matter. I have to let my husband beat me or abuse my children. I have to be a doormat.”

That is NOT what this concept is about. It is not about giving up our personhood or being a punching bag. It is also NOT about hurting ourselves or beating ourselves up. It is about seeking God’s will above our own. It is about knowing who we are in Jesus and knowing and receiving ALL He has done for us on the cross and through His resurrection. It is about living in a place of great spiritual strength in Christ, not a place of spiritual weakness.

There are different kinds of suffering in this life.

  • The suffering that happens because we are in a fallen world.
  • The suffering that happens due to our own sin.
  • The suffering we experience due to others’ sin against us.
  • The suffering that comes because we voluntarily do what is right.
  • The suffering that comes because God is disciplining us.

God calls us to lay aside our old sinful nature and live for Him. My old sinful self is no longer to be on the throne of my heart. Jesus is now my Master. So when I talk about “dying to self” I am talking primarily about suffering I experience because I decide to live for Christ as LORD no matter what the cost. It is about self-sacrifice in a way that brings honor and glory to God. It is not suffering for the sake of suffering. It is not suffering because I just have to sit and take abuse if I have the ability to leave. It is suffering for the sake of doing God’s will. If this doesn’t make sense, let me know and let’s talk about this some more. 🙂

There may be times when a believer is persecuted and may suffer for the Gospel by being imprisoned, by losing his/her job, or by being physically punished. That kind of suffering may be inevitable. But suffering at the hands of an abusive spouse or self-abuse is something that we can rightly seek to avoid. Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified because that was God’s will to bring about salvation. Other times when people tried to kill Him, He slipped away.

NOTE:

There can be confusion about this idea of dying to self, or the concepts that are like it in Scripture. One reason I think this happens is that from God’s perspective, we are already dead and crucified in Christ. We are already dead to this world and alive to God through Jesus. To Him, that happened 2000 years ago on the cross. It is a done deal sealed by the finished work of Jesus on the cross. He did EVERYTHING necessary to make us right with God. We have already been justified. To be justified means that Jesus completely paid our sin debt in full. It is an accounting term.

But then, there are also all of these commands about us participating in this process on a daily basis as we follow Jesus. So we are involved in “picking up our cross,” “putting to death the misdeeds of the body,” and making ourselves “living sacrifices” for God moment by moment. It is a continual mindset of surrender of self and yielding to the Lordship of Christ. Yes, this is the process of sanctification which continues for our lifetimes until we reach heaven. 🙂 It is that process of learning to live out and experience all that Jesus has done for us in our daily lives.

We absolutely must guard against a works-based salvation. We are all prone to want to go to that in our pride – to think that we can somehow earn what Jesus did for us on the cross ourselves. But we cannot!

The ONLY way we can have power and victory over sin is through the power of God’s Spirit working in us. We don’t have power in our own sinful flesh to do this.

From an Anonymous Wife:

Because I come from a background with a lot of out-of-control sin from adult authorities, I had a very distorted understanding of the meanings of things. And then coming to church and hearing blanket statements made as if everyone had the same lexicon made it even more confusing for me. “Dying to self” was one of those things that really frightened and terrorized me a bit.

When you live with abuse, your very self is being attacked as if its somehow wrong for you to live and exist and as if there is nothing good about you. You are being told all the time that you are bad, worthless, etc.

Then I get to church and hear the self being talked about as if its a bad thing too. It was years before my reasoning skills and theological understanding developed enough for me to even understand what was being talked about, so I couldn’t even articulate my difficulties for a long time! I thought God agreed with the abuse I suffered because of that and that my feelings about it were irrelevant to Him because they were part of self! Worse, I met Christians who actually thought that way. Now, hoping I indeed have gotten it, lol, here is what I think it means.

How I understand this now is that when Jesus asks us to deny ourselves, He is not talking about systematically trying to annihilate anything that is us. He is more likely talking about the self that is part of the sinful nature, the flesh.

It can also include our will when what we want is contrary to what God wants. But it does not mean that the person you are as far as your unique identity or personality equipment as God designed it,is what needs to die. I like animals and art and living in the country. That is not bad, its part of who I am as a person. There is no sin in it, of itself.

However, if God was calling me to move to an inner city neighborhood where he wanted me to reach out to homeless youth, and I said to him ” No, I don’t want to leave my farm and my wholesome environment, then that would be an example of denying myself for His sake. If I have a tendency to gossip or am bitter and unforgiving towards someone that would be an aspect of my flesh that God wants me to deal with by putting it to death on the cross.

Yes, He is referring to that we are dead and we count ourselves dead to our sinful old nature, our flesh, and to this world. But we are alive to God in Christ. We have a new self that is glorious, blessed, beloved, cherished, valuable, precious, and beautiful in Christ. It is so important that we know what “self” we are to die to and what it means to take up our cross.

 

By The Satisfied Wife:

April,
I think you are right on in what you shared about this. And something else hit me as I read this comment. In my experience, because I was mistreated for so long, and suffered in that sense for getting involved with the wrong kinds of men, and not having a strong father figure in my life, I became completely self-reliant and independent, with a heart hardened to the harsh realities of life. And in being mistreated and developing that independent spirit, looking back I see actually how selfish I became. That sounds wrong, but hear me out if you can 🙂

Because I was mistreated and grew up mistreated, and did not develop a healthy self-worth, and developed that desire in my heart to be loved and wanted and all those idols that are attached to that desire—-it actually made me self-centered. All I cared about was what I wanted, what I needed, what I wasn’t getting from this guy or my father or whoever. My husband pointed this out to me a long time ago, really right after we got married, he saw how selfish I was and how focused I was on having my needs met in the marriage. And because my needs and expectations weren’t getting met the way I wanted them (with the never ending black hole heart), I was disrespectful, complaining, negative, argumentative, controlling, etc.

That’s what happens when we are mistreated in life, as a young woman, we become fearful and controlling because we feel the need to protect ourselves because we have not been treated right. We become independent and self-reliant.

So when God led me to Himself, and revealed Christ in my heart—— that was one of the first things He showed me. He led me to read the book “Not a Fan”, and it was all about dying to self and following Christ. I remember how eye-opening that was for me, because my selfishness was exposed.

And as the years have gone by, He has continued to lead me to the true meaning of dying to self and following Christ, by leading me to your blog, and to the book captivating— and now I see all the pieces put together to this puzzle for me.

He has shown me that in reaction to the way I was mistreated by my own father and men in my life, my heart grew very cold and I became even more selfish. I was living in self-protection mode which entails controlling and fear for my whole life really. All I cared about was myself, honestly. I wanted what I wanted.

I’m not saying it’s ok for anyone to treat someone wrongly. But what I am saying is that, I had an even more challenging time learning how to die to self because of being mistreated and having developed a very independent self-reliant spirit that was highly selfish. I looked at everything my husband did through the lens of my wounded, selfish heart, instead of through Christ and the Cross. I had no idea that my wounded heart was behind all of the control, fear, and disrespect. I didn’t realize that wounded heart was behind a lot of the conflicts in marriage. It was harder for me to “let go” of control and all the fear and self-protection and it was hard to learn to truly trust God and surrender all to Christ. But once He opened my eyes, holding onto those things seemed like garbage compared to surrendering all to Him as Lord and having His peace and rest in my heart!

Now that I know who I am in Christ, and who my husband is in Christ, I have a hard time focusing on the things he does wrong. Letting go of myself and my own personal interests has been the way of finding true Life!

From Peacefulwife:

This process of dying to self can also be described in other ways, too, like:

  • being a living sacrifice for God (Rom. 12:1)
  • putting to death the misdeeds of the body (Rom. 8:13)
  • counting yourself as dead to sin and this world and alive to God through Christ (Rom. 6:11)

Taking up my cross is about laying down any sinful motives and about picking up God’s will. So I would allow God to search my heart for things like selfishness, greed, bitterness, idolatry, resentment, hatred, unforgiveness, malice, gossip, addictions, etc… things that are spiritually toxic to my soul, my relationships, and my walk with Christ – and I would reject those things and allow God’s Spirit to completely fill me with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

It is not only about getting rid of the sin that was in me before. It is also about receiving all of the good that God wants to give to me and the new self He provides for me.

There are some who have been  abused and mistreated who do not believe they are worthy to receive God’s love. Truthfully, none of us are “worthy” to receive God’s love. But God loves us because that is who He is and His love is available to each of us. We CAN receive His love, not because we deserve to, but because He freely gives it!

For those who have a hard time receiving good things from God, I invite you to check out this post by Radiant about Cinderella and the Gospel. I also encourage wives who have been abused and who are confused about dying to self to search and read some of these posts as well:

Boundaries by Dr. Cloud and Townsend may be helpful in this kind of situation where there is significant emotional/verbal abuse.

Nina Roesner has an e-course that may be a huge blessing for wives in emotionally/verbally abusive marriages and very difficult marriages – “Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity”

I believe we must find spiritual healing and wholeness in Christ FIRST before we learn how to “lose our life” for Christ or “put to death the misdeeds of the body,” or “be a living sacrifice” for God or “die to our old sinful self” in a healthy way.

NOTE:
I do want to mention – this is something we each choose to do ourselves. It is not appropriate for me to demand that another believer needs to “die to self” to do what I want him/her to do. I can’t force others to obey God. I can set a godly example. I can ask for what I need and desire. I can share my insights and perspective. But I don’t get to control other people or dictate to them what they should do.

My husband should be living wholeheartedly for Christ and leading and loving as Jesus did, laying down his life for me to portray the love of Christ. But it is not my place to say, “You need to die to yourself and do X, Y, and Z to lead me properly.” It is possible for me to try to manipulate my husband, or other believers, in this way, for my own selfish purposes.

SHARE:

If God has given you lightbulb moments about this concept, please share! If you are struggling with this idea, let’s talk about it together.

Much love to each of you!

April

Approaching My Husband’s Sin Issues – by LMS

I am hoping to share, God-willing, stories from a number of wives who have been truly “in the trenches” in the past year or two. Many of them have very different dynamics in their marriages from the one I had with Greg where I was dominating and he was passive. Some of these husbands are a lot more vocal than Greg was – and demonstrated more direct opposition to their wives as they tried to allow God to change them.  Last week I shared a post by The Satisfied Wife about how really only God knows exactly what each of us needs to do in any specific situation. Today I am sharing a guest post by LMS who also wrote, “My Husband Wanted a Divorce.”

May God lead each of us on our own path of discovering and discerning what He desires us to learn and do in our particular situations that will bring honor and glory to Him. Each of us will have some similarities in our stories, but some unique differences. We ultimately each need to hear God’s voice and follow Him. Some things are very clear in Scripture about how we are to treat others, including our husbands. Other things require close fellowship with God for us to know what we should do. Please pray for the wives who are sharing – and their husbands – for God’s power, love, wisdom, and discernment as the wives seek to honor Christ and as they share with us. Don’t take the weight of their struggles on yourself, but rather, lay them before God. Let’s entrust these precious couples – and all who are here and who are hurting – to His care.

BACKGROUND:

My husband became increasingly angry and shut down until he asked for a divorce in January of 2015.  At that time, I searched for some kind of answer and truth on what to do in my life. I found Jesus (and became a Christian) and began a journey in learning respect, love, hope and faith. On my way to healing, I also had to learn forgiveness of others as well as myself, with God’s grace and respect for myself as well. My husband was not very responsive to my changes and, in fact rebelled greatly against them. With a non-believing spouse, it has been a very hard road to stay on with God, but it is the only true path to overcoming sin. We are still together, in spite of many friends and family telling me I should divorce him. There is healing, baby-step growth.

I HAD TO DEAL WITH MY OWN ISSUES FIRST:

I had to learn submission (to Christ first, then to my husband), respect, tearing out idols, etc… before I could possibly even THINK about standing up to my husband’s sins. It’s like “Taking the Log Out of Your Eye 101” – like a college course or something. Then, after I had made much progress (by the power of Christ), I started to feel like I was falling out of peace as time would go on. I would get paralyzed with fear of speaking the truth to my husband in love with respect and honor. I would try sometimes, and I would stress about doing it right, saying the right words, etc, and when it went badly, not as planned, or I lost my temper a bit, (not as badly as in the past) but I could recognize that I didn’t handle something as Jesus would’ve, I would feel panicky that I hurt rather than helped my marriage.

  • I was afraid to make a move in case it was the wrong one. I was still trying to be perfect.

But, I kept saying to myself that God can make beauty from the ashes… and He would. One of my sisters here on the blog helped me relax a bit in the process, as long as my motive was right. Until the pressure from my husband got so mean, sarcastic and contemptuous, and I couldn’t take it anymore – I stayed stuck in misery.

I don’t know if I would’ve moved to the next step without my husband’s attitude getting worse.

I strongly feel God was trying to take me to a new level. One that taught me right thinking about (or “respect for”) self, courage, bravery, confidence in Christ, and being able to face my fears. I grew slowly more okay with my fear of “if my husband left me.” I actually was looking forward to it at some point…  it would have been a relief, not happy to admit, but true. I told him if he wanted to go, he had my blessing. He never went.

DEALING WITH HIS ISSUES:

I learned that standing up to my husband and his sin/horrible, hurtful attitude was actually a LOVING thing to do. The line that hit me from Leslie Vernick’s book, “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong,” was “ignoring someone’s sin is essentially writing them a one way ticket to hell.” It is NOT loving to refrain from speaking the truth because we are being ruled by fear (of our spouses leaving, getting angry, being more unloving, getting revenge etc.)

But facing that fear was like a 2nd level college course “Speaking Truth in Love 201.” This helped me swing back to center and away from doormat mode. So, now, I knew how to be silent and not complain or bicker or be critical or argue, but I also knew how to stand up for myself and not believe every word my husband said and let him walk all over me. I was more balanced.

I know I very much had my husband as my god and an idol. Every word he said, I would believe. I never thought he would lie to me or manipulate me. So, even though I saw him do that to others, I was naive to think he wouldn’t do that to me. He very much feels he is smarter, wiser, and more aware of things than I am. He judges and criticizes me and others. He feels he is above others.

This makes me disgusted now, but before, I would adopt his ways as my own, but with no real good reason, just because I believed everything he said and did was good and right… just because he was my husband. I let him “own” me and my happiness. Fear kept me in a prison. I think learning how to fight evil fear and knowing the difference between fearing the Lord and what that really means (being in awe of Him) and healthy fear for safety and godly warnings would be helpful (don’t stick a metal screwdriver into a live plug). Not zooming ahead with fear of the future or the lies we tell ourselves because we don’t know what is going on in our spouses minds or suspecting bad motives… it all instills loads of fear.

Fear, fear, fear….a huge roadblock to joy and godly surrender.

Today, my husband is very confused now because he cannot predict how I will react to things that before I would get upset about, or he knows I SHOULD be upset about.

  • I am more direct when I speak and less unsure of myself.
  • I call him out when he is lying and he is uncomfortable. I’m not disrespectful, but I am no longer his starry-eyed groupie who praises every word or thought of his.

He doesn’t understand my calm during the storm, or peaceful joy in spite of our marriage being in shambles. It actually entertains me to watch him try to figure it out now. I have tried to talk about God to him, but it’s lost on him right now. God will tell me when – if I need to. But for now, it’s “winning him without a word.

I also think there is something to the fact that men tend not to respect a woman who allows them to treat her disrespectfully. Much like men don’t respect another man who shakes hands like a wet noodle, or won’t stick up for himself…they are seen as weak, spineless, and unworthy. We women sometimes see our actions (not speaking up when we are being mistreated) as submitting, loving, cooperative, but men don’t. We need a little spark and feistiness for them to know that we have our limits too. I think they feel less-than if they are married to a weak-willed woman with no backbone. But it’s a fine line to walk so we don’t slip into disrespect.

RELATED:

Please always seek God’s wisdom and His prompting for what He desires you to do in your exact situation in each moment. His Spirit can give you the wisdom and direction you need that is so much greater than any human wisdom. 🙂

Biblical Submission Is Not Passivity

When Would I Not Submit to My Husband?

25 Ways to Respect Myself – or “to Thing and Act Rightly about Myself”

To Speak or Not to Speak

InHisGrip Talks about Not Shutting Down Emotionally

The Pendulum Effect – avoiding being controlling/dominating/disrespectful and avoiding the other extreme of being passive, unplugged, defeated, and a doormat

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

How to Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit

A Wife Responds Beautifully to Her Husband’s Bad Mood 

God Showed Me How to Approach My “Command Man” Husband

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Nina Roesner has a class for wives in very difficult marriages that helps women experience healing in Christ and then have the wisdom and spiritual strength they need to know how the Lord desires them to handle the issues in the marriage – Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity.

Other People Don’t Always Know What You Should Do in Your Marriage – by The Satisfied Wife

 

This post is by The Satisfied Wife (AKA WorthyofLove). She is in a very difficult marriage with a husband who tends to be rather harsh at times – and yet, what God is doing in her heart is SO beautiful! I appreciate her willingness to share with us:

ON SEEKING GOD ALONE TO KNOW HIS WILL FOR OUR LIVES

In each of our lives, the only thing we can rely and trust in is the Lord, and His Word. There really are no other guarantees in this life. He is our greatest need, and our only source of life. When you are in a toxic marriage – it really is a great opportunity to seek the Lord with all your heart. I have found in my own life, being around toxic relationships and people is what drove me to Him in the first place. God can use anything to accomplish His greater purposes! Way before finding April’s site, I was driven into the arms of the Lord and His Word. It was the only place I found true rest and hope.

In my experience, seeking the Lord alone for the truth in your marriage is what will matter most in moving forward not only with the Lord, but in your marriage.

THE DANGER OF SEEKING HUMAN WISDOM ALONE
I honestly never sought anyone’s opinion about my marriage or life in the first place. I sought the Lord wholeheartedly, though. And through seeking the Lord above all – that is how I was led to His Body (April’s site). And once led to the Body, the Lord has been able to teach me so much truth and He has truly opened my eyes in so many ways since finding April’s blog.

However – at one point – I, too, found myself relying on what I was learning through the blog, along with what the Lord was teaching me, to direct my steps completely in terms of my own personal life and marriage. Because at that point, I was desperate for answers, and willing to try anything to “fix” my marriage.

When we are desperate for answers—we are at the greatest risk of being deceived about what our next step should be. Especially if we are not truly crucified to the flesh—and we have a predetermined will of our own. We will look for the answers that match our own will—and believe it is confirmation of God’s leading. We must first be truly crucified to our own will and ways—and seek only to know God’s will and ways.

That is the power of God working here. Many women might come there to find answers about their marriage and how to get their husband to love them a certain way, etc… but what they find is Christ Crucified as the Power of God! AMEN!

JESUS IS THE ANSWER
We can read and learn all we want about marriage, respect, submission, how to handle difficult people, how to walk in the Spirit, how to do this, that and the other thing. But knowledge of all that is NOT what will get you through the actual reality of your daily life living within a toxic marriage.

Your Spirit union with the Living, Risen Lord Jesus is what will get you through the toxic marriage. HE is what is needed. Not a list of rules. Not human wisdom.

If I adhered to all the “research” and “wisdom” of this world—I would be divorced already. I would have given up the first time I felt I was slighted or mistreated without a cause. That is the answer that the world gives to women who are in a toxic relationship. And perhaps that MIGHT be the answer that the Lord ultimately leads you to in certain situations (that are biblically supported).

The point right now is that when we are in a toxic marriage, and we are cowering under the oppression and fear of what will happen all the time – the most important thing is not what April says, what anyone human, or book (Christian or otherwise) says – it is what the Lord says. It is what He is leading you to see and do, that matters most. And He is not afar off – if we are in Christ and belong to Him, He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Christ Jesus has forever secured our entrance into the Presence of God by His precious Blood shed on the Cross! That is a FACT. Your feelings are NOT fact.

If any precious woman finds herself in a toxic marriage after evaluating in a godly way what is really going on – the best thing she can do is truly set aside some time, and seek the Lord. Pour out her heart to Him. Depend on Him alone for guidance, wisdom, and truth. (Maybe refer to Andrew Murrays “Waiting on God” and “Absolute Surrender”).

LOOK AT THE FACTS

Having already been through this more than once, the greatest thing when seeking God alone for truth has been to look at the FACTS.

  • The facts from the Word of God that tell us who we are, who God is, What God can do, etc.
  • The facts about how I am being treated (look to actions of spouse not words)
  • The facts about how I am acting/reacting to this treatment

A fact is a fact. It is what happened. It is what has been proclaimed. The biggest blinders in this process are your own feelings, because we all know that sometimes our feelings are actually NOT facts.

So I’ll say this – in my case, when my feelings matched the facts – I took them as real. If I felt as though I was being manipulated/controlled inadvertently, and I looked at what my husband did, compared to what he said – I found it was true how I felt.

HOW TO SEEK GOD

Seeking God, to me, has meant that I stop looking to anyone, anything, any system, and other source – except God alone to guide me, save me, provide for me, etc…

It means that I pray – I spend time reading His word and other trusted sources of spiritual food. I wait for Him and I depend on Him. Utterly. Wholeheartedly.

  • To speak to my heart.
  • To open my eyes.
  • To fill me with His Spirit
  • To save me from my own self
  • To save me from the fiery darts that are coming at me from the devil.

Be aware – any one who sets their WHOLE heart on God is a target of Satan. Don’t be shocked to find that yes, your very husband can be a tool in the devil’s hands to paralyze you spiritually – to trip you up and stop you at ALL COSTS from seeking God! Because when we seek God alone – we let go of all the things of earth -and when we are in our spiritual position with Christ by faith – we walk in His power and we are a HUGE threat to the Satan and his kingdom.

The Spirit of God is the Spirit of TRUTH. He cannot lie. He will not lead us into lies if we set our heart on Him alone. He will open our eyes, and grant us a revelation of Christ Jesus in our hearts – and when we see Christ alone -we will know Him and the Bible says that Christ is wisdom to us—CHRIST is wisdom! In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom. So then, more than anything else, we need knowledge of Christ in our situations!

 

Should You Strive to Please or Keep Your Husband at ANY Cost?

This post is specifically for wives who are disrespecting themselves or disrespecting God in order to put their husband on the throne of their hearts

** (please note the disclaimer about severe issues at the bottom of the post)

IDOLIZING A PERSON

Our culture thrives on encouraging us to idolize our spouses and be enmeshed/codependent with them. Whether

  • I expect my husband to meet all of my deepest spiritual and emotional needs (rather than Christ) or
  • he expects me to meet all of his
  • or both…

We will destroy our relationship if we continue on like that. If the goal is to ultimately to please a person at any cost – myself or my spouse – I am building my marriage on sinking sand instead of the Solid Rock of Christ.

An idol is something or someone I trust to bring me ultimate fulfillment, contentment, peace, joy, and happiness – that is not Jesus. It is something or someone that I place above God in my heart and give all power to in my life. I rest my faith in that particular thing. Some of us are willing to do ANYTHING to save our marriage, for example – even if it meant sinning, condoning sin, or allowing great harm to come to ourselves or our children.

I must seek to please God alone “no matter what the cost,” not to please another person to that degree.

Verses about idolatry:

  • Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. Jonah 2:8
  • Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
  • Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. Galatians 4:8

Idols can’t save us. When we trust idols, we are ultimately trusting in ourselves – what our hands (or minds) have made (Isaiah 2:8, Psalm 135:15-18). Idolatry is slavery. We become hostages of our idols – the things in which we place our greatest faith and hope. When we trust idols, God often uses the things we trust to teach us that nothing is trustworthy except for Himself. We often bring upon ourselves the things we fear the most when we trust other things or people rather than God.  Idolatry and fear go hand in hand because we are trusting in somethings that cannot save us. We are trusting in broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

WHAT GOD REQUIRES:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37

If we love someone or something else with all our hearts and we set our hearts on that thing or that person, we will destroy ourselves. But when we set our hearts fully on God, we are blessed spiritually and overflowing with His Spirit – and then when we are right with God, He can empower us to have right relationships with others – as far as it depends on us. We may even see Him bring about miracles as we trust Him with our difficult relationships and our trials.

FROM THE TRENCHES:

I’m recruiting some help from the trenches from two wives in whom God is doing such amazing things…

Wife 1 whose unbelieving husband left her in the last year or so:

I think a HUGE red flag is fear. If you fear your husband, his reactions, losing the relationship – anything – You need to pray about it. Ask God why you fear, because perfect love casts out fear, and if you have fear for your husband or marriage, that is not love. You are not loving God more than your husband if you let fear of your husband trump your fear and reverence for God.

Wife 2 whose unbelieving husband is rather controlling and difficult at times:

Fear was a huge factor in most of my marriage. Fear of his reactions when I tried to share my feelings. I kept tweaking and tweaking my delivery of that, thinking it must be me, I must be doing something wrong. And, yes, it is true that many times I would come at him in anger after he had hurt me (these weren’t petty things, either – they were things that would make any wife or husband angry because they threatened our marriage).

But, even as I learned more about respect and how to approach these things in a better way, I started realizing that I would never reach the perfection status that would allow my husband to finally listen to what I was saying. My husband was never physically abusive, but I still had a lot of fear because he would shut me out and ignore me for days if I upset him and there were subtle things he did and phrases he used that made me feel really bad for sharing my feelings about something hurtful that he had done to me.

I was full of fear of losing the marriage, fear of losing my family. God had to take me to a place that I had to surrender it all to Him and He delivered me from all of that fear!

Now I can walk in truth and am free in Christ in my marriage! I no longer fear what my husband thinks of my relationship with Christ, I no longer fear his reactions if I speak truth that needs to be said to him (not trying to save him or preach to him, but just truth about things in our relationship or with our kids, etc.). And, my anthem during that whole process became the song, “No Longer Slaves to Fear.” That became like a prophetic song in my life that God made real for me.

God wants His daughters (and sons) to live free in Christ. That’s a huge red flag there, I think – If you do not feel like you have the freedom to be yourself and are always trying to “soften” your Christian walk so that it isn’t offensive, something is probably off (from April – this requires great wisdom and godly discernment to be able to see clearly). I think we are to live boldly for Christ and I also believe that is why those verses are there in 1 Corinthians 7 about an unbelieving spouse leaving…. the Christian’s life will be so different that it will repel some unbelieving spouses and may cause a permanent separation in the marriage. That’s not a popular topic in Christian marital teaching, but it is absolutely biblical.

It is a painful process and doesn’t happen overnight, this being able to get to a place where you are willing to lose it all and you choose to follow Christ wherever He leads and start living from an authentic place instead of sweeping sin and issues under the rug or letting someone keep trying to convince you there’s nothing wrong (when you KNOW there is something wrong). God is the one who has to do it, really, but we have to cooperate and go through the painful places so that He can lead us on to this beautiful freedom!

My husband threatened divorce (not always that directly, but it was very much implied) many times over the last few years as I started getting stronger in Christ and was standing in truth about the things that were happening in our marriage. Of course, this brought a lot of fear in my life – but eventually, I just started to let him know that he was free to go. This took him back every time I told him that. He was so used to me adjusting my behavior to keep that from happening. But, I think what I said and did was rooted in God’s Word and from His Spirit.

As Christian wives of unbelieving husbands, we need to realize that these verses are in God’s Word for a reason. He may be saving some years of heartache and struggle. And, really, those verses are just as much of a command as any other directive/command in the Scriptures. If an unbeliever wants to go, let him go. I know it’s not a popular view in the Christian culture of “marriages are worth saving at all costs”… (April, I know you do not teach this and I so appreciate that). God is infinitely above marriages and our marriage or husband should never take His place.

If you are operating in fear, things will only get more and more destructive. But, when God sets you free from that fear and you are willing to follow Him at ALL costs, then yes, you can move and operate from the power of the Holy Spirit.

It doesn’t mean that things are all going to be rosy and pretty and pain-free, but you WILL have an underlying peace and assurance from the Lord that He will never let you go, *He* will never be unfaithful or leave you, and you can begin to see the reality of the spiritual warfare you are in, as well. May God continue to bring this freedom to many, many more brothers and sisters!

My husband actually said to me as I was getting stronger in Christ and he could sense something was changing, ”I want you to worship me.” Yikes!!!!

God got my attention big-time with that statement. I calmly but strongly said something to the effect that I would never be able to do that for him. I brought that up in counseling and my husband said he was joking, but still. Red flag.

As far as idolizing our husbands so much that we think we couldn’t go on in life, I know another big thing for me regarding this was that I was a very insecure person. My security was resting on my husband’s love for me and that is a very, very shaky and doomed-to-failure kind of foundation. I think equal with dealing with fear is that every Christian has to find their security and worth in Christ alone.

  • God will absolutely do this in His children’s lives, one way or another, I think.

It might come through marital problems or probably whatever it is that you are finding your security in. If we have not come to a place, like Paul, where we can say “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” then this is something that has to be worked out. We have to be absolutely unshakeable and convinced that God is never leaving us and loves us with a love that cannot even be measured! We also need to be convinced of our righteous standing in Christ before God and in the finished work of Christ. Then our foundation is sure and strong.

RELATED

Fully Trusting God with My Husband – Laying Down All of My Fears 

My Security and Identity Must Be in Christ Alone!

Finding Victory over Feelings of Insecurity

Roots of Insecurity Low Self Esteem, Sinful Jealousy, and Desire to Control

Is Divorce the Worst Thing That Can Happen? VIDEO

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Bitterness

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced

Taking Our Thoughts Captive

People Pleasing

Tearing Out the Idols in Our Hearts

When Would I Not Submit to My Husband

**Note – if you are dealing with severe issues in your marriage (unrepentant adultery, active drug/alcohol addictions, major porn addictions, severe uncontrolled mental health issues where someone is not in his/her right mind, or other very toxic or abusive situations,) please seek trusted, godly, appropriate counsel in person. If you are not safe, please try to get yourself and your children somewhere safe if possible. Please reach out to your pastor, the police, www.thehotline.org, www.focusonthefamily.org has a free Christian counseling service, a trusted doctor – depending on the situation. If you are dealing with emotional toxicity, check out Nina Roesner’s e-course, “Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity.” Please compare anything I or any human says to Scripture. Search for yourself. Seek Christ for yourself. Find the healing and hope that is available in Him!

 

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