Perseverance in Marriage
Knowing the right thing to do is fairly easy. Doing the right thing is much harder. Not long ago God convicted a good friend of ours, Ellen, about her hateful behavior toward her husband. In spite of his claim to Christianity, he was unloving, impatient, and sometimes even cruel to her and to their children. She had begun screaming right back at him and using her own forms of mental and emotional attack to get him back.
Her husband had met an attractive woman through work and an old boyfriend had entered Ellen’s life. Disaster loomed over this Christian family, struggling to raise children to love Jesus.
Focus on Your Own Behavior
Desperate to save her marriage, Ellen asked an older, wiser woman in the church to teach her how to love her husband in a way that would honor God. In their very first meeting, the two women agreed their discussions would focus on the wife’s behavior, not her husband’s sins. In each session Ellen renewed her commitment to respond to her husband in a godly manner. The older woman warned Ellen that obedience would require faith in God’s love and presence and the power to obey would come through God’s enabling grace.
Life would probably get harder before it got better.
Ellen soon learned that making a commitment to love her husband was far easier than actually loving her husband, day in and day out. Sometimes loving him meant she had to suffer in silence. At other times, loving him meant praying and then speaking quietly, in courage and strength, when she needed to confront him about his ungodly behavior. Ellen learned that her life indeed did get much tougher for a while, but that by faith she had to stay the course of obedience and trust God to supply grace for each moment.
Ellen committed herself to several crucial elements:
- Soaking in God’s Word and acting on His instructions.
- Learning from an older wiser woman how to revere and respect her husband.
- Staying connected to a circle of friends who encouraged her to godliness.
- Refusing to criticize her husband to others.
- Staying focused on her own behavior.
She embraced her marriage as God’s sandpaper, designed to drive her to His love and strength, designed to round off the sharp corners of her heart so that she reflected the very characteristics she longed to see in her husband. No matter how her husband responded, she would grow in godliness.
This young woman wanted to honor God in her marriage, but betrayal, pettiness, and downright hatred had turned their home into a kind of prison, one in which she, her husband, and her children were all trapped. The only way to break down those walls was faithful obedience on her part. While still not sure how “the story will end,” Ellen has committed herself to God, His people, and His Word, trusting Him to rescue her family from a situation that seems – to everyone else – all but hopeless. God will not fail her.
The Rest of the Story
Though the journey has been hard and long for Ellen and her husband, they now enjoy a home that is more peaceful, respectful, and gentle then it has ever been. In time her husband started meeting with a group of godly men who challenged him to genuinely love his wife as Christ loves the church. Both Ellen and her husband know that they must always stay connected to God’s Word and His people in order to stay accountable for reflecting Christ in their marriage.
In what prison do you live? Is it time to see those bars as God’s invitation to come to Him, to experience forgives and redemption and to learn how to extend His compassion to others? Let me know if we can help you to meet the Savior in a way that will give you hope and strength for your pathway of faith.
Written by: Charles F. Betters