Written by Gina Lee, Contributing Writer
In the past few months, there has been a handful of ‘christian’ marriages come undone around us. We’re not super connected with any of these people, just have some sort of contact with one of the spouses through our daily life. We’ve been praying for them, and in light of the devastation in their marriages, my husband asked me the other day “How is it we’ve managed to stay together?”. As in, we’re not perfect, by any means, so how come we’re not struggling with one of us wanting out? My response was “It’s God, and we’ve chosen to live for Him.” That may seem cliche or too simple, but I truly know that’s the reason. It’s one thing to claim you believe in God, it’s an entirely different thing (and much harder) to actually live as Jesus’ disciple every day.
Jesus isn’t so much concerned about our own comfort as He is concerned with the state of our soul. This means that if we choose to truly live our life for Jesus, life will not be easy, and will most likely not look at all like we thought it might. In order to be a disciple of Christ, we must die to ourselves daily, moment by moment even. In Luke 9:23-24 Jesus tells us, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Also in Matthew 16:23-25 and Mark 8:33-35) This statement is not about my happiness, but about Jesus’ holiness. It’s about seeing the bigger picture through God’s eyes, and realizing that my plans and ideas about life are but a passing breeze when compared with His.
To live this way means we sacrifice our own will in all aspects of life. This is not easy, and we’ll never be perfect at it. But God does promise if we seek Him with all our heart, and acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will direct our paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6) And God has even provided the perfect training ground for this concept with the covenant of marriage. Successful marriage hinges on us dying to ourselves and seeking to put God and our spouse before our own selfish desires. It’s like boot camp for the soul; it’s hard, it’s dirty, and it’s painful – but if you allow God to be your coach, you will get stronger and learn to rely more on Him in all areas of your life.
It’s not that you won’t have opportunity, or even reason, to be angry. I was impressed recently with this true story about a missionary in Africa. Her name is Sarah, and her team went to a village to share Jesus. While there, the village turned on them and tried to kill them. Sarah and her team escaped, but she was very angry with at the villagers for the way they treated the team. When she spent time in prayer, she believed the Lord told her that she was right – the people had not treated them well, and she could stay angry. OR she could choose to have His heart of love for them. She told Him she wanted His heart, and from that moment, all the anger disappeared and she was filled with His love for them. Amazing things happen to the team and the village when God’s love was allowed to shine through Sarah. (the story can be heard at The Brinkman Adventures episodes 4 and 5)
Sometimes we have every right to be angry and want our own way. Much like Jesus. If anyone ever had a right to be angry and selfish is was Him! But He never was. Jesus always turned to the Father, and God gave Him direction and strength to fulfill the Father’s master plan. It’s the same with us. God wants to give us hope. God has a purpose and a plan for our life (Jeremiah 29:11), and if we surrender ourselves to Him and His ways, He will be strong in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). He can resurrect any broken marriage into one teeming with His new life.
A quote from a lady who has been through much pain in her marriage, and seen the miraculous hand of God move in it… “Early in marriage I had thought that the greatest blessing would be for my man to change. But in actuality, the greatest blessing came when I found myself in that inner room of intimacy with God. When I processed the pain with the Lover of my soul, I experienced a joy that this world couldn’t steal. Through the valley of brokenness I learned that true blessing rises as I bind to my God regardless of circumstance.” (Lara Williams, To Walk or Stay)
The Bible tells of the miraculous things Jesus did – healing blind men, making the sick well, and raising a man from the dead. The Jesus we worship today is the same Jesus who did these amazing things, and God is still a God of miracles. Are you willing to let Him do one in your life?
Has God worked a miracle in your marriage? Any tips/tricks for living in self-sacrifice to God and your spouse daily? And when you find yourself speaking or acting in anger, how long does it take you to ask for forgiveness?