This month my heart has been hurting for some specific people who are struggling in their marriages. Some of them I know personally, others I have been made aware of through our website or friends. When my husband told me about one of our friends who is filing for divorce, the same feelings of betrayal and fear washed over me that I had felt when I found out about Tim’s infidelity.
To those of you who are hurting and in the midst of the betrayal and pain I want to encourage you. God is there with you. Even when all you can do is sob uncontrollably or are numb from the pain, the Lord sees you and He is your comfort. (Isaiah 49:13) Even if you can’t see or feel Him, He is there. (Deuteronomy 31:8) His promises in His Word are faithful and true and are there to comfort you. (Psalm 33:4) If you can’t find words to even form a prayer, if you have God’s Holy Spirit living inside you, He will pray to the Father for you. (Romans 8:26)
God used the demise of our marriage to bring both me, and my husband, to a true faith in Jesus. Prior to that we both thought we would have gone to heaven because we were baptized as babies, went to church most of our lives and were basically “good” people. None of those things would have saved us. Only a true relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ can save us. (Ephesians 2:8-9) He died on the cross for our sins so that we can live with Him forever. Nothing short of the blood of Jesus can save us because God is holy and that is His just requirement. (Hebrews 10:19-22) Jesus rose again from the dead to prove that He is God and that He has power even over death itself. (Romans 6:9, Romans 8:11)
I can honestly say now that I am grateful for what happened in our lives, because it brought me to my knees and I surrendered my life to Jesus. I didn’t realize that my hope and my strength had been in my husband. I had made him the rock and center of my life. But God says we shouldn’t have any other gods before Him. For each of us our “god” is different. For some it is money, for some another person, for some our own pleasure, and for others it could be drugs, alcohol, food or sex. God loves us too much to let us worship any false god; He knows it will only lead to destruction. (Exodus 20:2-4)
My hope and prayer is that others who are hurting in their marriages like we were, will come to a real and dynamic relationship with the only One who can heal a broken heart – Jesus. (Psalm 34:18) He can and is waiting to be your Everything. Whether or not your marriage is restored, Jesus can heal your heart and turn your life around and use this trial for good. (Romans 8:28) He promises. Trust Him, turn to Him, start living for Him. He has everything you need. Our redeemed lives and marriage is a witness to that truth.
This is something I wrote in July 2007. It's written as if God were speaking.
I gave you My gift of grace,
It’s up to you to accept it.
I gave you My Word,
It’s up to you to read it.
I gave you abilities,
It’s up to you to develop them.
I gave you My power,
It’s up to you to use it.
I gave you My promises,
It’s up to you to believe them.
I gave you free will,
It’s up to you to choose wisely.
I gave you a mind,
It’s up to you to fill it with good things.
I gave you a body,
It’s up to you to keep it in shape.
I gave you My commandments,
It’s up to you to obey them.
I gave you joy,
It’s up to you to be happy.
I gave you hope,
It’s up to you to be sure of it.
I gave you all things,
It’s up to you to be thankful.
I gave you tests and trials,
It’s up to you to persevere.
I gave you My wisdom,
It’s up to you to apply it.
I gave you the gospel,
It’s up to you to share it.
I gave you My peace,
It’s up to you to promote it.
I gave you prayer,
It’s up to you to talk to me.
I’ll give you answers,
It’s up to you to ask.
I gave you faith,
It’s up to you to trust Me.
I gave you love,
It’s up to you to love others.
I gave you a heart,
It’s up to you to guard it.
I’ll give you guidance,
It’s up to you to wait for it.
I gave you a purpose,
It’s up to you to realize it.
I gave you mercy,
It’s up to you to pass it on.
I gave you new life,
It’s up to you to live fruitfully.
I gave you My Son,
It’s up to you to believe in Him.
In all these things, I’ll give you help,
It’s up to you to want it.
This entire analogy came to me in the wee morning hours before a weekend women's retreat I attended near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I shared it at the retreat and many were encouraged by it so I want to share it here.
Walking by the Spirit versus the flesh is similar to the difference between a luxury cruise ship and a row boat experience. Both occur in the ocean of life, but the experience is drastically different.
LUXURY CRUISE SHIP (SPIRIT)
1. Your cruise ticket states, “All expenses paid by someone you never met.”
2. There is a lavish buffet of food every day. You are filled and satisfied – never hungry (like feasting on the Word of God.)
3. This cruise ship is driven by an experienced Captain who is intimately familiar with the ocean.
4. You don’t really know the itinerary or ports you’ll be taken to, but it doesn’t matter because you trust it will be an exciting and fulfilling journey.
5. You sleep peacefully, safe, secure, and out of the elements, knowing that the Captain is awake and in charge.
6. You know that your fellow shipmates are on the journey, too. And there is a sense of comaraderie and unity. Everyone understands that in case of an emergency they are to help each other get into the lifeboats: it takes a team effort and the Captain will give the directions.
7. When the waves come you know they will not last forever. You don’t try to do anything to control them because you know you can’t, so you trust the Captain and the sturdiness of the ship and go back to your cabin to get some rest, knowing this too shall pass.
8. When you get seasick you know you can go to the Great Physician onboard for, at the very least, comfort and peace, if not complete healing. You know that he cares for you and will do everything he can to take care of you and make you whole.
A SMALL RUNDOWN ROW BOAT WITH OARS (FLESH)
1. You spent your own money on this piece of junk.
2. There is no food. You are starving and thirsty. You catch a fish here and there (like consulting the Word now and then), which is far from satisfying – never filling or fulfilling.
3. You have no knowledge of the ocean, no sense of direction, no GPS to show you the way.
4. You thought you knew where you were going when the journey started. But now you can’t even see the land, and you have no idea which direction to turn.
5. You can’t sleep at night because there is always the fear of sharks, wind, rain or capsizing in the waves.
6. You feel alone and isolated – no one understands your pain. Cut off from others, your mind starts to spin out of control. You’ve had a few rescue attempts here and there – another boat or a helicopter – but you wave them off, convinced that you need to somehow make it on your own.
7. When the waves come threatening to capsize you, you strain against them with all your might, wearing yourself out to exhaustion. Day and night you paddle but get nowhere. You fight the mighty ocean by yourself – an impossible obstacle that shows no mercy.
8. When you get seasick, you have no one to help so you try to remedy the pain by sipping on sea water, which only makes things worse (like turning to the world for help which leaves you dehydrated and sick – with no lasting relief).
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.
- Romans 8:5-6 The Message
I struggled with fear for years. Fear of my husband, fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of the unknown, etc. So in 2007 I decided to see what the Bible had to say about fear. I researched some of the words in Greek using my Vine's expository dictionary for the verse 2 Timothy 1:7 - "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
I looked up "timidity" which is also translated "fearfulness" (deilia). It is very clear that this spirit is not given to us by God. The word denotes cowardice and timidity and is never used in a good sense. Jesus rebuked the disciples when they were fearful from the storm. “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26) He equated fearfulness with small faith – and even no faith in the Mark account. (Mark 4:40) Webster defines timid as lacking in courage, boldness or determination.
Next I looked up "power" (dunamis) which is a force, specifically miraculous power - usually by implying a miracle itself, ability, abundance, meaning, might, mighty (wonderful) work. When I looked up other Scriptures that talk about power, I learned these things about it:
Finally I looked up “self-control” (sophron) which means of sound mind. (sozo) means to save and (phren) means the mind. So literally it is “to save the mind”. To expand it also means restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions or desires.
So I rewrote the verse using these expanded definitions of the words:
“God did not give me a spirit of fearfulness, cowardice or lack of faith, but of miraculous power, mighty works and abundant ability, love (patience, kindness, selflessness) and a clear mind and ability to say no to my own desires, emotions and impulses.”
Therefore I wrote this call to action for myself:
“Be bold, stretch my faith, believe and trust even when I can’t see the other side. God has given me abilities and can do miraculous things through me if I let Him. He gave me His ability to love others unconditionally and He gave me a stable and healthy mind, able to say no to the flesh. He has thoroughly equipped me for the work He has called me to do. So I need to be bold and not afraid!”
Here are some other verses which have helped me over the years:
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
I was thinking about how we are completely useless to God when we are operating in our own strength. That is why He needs to break us - to get us to the end of our own strength and pride in order for us to learn a completely new way of operating - out of His strength. It is so true that when we are weak, then we are strong in Him. The apostle Paul understood this so well because of what he went through. He was serving God, or so he thought, with all his strength and with all the knowledge he had gained growing up. It wasn't until Jesus confronted and blinded him that he was able to begin to "see" the truth. When he regained his physical sight, he started his new journey of seeing more clearly spiritually as well. As the songwriter of Amazing Grace penned so beautifully, "I once was blind, but now I see." Once God breaks us and opens our eyes to His truth, then we are able to learn to function as He always intended: out of His strength and by His Spirit.
'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty. ~ Zechariah 4:6b NIV
These principals are some of the things we have learned over the last ten years. Even if your spouse is an unbeliever, you can apply most of these ideas yourself and watch what God will do!
Recommended books: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas, The Power of a Praying Wife (Husband) by Stormie Omartian, A Marriage Without Regrets by Kay Arthur
It is our prayer that you will find inspiration on our website. We are just a regular couple who found extraordinary love and power in Jesus Christ. He healed us and our marriage. It is an ongoing process. Please let us know if you would like us to pray for you by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord bless you as you seek to restore your marriage His way!
I was born in 1970 in Omaha, Nebraska. Although I went to church all my life, I didn't make Jesus Lord of my life until I was 29 years old. My real relationship with Him began when my marriage fell apart.