“Do you often feel like parched ground, unable to produce anything worthwhile? I do. When I am in need of refreshment, it isn’t easy to think of the needs of others. But I have found that if, instead of praying for my own comfort and satisfaction, I ask the Lord to enable me to give to others, an amazing thing often happens—I find my own needs wonderfully met. Refreshment comes in ways I would never have thought of, both for others, and then, incidentally, for myself.” ~Elisabeth Elliot
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched. Pr. 11:25
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. Is. 58:10
“God has wisely kept us in the dark concerning future events and reserved for himself the knowledge of them, that he may train us up in a dependence upon himself and a continued readiness for every event.” ~Matthew Henry
“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” ~Proverbs 27:1
“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.’” ~Acts 1:7
Last week we talked about helping husbands and happy marriages. But what if a husband doesn’t help, even when you ask? What if you try to make your husband happy but your marriage is miserable?
A difficult marriage is a severe trial for many women, with pain that is ever present and deeply personal. We know that a single blog post cannot reach into the heart of a hurting marriage and untangle all of the unresolved conflicts or hurtful comments.
But there is hope and help for your marriage; and it is closer than you might think. As it says in Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Remember that God sees and that he cares. As we wrote in our hopeful Valentine’s posts, God is with you and he is for you. He is near. You can have hope in God, even when your husband has utterly failed you. God is using this trial to draw you close to himself and to lead you to put your hope in him, where it can never be disappointed again. You will be able to say, with Charles Spurgeon: “I thank my God for every storm that has wrecked me on the Rock, Jesus Christ.”
Seek help from your local church. The church is the best hospital for a suffering marriage. It is where God has told us to go when we need spiritual and relational care. If you are in a gospel-preaching church, avail yourself of the biblical counsel of your pastor or godly saints, for yourself and also for your husband if he is willing. Be prepared: the church’s help may be slower than you want or the process messier than you expect. But if the counsel comes from Scripture, you can have hope that the Great Counselor is present and at work.
Read good books on suffering.In the intensity of marriage trials, you need consistent nourishment for your soul. Books by sufferers for sufferers are a vital means of perspective, encouragement, faith, and strength. Three of our favorites on suffering that we’ve read and re-read and handed out by the arm full are Beside Still Waters by Charles Spurgeon, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller (begin reading in section three), and A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper. Read little bits at a time. Read whenever you can.
May God grant you sustaining grace and may you experience joy, even in the midst of pain, as you look to the Savior who daily bears you up (Ps. 68:19).
“Let us mark well this lesson. If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other men. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory at the end—all this our Savior has promised to give. But he has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that. By affliction he teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction he shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from this world, makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall say, ‘it is good for me that I was afflicted.’ We shall thank God for every storm.”
If Valentine’s Day magnifies our misplaced hopes, we must put our hope in God (1 Pet. 3:5). We do this by focusing on all that God promises to be for us in Jesus Christ. Our difficulties will be “unbearable” writes Martin Luther, “if you are uncertain that God is for you and with you.”
God is for you.
You may not feel like your husband is for you. It may even feel like he is against you. If your husband is against you, it may feel like God is too.
Or maybe you don’t have a husband, a man who is devoted to you, who is for you and no one else.
But God is for you.
It is not just that he is not against you. It’s not just that he means you no harm. He is not merely indifferent or neutral toward you. He is for you.
It is not just that he is for you in other ways, but not this one. No, he is working for your good in this Valentine’s Day.
Once he was against you. The full fury of his wrath was set against your sin. But he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the justifiable “against-ness” of God. Through the cross we have not only received forgiveness but all the “for-ness” of God in Christ Jesus.
Our hope in pain:
You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, thatGod is for me.
No uncertainty here. This I know. God is for me.
God is with you.
That’s all you want, someone to be with you. But you feel alone.
Maybe you lost your husband through death. Maybe he left you. Maybe you still share the same home, but there is a chasm of hurt and conflict between you. Maybe you never had a husband.
There is no greater salve for the wound of loneliness than this: God is with you.
“[F]or he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5-6)
He is not watching your pain from a distance, just out of sight. He is “near” (Ps. 34;18). He is near to comfort, near to encourage, near to strengthen, near to bless.
John Piper writes: “When you think he is farthest from you, or has even turned against you, the truth is that as you cling to him, he is laying foundation stones of greater happiness in your life.”
What may seem like a difficult holiday is really another “foundation stone of greater happiness,” lovingly laid by the Savior.
God is with us. He is for us. He is our hope this Valentine’s Day.
“Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.” Mark 4:24
“This is a principle which we find continually brought forward in Scripture. All that believers have is undoubtedly of grace. Their repentance, faith and holiness, are all the gift of God. But the degree to which a believer attains in grace is ever set before us as closely connected with his own diligence in the use of means, and his own faithfulness in living fully up to the light and knowledge which he possesses. Indolence and laziness are always discouraged in God’s Word. Labour and pains in hearing, reading, and prayer are always represented as bringing their own reward…. Attention to this great principle is the main secret of spiritual prosperity. The man who makes rapid progress in spiritual attainments—who grows visibly in grace, and knowledge, and strength, and usefulness—will always be found to be a diligent man. He leaves no stone unturned to promote his soul’s well-doing. He is diligent over his Bible, diligent in his private devotions, diligent as a hearer of sermons, diligent in his attendance at the Lord’s table. And he reaps according as he sows. Just as the muscles of the body are strengthened by regular exercise, so are the graces of the soul increased by the diligence in using them. Do we wish to grow in grace? Do we desire to have stronger faith, brighter hope, and clearer knowledge? Beyond doubt we do, if we are true Christians. Then let us live fully up to our light and improve every opportunity. Let us never forget our Lord’s words in this passage, ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’ The more we do for our souls, the more shall we find God does for them.” ~J. C. Ryle