We get married and promise to love and honor and cherish. A man promises to provide and take care of his wife. To love her as Christ loves the church.
For many of us, that is not our reality.
Now to be sure, we fail as well as wives. We have our sinful tendencies and it is hard to humble oneself to apologize to a spouse who may use that against you in the future. At least that’s the way it is for me. But I apologize anyway.
Some have said I have a reason to divorce because of the broken marriage covenant. My spouse has abandoned the marriage bed (years ago) and treats me with derision and contempt and is financially and emotionally abusive (after 21 years of marriage he knows exactly where to strike).
And just when I think I’m doing well, satan will use my spouse to try to derail me from the ministry that God has called me to in the midst of my difficult circumstances.
See, my husband has broken the marriage covenant but that doesn’t necessitate divorce. I joked with one dear friend of mine that I was sold a false bill of goods on my wedding day and why isn’t there a lemon law for husbands? He led me to believe he would love, provide and care for me. But he has refused to do so.
Broken promises often negate a contract. But marriage is a covenant. And God shows in His word that many times when He has covenanted with his people – they have broken their end of the agreement. God has stayed faithful. Sometimes there have been consequences – but He has never abandoned the people He has called to Himself.
By extraction, as His child, He will never abandon me. That’s one of His promises. He will provide for me. And He has. He will be good even when I cannot see it or I feel pain. He never promises wealth or a life free of suffering. He promises to be with us always.
My spouse may not keep his promises but I am, with Christ’s help, trying to keep mine. I will treat him respect even when he as failed to earn that. He is an image bearer of God and for that alone He deserves to be treated with respect. And I want to model that for my kids. “Love your enemies” is hard when that “enemy” lives in your home.
I do all of this to honor Christ and HE has sustained me! He has provided. He has been faithful to His promises to me. He loves and cherishes me in ways my husband is unable or unwilling to do. I can entrust Him with the future of my marriage. He has blessed me with church leadership and dear safe friends to encourage me on the path as well. I often need Jesus with skin on – and just at that moment He has been there providing that.
Can you trust God to keep His promises to you? Will your life give testimony to that as you lean on Him in your struggles? I hope so!
About two years ago or so, I visited a local non-profit agency in my town that helps people who are abused or disadvantaged. I presented my marriage situation to the young lady who simply said: “There’s nothing we can do to help you with financial abuse unless you divorce.”
Nothing to be done. Unless I divorce.
She explained that then they can garnish wages and he owes me money for suspending my career to raise our three children. I divorce and he has to support me via court order and my life will be better.
How many more lies do I need to hear?
My husband is self-employed. He can hide money in trusts. He can bankrupt himself. They could never garnish his wages. He’s wily and controlling. We didn’t own a home and had no assets or savings.
There will never be a “happily ever after” as long as he is in the picture (barring a miracle from God) – and divorce does not remove him from my life or that of my children.
And he is still their father. For better or for worse.
Most of the attention regarding abuse is on the physical. I have people tell me that verbal abuse is even worse. You heal from bruises but words stick deep inside your heart and continue to do damage. I’m not denying the truth of any of that. Emotional abuse is twisted and can make you feel unwanted and crazy (yeah, like none of the rest does?). In the end it’s all emotional abuse and control. But financial or economic abuse is a very twisted animal in its own right and not many talk about that.
So often people will say, “just leave.” As if that’s the easiest thing in the world.
I want to honor God. I want to honor my vows even if my spouse is unworthy of that kind of commitment. Is that a bad thing?
No. It’s not.
Is it an easy thing?
No. It’s not.
But let me tell you what I have learned even through the ups and downs of our financial picture and my husband’s irresponsible financial choices – which of course he blames me for (since I insist on having gas for the car and food and clothing for the kids).
God has been faithful. HE is my provider. I’ll be honest. I get panic attacks when I look at my bank balance. I am afraid whenever I have to ask for money from my spouse because it is never given to me cheerfully or in love – but always with blame and accusation.
I don’t know what your situation is.
Just know – you are not alone and God sees it all. There have been days I called a trusted friend and said “Remind me again that God is faithful.” And she does that because I need to hear it and be reminded once again that the God of the Bible is THE one in whom I can place my trust. HE is my hope and my salvation and He will sustain and lead me in the path I should take.
Once I emailed someone in pain and asked for the reminder of God’s faithfulness and was told I lacked faith. I have faith but sometimes I doubt. It is human to do so. We don’t need to beat ourselves up when we need the assurance of the truth of Scripture.
Someday I may have to force a separation, but I want to do that from a position of strength, not weakness. God has yet to open the door for that financial independence from my husband. But I’m more at peace now in the waiting. More hopeful and trusting in HIM, because of what I have had to endure that has forced me to lean on him and not my spouse.
So let me remind you. God is faithful. He sees your pain and struggle. You can trust in Him.
As life deals us those brutal blows and we struggle with the reality of here and now, it’s tempting to long for what we used to have, whether it be health, a happy home, that lost loved one. But sometimes our “plan A” is just not ever going to be reality. That’s a hard pill to swallow.
Many years ago I attended a conference on mental health and heard Kathleen Crowley tell her story. As a result of a medical mishap, she was forced to live with permanent intense pain. Pain medication made her mentally unstable. But medication for depression intensified her pain. She ended up in a mental ward at the hospital and she writes about her experience in a book called The Day Room.
Out of her tragic story (she still experiences intense pain) she developed a concept called procovery. It’s not even a “plan B” for life. Instead of seeking to get back to prior health (physical or mental), she purports that we need to come to a new concept of recovery. That where we are now IS where we are supposed to be and to live successfully within that.
This is difficult. Does that mean we give in and simply state that “this is who I am and it’s not going to change?” How does one do that in the face of health challenges. Is it every totally hopeless that you can recover what you lost? When do we give up and give in?
I’ve been struggling with this as I fight my own health battles. My chiropractor was telling me “This may just be the way you ARE, and you may need to live with that.” When it comes to weight loss, or chronic back issues or depression – is there every really a point where you just give in and accept instead of frustratingly fight?
How does one live in the reality of “this may be all the better it may get” and yet the hope that God in His infinite mercy could possibly change things – if HE chose?
Michael J Fox tries all kinds of treatments to halt the progression of Parkinson’s. I’m not saying that’s bad, but to what point will he accept that this disease will eventually win the battle? Christopher Reeve did all kinds of therapy to help him regain the use of his body, paralyzed due to a fall from horseback. In the end pneumonia claimed his life.
Sometimes I wonder if our modern day treatments and our western mentality that wants what we want and we want it NOW raises the standard too high for our expectations that lives can be saved and improved with the miracle of modern medicine. We rail against God when we don’t get the answer WE want. This wasn’t as big of an issue 100 yrs ago when the reality of death, while hard, was more easily accepted as a natural part of life. Life is terminal.
What do we lose when we put all our energies into our recovery instead of seeking what God wants to teach us in the midst of our pain?
Mentally I’m not a peace with living forever with my various health challenges. I struggle to find contentment in the present while at the same time doing what is good and healthy that could hopefully turn things around. Because of this cognitive dissonance, I often sabotage my efforts in the latter category. I want to lose weight – but then I eat too much. I work out but don’t know to what degree that triggers the inflammation issues of my Hashimoto’s disease and will backfire causing me to gain weight rather than lose it.
On the flip side, I have a broken marriage. I’m still with my husband. But I’ve emotionally given up hope of restoration of the marriage relationship. Have I then given up on the fact that God COULD do that? I beat myself up for my lack of faith and giving in to reality.
Procovery is a good goal – but it’s a hard one. Hard because if we believe in Jesus Christ and that God is sovereign over it all, we don’t know when He may choose to act to change things. IF we want it to be His will, then we have to stop praying for healing, and simply start seeking His face and trusting Him for today and focus more on glorifying Him in THIS moment – rather than focusing on our own future dream.
I sure wish I was better at this. Do you struggle as well? May you find God to be faithful to you in the process.
We have an enemy and too often I forget that he coils like a snake, poised to strike when I least expect it.
And then the bite comes.
Always to my most vulnerable areas.
I need affirmation. The attack will come on my worth and my abilities to do what God has called me to do.
I need love. The attacks come in that being withheld and and venemous words are spewed forth that mean anything but love – only disrespect and disdain instead.
I need security. The attacks come in threats against my ability to stay in a house I love, or buy food we need, or take care of medical expenses that come up.
Why does this hurt so much? Because in my humanness I want these things from a man. I want these things from a husband. I want to know I’m loved and cherished and that somehow I will be provided for and that the things I do matter. Even when I sometimes fail or have a bad day.
This is not my reality.
Sometimes I look for this elsewhere. Friends? But they all have their own needs too. And their responsibility is not as great as that of a person who has made promises before God and others.
How about those I minister with? Again, sometimes the strikes come from there as well. Friendly fire which sometimes comes as an arrow aimed to hurt but masked in pious language.
Chocolate? Oh, wait. That doesn’t quite work either.
So what’s a girl to do?
Seek to reorient myself to the One who made me, died for my sins and is ultimately responsible for my every breath. Ultimately I need to depend on Him. Why is this so hard?
David lamented as he hid in caves hunted by King Saul, separated from his wife and home and responsible for the care, safety and feeding of the men who were with him.
Similar to me shepherding my children while under attack.
But David, even though he was in sorrow and grief and wondering was able to comfort himself with the truth that God stored all his prayers in a bottle. Every tear we cry is precious to our Heavenly Father. And then, in Psalm 56:9b he says: “This I know: God is for me.”
For me. God is FOR me. Not against me like human sometimes are. He is FOR you too.
Love, security and affirmation. The holy, almighty, sovereign, eternal God of the universe – is FOR me. He treasures my tears, how much more my life and basic needs?
Life is not going to get easier. But if I can rest in the truth that a good and great God is FOR me, maybe I can make it through the day clinging to Him and not lamenting how those needs are not met elsewhere. And trust Him for my next breath as well as where I will live and how I will feed my children in the months to come.
He has always been faithful. Always. I have no need to doubt that now.
So I will cry.
I will pray.
I will cling to Him.
How about you? What are your deepest needs? Can you find your fulfillment of them in Jesus? If not, what’s keeping you from that?
Yes, I know , the movie staring Hugh Grant was actually FOUR Weddings and a Funeral. But this isn’t about Hugh Grant, even though he is cute and has a lovely accent and is fun to watch in the movies. My life has not been quite so comedic although I did plan three weddings.
Today I woke up unsettled as I kept feeling like today was supposed to have some meaning to me. Like it was important somehow. I checked my calendar. Nothing written down. No birthday or anniversary or anything even really scheduled. As I sat spending time in God’s Word and praying and journaling and reading some other great authors on faith – it hit me.
Today is the day I had originally scheduled my first wedding. I felt grief and sorrow hit me in the gut. See, I ended up marrying that man a few years later after much heartache. I look back on that young 19-year-old girl and see now that the patterns for abuse that I experience today –were already germinating back then. They were even set in place long before I met this man I would eventually marry. I despise how desperately needy I was for love that I didn’t see it and felt I didn’t deserve any better.
And I despise the fact that the enemy keeps telling me those lies even now.
The engagement took place on Valentine’s Day, and the wedding planned for August. Why wait? Except that the big surprise was that my fiancé, the one who surprisingly proposed to me, ended up calling it off. I was heartbroken. He of course blamed me, saying I was forcing him to marry me. Really? I don’t remember holding a gun to his head to propose. But my undervaluing of my personhood by my biological family only affirmed that yes, I was not worthy to marry this man (or any man for that matter – who would ever want me?). I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough and obviously, according to this man, I was too controlling.
Hindsight makes me want to weep at how wrong my fragile young heart was.
We did get engaged again, and I called off that one on the day of the wedding. We eventually did marry a few years later after much more abuse I was too ashamed to admit to because after all, I was a Christian. I was so used to taking the blame for the negative things that happened to me. I felt the weight of someone else’s sin as if it were my own and shame prevented me from speaking about it.
So I planned three weddings, went through with one, all to the same man. I’ve stayed married to him through better and worse. Mostly worse. I keep seeking God’s wisdom and truth about who I am in the midst of my challenging circumstances. And I pray for rescue.
See, I believe if God wants me out of my marriage He can do it. I don’t pray for my husband’s death, but I have thought about what life would be like when that happens. Practical things like liquidating his business and frivolous things like finally buying the bed that would be best for MY back. God could also bring my husband to divorce me, and I would consider him as an unbeliever and let him go. God could also decide to change things in my marriage as well.
So far there’s been no funeral.
Does that mean I should never consider legal separation? I don’t have biblical grounds (in the truest sense) to justify divorce. My husband, I believe, is mentally ill. I married for “in sickness and in health.” He won’t get treatment and is blind to his foolish ways and won’t seek wise counsel. I pray for God’s leading and guiding.
It is hard not to long for escape. Today I grieve a young woman who did the best she could in her circumstances 26 years ago. I weep for her vulnerable heart and I grieve for the loss of many dreams – primarily of being loved and cherished by my husband. I have to believe my “happily ever after” ultimately is with Jesus and my lack in this life and marriage forces me to depend on Him in a deeper way than I probably would have otherwise.
Do I sound foolish to you? Many would say “Leave” but it really is not so easy. However I am praying a different prayer now. Not just one of “rescue” or for a job or some other way to survive. I’m praying that for the sake of the glory of God and His name and power shown through my life, that He will break the bonds of control that are currently holding me captive. Not just that I would endure them with grace, or that I would try to break them on my own (realistically, it would not happen even with a divorce or separation, no matter what a lawyer might tell me). My heart has to listen to my God and that can be a difficult voice to hear amongst the negativity, grief and old message tapes that tell me I am unworthy of the love and devotion of a godly man.
In reality I have the love and devotion of a godly man already. His name is Jesus. And maybe, just maybe, if I were not struggling in the way that I am, I would not be as driven to seek my value, worth and love from my Creator King who also says:
“For your husband is your Maker. His name is Yaweh of Hosts – and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer. He is called the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like wife of youth when she is cast off.” (Isaiah 54:5-6)
I am loved and cherished and worthy of that from the One who made me and will use me for His glory, in spite of my pain and suffering. If God can be glorified in me today, then I will be grateful that I was found usable by Him. I may not see the impact. I have to trust the outcome to Him and cling to my Husband and trust Him for everything else. He’s my God. He can do it.
“Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6 HCSB)
I love this verse. It has been a reminder to me for many years that I need to be careful with whom I share the things in my life that are important. Let me give you an example. I used to go visit my family. I served in ministry, on staff of a small church plant. I was married, and was going to an Evangelical graduate school. I was content with the work God had given me to do. But my family didn’t believe in a life lived in whole-hearted devotion to Jesus Christ. When I would go home on holidays to share my joys I was met with criticism and rejection. I should divorce my husband (they didn’t like him, and they had some good reasons for that). I should get a ‘real” job. I should lose weight. If there were anything they could find fault with in my life, they did.
Eventually a younger, fellow counseling student that I was meeting with, brought me to this verse. I needed to stop casting my pearls before people who would only trample them. We saw God move in our church in amazing ways. It was a time of significant personal and spiritual growth for me. My family however would never be able to appreciate or celebrate those things because they were “holy treasures” to me. My “pearls.” My husband would laugh as I would go home to visit family (an hour drive) and repeat to myself: “My family are pigs. My parents are swine.”
Not very Christian, huh? I laugh now, but I was dead serious then. See, I really desired and needed their approval and acceptance as it has always been withheld. It became clear that living the life that God had called me to would never give me that kind of love and acceptance with my family. I could “want” it but not “need” it. Easier said than lived out. So I had to learn that when I went home, I did not share my heart or my dreams or my life with my family. I listened and asked questions. Over the years of doing this I have felt more and more like a foreigner visiting a land where I do not know the language. I do not feel a part of my family because they cannot accept or approve of my choices in life. Persevere in a difficult marriage? Unheard of –just get a divorce. Stay at home with children or even home school them (which I did for a few years). I should be using my Master’s degree!
Today I revisited this verse when I spent time meditating on God’s Word and I realized that the context of this verse puts a little bit of a different spin on its meaning. Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount and cautions about judging others without first looking at the sin in our own life. Right after that comes this verse. I sat there thinking about it, perplexed, because I struggled to figure out the connection based on the way I had been applying it in my life. Finally I grabbed “The Bible Knowledge Commentary” off my bookshelf and looked it up and on page 33 it says this:
“. . . when seeking to help another, one must exercise care to do what would be appreciated and beneficial. One should never entrust holy things (what is sacred) to unholy people or throw pearls to pigs. Dogs and pigs were despised in those days.” (Walvoord, J.F & Zuck R.B, Victor Books, Wheaton Il 1983).
Now at first glance that appears to fit my application. But I’ve been reading a chapter of Proverbs almost every day for the past seven months and there is a recurring theme regarding the wise and foolish (unholy) people of this world.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and correction.” (Prov. 1:7)
“The one who corrects a mocker will bring dishonor on himself.” (Prov. 9:7)
“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but one who hates correction is stupid.” (Prov 12:1)
“Don’t speak to a fool, for he will despise the insight of your words.” (Prov. 23:9)
“A wise correction to a receptive ear is like a gold ring or an ornament of gold.” (Prov. 25:12)
I’m not saying that my previous application of this verse was wrong. I think that this broadens the application. Not only do we need to be careful who we share our life, our hopes, dreams and challenges with as we follow Jesus, because we do need the encouragement of support of the body of Christ. In addition to that, however, we need to be careful when we are called to give feedback or try to challenge someone, even a “supposed” Christian.
First, we need to follow Jesus’ words and make sure our own hearts are pure and that we are not doing the very same things (or worse) that we are about to confront someone about. Secondly, if we know that person well, we need to assess if they might even be receptive to hearing our heart of concern for them and their walk with God. Are they a wise person or a fool? Sometimes we don’t know until we have to try to confront, and tell the truth in love.
Let me give two examples. First a negative one. I had someone slander me in ministry. I prayed, I confessed, I sought insight from an accountability partner as to whether the very sin I was aware of in this other person might be something I myself was engaging in. God showed me an area where I had seriously erred in the relationship. So I met with this woman and began by confessing my own sin and apologizing for the words I had spoken in haste. She was receptive to that. But when I turned and pointed to the slander that she had committed to writing to another person about me, she laughed in my face. I was sad because I had liked this woman and had hoped to have her serving in our ministry. After that conversation however, I left knowing that “fool” or “unsafe” were better applied to her and that I could never entrust leadership to a woman who would so callously abuse my reputation with lies and willingly confessed to doing it to many others. The funny thing was, she claimed she wanted to support me in ministry and was blind to the fact that this in essence undermined my efforts to serve and lead. My pearls were trampled.
A more positive example. A week ago a woman from my small group called me up on the phone. She was so apologetic and said that she wondered if I had been hurt by her in some way and if there was something she needed to repent of because she had felt that on Sunday mornings I had been distant and not “warm” in my interactions with her. I sat there stunned. She had not done anything wrong. I apologized profusely for any unintentional hurt I might have caused and applauded her courage and her sweet spirit in the way she confronted me. She didn’t even mean to confront me! She thought it was her fault. Talk about a humble, gentle and sweet spirit. We had a wonderful conversation for over an hour and our relationship grew because she was wise in how and who she shared her issue with. I’m not perfect. I could have taken offense and trampled her feelings (like the previous woman had done to me). But I treasured the holy pearls that this woman brought before me and in the end, they got a little more polished from the interaction. More beautiful.
So who do you know that you can share your pearls with and who are the pigs and dogs in your life? Sometimes it’s good to know these things before troubles and conflict emerge. Not that we never confront a fool, but in doing so we go in knowing that we may be a bit bruised for the effort and trust God work in their hearts. Jesus gives us permission to be careful with who we judge and how we do it. He gives us guidance, because we do need to judge at times. But first let us be found worthy of treasuring the pearls of others instead of acting like pigs ourselves.
During my quiet time a few months back, I was reading through a chapter of an Old Testament book as well other portions of Scripture and found myself in Jeremiah which I hadn’t read in a long time. I found it interesting and encouraging. Especially when I got to Jeremiah 13. Then I laughed a bit before I sobered up and really dug into the truth of what God was saying to me.
Let me paraphrase some of what happens at the beginning of this chapter. God tells Jeremiah to go buy a linen loincloth (underwear), wear it and not get it wet. Then he had to take it off and bury it near a river. Later, Jeremiah was instructed to go dig it up.
This is what Jeremiah wrote: “Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing.” (Jer 13:7 ESV)
God then said to Jeremiah, “This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing.” (Jer 13:10 ESV)
I was amazed at how creative our God is in describing sin. Any parent knows first-hand the joys of “dirty underwear” or diapers. And God describes sin with that imagery (timeless truth!). When God looks at those of us who refuse to listen and obey His word, worship other things with our time and money, well, our pride is like dirty underwear to God.
Sin is like dirty underwear. Ewwwww!
I don’t want to be like dirty underwear before the Most High God! I wouldn even want anyone to suspect I might have dirty underwear that’s hidden. But this underwear that God is talking about is soiled beyond belief. There is no hiding the sin in our hearts before Him. It stinks. It reeks. It’s a colorful and yet repulsive image. I don’t like the idea of myself in my sin being on par with that kind of image. I don’t want to wear dirty underwear – physically or spiritually!
How about you?
For personal hygiene, I change my underwear every day. How much more do I need to take off the soiled underwear of my heart (confession of my sin) and exchange it at the cross for a fresh heart, forgiven and ready to move forward into a day, clean and pure in Christ.
Yes, my heart (underwear) will get dirty again. Hence the importance of daily confessing my sin to God and repenting before Him. I’m not good at this and yet here is where there is freedom and power. Jesus does the laundry, I just need to drop it in His laundry basket.
So as I continue to challenge myself in changing my “underwear” I hope you will do the same. God is ready to cleanse and wash us free of our sins and give us a fresh start every day!
A friend was expressing frustration to me the other day about her husband who was not attending church. She said, “Every time he doesn’t come – that’s when he really needed to hear the message!”
I nodded my head. I understand. Totally. Then I said “Let me challenge you. Come to church and ask God to have the message be for YOU to learn and hear. Let Him deal with your husband.”
When all we do as women, is focus on the deficiencies in our men, then we have now made them our idol. Now often we think of an idol as something we worship and adore. But really, it is anything that predominates our attention and keeps us from focusing on God. That could be reading books, or watching sports or television shows or spending our time in certain activities. Even focusing solely on our fears, can make them our idol when they take our eye off the Most High God who is the only One who deserves our worship and attention. Anything that steals our focus from a life that is designed to be lived in service and worship to our King, Lord Jesus, can become an idol.
Even difficult husbands can become our idols.
So what do we do? How do we get out of that kind of obsession with our husband’s deficiencies? Basically, there are two parts to resolving this:
Pray for your husband. Pray that God will do the work that needs to be done, and leave your husband to God to fix.
Seek God with your whole heart. Not so that your husband can be changed, but so YOU can be changed. Let God meet you in your loneliness. Let Him take your hurt, and anger and resentment. Let God grow you in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ as you pursue holiness and a life devoted to Him.
That sounds simpler than it is. We are complex beings. Hormones and emotions can make it difficult. Living with someone day in and day out who doesn’t treat us as he ought (according to Scripture), is frustrating to say the least.
No one said it would be easy. Marriage is not about your happiness, it’s about reflecting God to a hurting world. Even in a marriage that is falling apart, if you choose to honor God with all that you are, you will bring honor and glory to Him, and find that your witness to the hurting and watching world around you will be even stronger because you are different, because you are faithful under adversity.
I usually attend church alone. I have to accept my husband’s choices even if I disagree with them. Those who know me best do not judge me for being solo. I do not have to carry shame when I go because I am not there to be seen and approved of, I am there to worship the King, and to serve Him. For those of you feel embarrassment over your singleness at church, please don’t. I understand firsthand the shame (which comes from our enemy) but give that to God and know that you have infinite value and worth in His eyes just for being who you are as His child.
I challenge you to chew on these things and seek God first and let Him be the husband to you that your own flesh and blood man cannot. Don’t do it to get the husband you want, do it to be the woman of God He has called you to be, and trust Him with the rest.
And in the meantime, we can pray and encourage each other on the way.
The other day, I was able to encourage a young mom whose marriage is on the verge of divorce. It is amazing how many similarities her life challenges are to my own. She’s got some tough choices ahead, and if she chooses to stay that will be challening, but it can be done and done in a way that helps her grow in her faith and as a woman and a mom.
Last week I got a chance to encourage a woman with some health issues who just wants to be healthy. Since I’ve had a little journey with natural medicine and little money, I was able to point her in the direction of some inexpensive things to try to help improver her general health before she even steps into a doctor’s office. I’m not a doctor. I’m just someone who’s got an autoimmune disease who is on a journey. . . but she felt that in some ways, that was better because I wasn’t trying to sell her anything (I don’t sell supplements or get commissions on anything I told her about).
On a recent Sunday after church, I was able to sit and listen and then pray for another woman struggling in her marriage with a spouse who is not coming to church or walking with the Lord.
I’m not telling you this to brag about how great I am because I can help people. I’m only sharing to say this: Sometimes, even when we are in the midst of our own struggles, God can use that experience to help people just starting on that path. If we are leaning on God, and can offer hope and encouragement in the darkness and confusion of this world, God is redeeming our pain, while we are still in it, for HIS glory.
I can’t make promises to woman that their lives will be dramatically improved and they will have all their heart’s desire for their marriages or health. I cannot promise that life will get easier. I can only be honest and say that I still struggle but I’m still here, plugging along on the path God has me on, and trying to be faithful to Him with each step I take. I can also give a hug. Sometimes we need “Jesus with skin on.”
Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I want to give up. Sometimes I need others around me to lift me up in prayer as I struggle with the challenges and my courage fails. Sometimes I need someone to remind me, once again, that God is GOOD. That He will be good to me, and that He is forever faithful to His children. Sometimes when I am called upon to share those truths with someone else who is hurting – I am also speaking to myself.
What a relief that I do not have to “arrive” to be usable by God. That bruised and broken at times by circumstances and stresses of life, God can still be seen in me, and can still use me to help others along the path. It reminds me that none of us are there yet and God designed the body of Christ to help us support each other in the battles of the world and against the enemy our soul. What a sweet privilege. My heart grieves for those that hurt like I do, but I take comfort that I am not alone in my challenges and that somehow God uses it all to further His kingdom.
How about you? In what ways have you seen God using you recently in your areas of struggle – to minister to someone else? If you haven’t seen that happen, pray and ask Him to show you those opportunities. There is great joy in being used by Him to help another struggling soul as we walk this road called “life.”
This was originally posted elsewhere January 2011.
I want some control in my life. The feeling that maybe, somehow, I have choices and can make a difference in the outcome of whatever circumstances I find myself in.
But so often the control I have is superficial. I can choose what outfit to wear and even what I’m going to eat and whether or not I will “cheat” on my diet. (I don’t).
I cannot chose how another person will respond to me. I cannot force someone to call me. I cannot make anyone care about my struggles. What value would that have anyway?
I am doing a diet where weight-loss is all but guaranteed. I’ve done it before and know that the weight will stay off. I consider it kind of like permanent liposuction, without the surgery. However, for some reason, my body does not let go of its fat easily. I follow the protocol to the letter and have days where the scale doesn’t move. I know I am losing inches. Things are happening that I cannot see. However much I try to control my diet, my body has its own methods that go totally beyond my ability to control.
I cannot stop breathing. I am unable to NOT think of something. Try it. Do not think of ice cream. Hmm, bet an image just popped into your head!
In reality, not much in this world is in my control. On a slick road, I can drive carefully and still might end up in an accident or in the ditch due to no fault of my own. Every breath I take is determined by God—not me. Even whether I am able to really sleep tonight, is beyond my ultimate control. I’ve even been awake with meds designed to aid sleep!
I hate the feeling of helplessness that comes with not having control. That is, until I relax and realize that another more positive word for that is surrender, or dependence. That would be scary if I didn’t know WHO I was surrendered to or dependant upon. I put my faith in Jesus Christ. He put the stars in the sky. He calms the oceans. He knows how many fat cells are dying day by day in my body. He gives me my next breath, and my ability to think, communicate, and blog!
So maybe not always being in control is an okay thing, when I relax into the arms of the One who has my sometimes seemingly out-of-control life, in His perfectly capable and wise hands.
How about you? Can you relax with the areas you cannot control and trust Jesus to be with you there?