"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Saturday, February 19, 2011

God is on the side of your marriage (4 of 4)

     Then, sweetly, as if assuming there will be reconciliation, the apostle Paul addresses the couple together in Ephesians 5, verses 31-33: "As the Scriptures say, 'A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
     And in I Peter 3:8-22 he broadens his audience again to address every Christian, married or single: "Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,
   'If you want to enjoy life
      and see many happy days,
   keep your tongue from speaking evil
      and your lips from telling lies.
  Turn away from evil and do good.
      Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
  The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
      and his ears are open to their prayers.
   But the Lord turns his face
      against those who do evil.' 
     "Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.  Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.  Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong."
      You might try reading Chuck Swindoll's Improving Your Serve (which transformed Jerry's first marriage) or Gary Thomas' Sacred Marriage, or the other two Gary's, Gary Smalley and Gary Chapman or anything by H. Norman Wright or  Ed Wheat, M.D. Marriage is seldom 50-50. Sometimes it has to be 100-0. Jesus calls each of us, married or single, to nothing less. 
     Frankly, having said all this, I can't guarantee this will save or even improve your marriage. God has designed the universe so your spouse's will--and ours--can (seem to) overrule His. But I can guarantee you Jesus will walk with you through whatever happens and will listen to you and speak to you as His beloved one, as long as you are waiting with a "weaned heart."
     I can guarantee this will bring you closer to your Father's heart, that though there may still be pain, it will be a different kind of pain, a cauterizing, cleansing, healing pain, a pain with purpose. For me, it is important when I'm under any severe stress (like when Rick was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer) that I do it right, that through the upcoming holocaust I learn everything which God wants to teach me, so it won't have been in vain.
     As one woman who was still standing for her marriage two weeks before her husband was due to marry another woman told her counselor Gary Thomas, "God can still restore my marriage but even if he doesn't, he's still God. This has been such a rich time for me spiritually, so profoundly life-changing. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I can't say I'm glad my marriage broke up, but I am glad for the fruit it has created." (Sacred Marriage, p. 122)

Bible references cited: Ephesians 5:31-33; I Peter 3:8-22 (New Living Translation).

Today I am thankful for what God is doing and going to do in your marriage and in your life.

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