A couple of days ago, I sat down in my office chair as I was reading a text from a dear friend whose marriage is at a crossroads. I put my phone down without responding because I wasn’t sure what to say at the time. I wanted my words to be ones that would uplift and encourage her, not feed into her despair. I grabbed my Jar of Promises (check out my previous blog, 3 Motivational Things…), a container full of verses to look up that contain God’s promises. My daughter asked if she could pick the scripture this particular day and I let her. She picked the first one right off the top and I’ll be honest and say I wanted her to dig in there a little more but she didn’t. Thank God she picked the scripture she did.
This is for my friend, she knows who she is, and anyone else who may be at a crossroads in their marriage.
Hebrews 6: 17-18 (ESV) 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
This particular scripture is referring to God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants. However, when I read this scripture I believe that the same God who wanted to show Abraham His unchangeable character is the same God we serve today.
When we are in the midst of troubling times, we have two choices to make (For my own testimony on hard times, check out Perfect and Ideal ). The first option we have, is to believe in ourselves and our ability to fix things. The thing we must ask ourselves with option number one is what is our track record? Is it perfect? Sure, we can make decisions that provide us with an immediate feeling of relief but what about the long run, do those decisions always pay out in the long run? We live in a world where we’re taught if we’re not happy with our spouse, leave and move on to the next person who will make us happy. We treat marriage as though it’s the same as dating and we end our marriages the same way we ended our relationship with our high school boyfriend. We’re outta here at the first sign of trouble.
The second option is to do as verse 18 states and “flee for refuge so that we might have strong encouraging to hold fast to the hope set before us”. While this may seem like an oxymoron, sometimes fleeing means sitting absolutely still, praying and waiting. Flee to God in prayer for your marriage, asking Him to not only heal your marriage and not just change your spouse but to change you as well, none of us are perfect.
When we say our marriage vows, we are entered into a holy covenant, an agreement. I think so often we forget that when we enter into this covenant with our spouse that there is a third-party present, God. Sadly, because we forget that He is just as much a part of our marriage as the man and woman themselves, we easily fall into the trap of believing there is no hope. But friends, God’s character is unchangeable and if we are believers like we say we are, then we have got to hold fast to God’s promises to us. The question is who do you believe in more, God’s ability or your ability? Or maybe it isn’t that you doubt God’s ability but you doubt He will do it for you.
Hebrews 17 states, “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed with an oath.” Friends, God created marriage to be a beautiful thing and I truly believe that God has a purpose for each and every one of us and for our marriages. But how can our full potential be reached in our marriages if we run in times of trouble? Could God’s desire be to show you just as convincingly as He did with the Israelites the promise of His unchangeable character through your marriage. If everything is always great, where is the opportunity for growth and refinement? Where is the opportunity to see God move and work in only ways He can if we don’t give Him the chance (and His timing) to do it? I love this image I came across on Facebook the other day, particularly the last line and it states, “They become”. Friends, marriage takes work, hard work and we (husbands/wives) can’t do it alone. Just as God guaranteed with an oath in Hebrews verse 17, our wedding vows are too an oath that our Father enters in with us. We need Him to help us, especially in times of trouble.
Friends, I am here to encourage you in marriages today. While well-meaning friends and family members will agree with you and concur that your spouse is not fulfilling their duty, that feeling of validation does nothing to save your marriage. Instead, I encourage you to turn to God, flee to God for refuge and let Him show you how if you depend on Him, He will fulfill his promise to you because He doesn’t lie and His character is unchangeable.
I reached out to two of my friends and I would like to share their testimonies with you.
Friend #1 shared this:
The first year of my marriage, the word divorce came up probably every other week. I was pregnant with our first child and on our first anniversary we were living separately (We didn’t even get to eat our wedding cake that we had kept frozen from that special day).
Although we had dated for about 7 years before marriage, somehow we were not making it as husband and wife. We had premarital counseling and received approval to be married.
Trouble came because things that we disagreed about during counseling started to appear during the marriage. One of the major disagreements was that my husband felt like he shouldn’t have to come home at a decent hour. He wanted to hang out with his friends as if he was still single. I didn’t have a problem with him hanging with his friends, I just wanted him home at a decent hour. That became a huge problem in our marriage and caused many arguments. So my response to his actions was divorce. My husband would get mad when I would bring up the dreadful “d-word”. I couldn’t understand my husband. He didn’t want a divorce but he didn’t want to compromise with me either.
Of course I believed in God and prayer but the flesh in me called my mom and dad first. Both of my parents listened to me and they never suggested divorce. I remember thinking, “Dang, why am I the only one trying to solve this by getting a divorce?” I would pray and ask God to help me because I didn’t know what to do. Months went by and of course, being as pregnant, I shed a lot of tears. This situation added so much stress to my life. I couldn’t fathom the possibility that I was going to give birth to a child and bring her into a broken home. I believe that was my breaking point, I didn’t want to raise my child as a single parent because I grew up in a single parent home.
At this point my prayers began to change, I started to pray for my husband. I was being selfish in my previous prayers because I only asked God to help me! After many prayers for myself, my husband, our marriage and our child, my situation started to turn around. My husband called me one day and said that he wanted to come home. After a of couple dates and long conversations about making the necessary changes to fix our marriage, he came home.
This year we will celebrate our 7th year anniversary! Oh and yes we have small disagreements, but divorce is never apart of the discussion. Most disagreements we can fix on our own, but if not we take it to God in prayer!
Friend #2 shared this:
My husband and I have always had a pretty solid marriage until this recent 3rd year. Things became very stressful. His sense of job security became very shaky when another company came in for a buyout, and it began to affect our entire marriage. Not knowing the entire story (because it takes time for my husband to get things out of his system) I could not understand the stress that he was going through. I felt like my husband did not want me or didn’t even love me. Many things that I’d never thought about before began to creep into my head… is he cheating on me? Why doesn’t he love me? Did I marry the wrong man? Should we get a divorce? The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy and I was allowing him to put his foot into the door. I then even considered stepping out, myself, on my husband.
I spoke with my best friend… who told me she would pray for me and that I needed to pray harder for my marriage, but more specifically, my husband. It was the turn of the year and I decided to fast and pray to save my marriage… not knowing what to expect. At the very beginning of my fast, the movie “War Room” was on demand and it was if God himself was speaking right to me. The #1 thing that I learned was that my husband is not the enemy. Satan is the enemy. Anytime I felt like blaming, complaining or criticizing my husband, I decided to pray for him instead. I begin to fight the enemy, not my husband. Almost instantly, my marriage improved.
My husband and I have dedicated to having one night out the week for family night with no screens and no interruptions where we solely focus on each other. We recently went on a marriage retreat where we were reminded of why we loved each other so much in the first place and we’re looking forward to a nice vacation in the Caribbean this summer and celebrating our 3rd year anniversary. Things have not changed at his job just yet, but we’ve changed as a married couple. It’s amazing how we went from 3 months in such a dark place to feeling like newlyweds again! God has definitely been our answer. And why that may seem cliché to most couples, we have definitely found prayer and God to be the key to our successful marriage.
Can I tell you something? Neither one of these friends saw the other’s response but do you see the commonality, here?
I pray this helps one person in some small capacity. Praying for you always, friends!
Additional Resources to Consider:
War Room DVD (There is also a Bible study in addition to the movie.)
Armor of God Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer
40 Lessons from 40 Years of Marriage
Sacred Marriage Series of Books
Boundaries in Marriage