Some of us are in mediocre marriages that are simply coasting right now.
And some of us are in truly awful marriages, marriages that make you feel like you could play the role of Fantine in Les Miserables and sing "I Dreamed a Dream" with as much despair as Anne Hathaway did in the recent film.
Earlier this week, I wrote about remembering that change doesn't happen in an instant and that we should be patient while waiting for it to occur. While wrapping up, I asked, "Do you want to jump ship and wonder if tomorrow would have been the day your marriage began to change, or will you continue in faith holding onto your Heavenly Warrior for the strength to continue loving and hoping in what God is fully capable of doing?"
While I think we should always remember that God is fully capable of transforming our marriage and maturing our husband, I want to clarify one thing.
I think that sometimes we can be unhappy and yet believe that God can change our marriage. But sometimes I also think that the belief becomes overly focused on the changes we want to occur. Our eyes should not be fixed on the possible future or on what might happen. Our eyes should be fixed on Christ.
In her tiny, but potent, devotional Joy, Lydia Brownback writes about a friend named Alex who although married to an unbeliever, she radiated joy and hope in Christ. Several years passed without Lydia interacting with her, but one day their paths crossed again. Lydia writes that Alex was nearly unrecognizable; her husband had left her because of her faith in Christ and Alex was now living with another man having now chosen to walk apart from Christ. Furthermore, her joy was gone and she now radiated despondency and hopelessness. Lydia writes,
Joyful feelings aren't a measure of our Christian commitment. In Alex's case, the joy was real; God had freed her from her sin and the barrenness of life apart from Christ. However, much of her joy sprang from a hope that God would bring her husband to Christ too. When he didn't, her hope died. The joy promised in Scripture is different from the joy of personal expectation, our hope of some good thing we want God to do in our lives. While it is natural to hope for a good outcome in our difficulties and to trust God for it, we set ourselves up for a spiritual crisis if we expect that things will work out as we think they should. (p.60-61)I don't want to paint some rosy, unrealistic picture that leaves you with the impression that if you just hope that God will change your marriage, that it will. I don't want you to let your hope stop there.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.(1 Corinthians 15:19 ESV)Yes, God can change your marriage. Absolutely. But we have to lift our eyes off of our earthly husband and focus on our eternal Bridegroom. We need to keep our eyes fixed on the eternal, not the temporal.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.That is where true hope is found. Not in our marriage, not in our husband, but in Christ. Only in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)
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