Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself. -Madeleine L'Engle
When hard times come, it's totally natural to ask, "How do I get out of this?!" Life is filled with all kinds of suffering. Some of us are suffering in a bad marriage and our spouses just won't get their act together, and it feels like it's lethal. The fleshly reaction is to get out of the suffering one way or the other. But God has other ideas. In Romans 5:3-4 Paul says,
We also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Suffering is a tool that God uses to form us and to mold us to deepen our intimacy with Christ. Rather than the fleshly response of trying to get out, we can chose to ask, "Alright, I'm in this trial and I don't want to waste it. Lord, how are You going to use this suffering to grow me, to deepen my walk with Jesus?"
It's a recalibration of the mindset from flesh to Spirit, and it works in EVERY suffering. Every difficulty we face is an opportunity to become more like Christ and experience Christ more intimately.
That being said, please hear me: God does not expect you to endure physical or sexual abuse in the name of suffering producing growth. If your spouse is abusing you, tell someone in your church whom you trust or another authority who can intervene.
But what if your spouse just doesn't care?
- Ask God to do a miracle; keep asking, He's capable, He can do it!
- Fight for your marriage; don't fall into the temptation of throwing in the towel.
- And, here's the most important thing, walk in the Spirit.
Why? Because the best relationships are between two people walking in the Spirit, loving one another.
Jesus, be my strength and patience in my marriage and all relationships. I don't want to waste a single suffering. Use every difficulty I face to draw me into deeper intimacy with You. Show me what I can learn from these hard times; make me more like Jesus because of them. Amen.