As a Pastor, I have been asked to give spiritual guidance to couples that are struggling in their marriage. Sometimes you have both the husband and wife really wanting to make things work. This is best case scenario. Other times you have a husband that wants to fight for the marriage but his wife doesn’t or a wife that wants to fight for her marriage but the husband doesn’t. These marriages are extremely difficult to help. In any case, I am obligated by the Word of God to point couples to Jesus, to His Word, and to believe for a miracle of resurrected love that can only come when hearts are open to learn and be corrected by God’s Word. The Word of God simply doesn’t give me permission to say – “Just hang it up – you two will never make it.” Only in cases of infidelity or when one person is married to an unbeliever, does God show allowance through His Word. (And by the way, this is not to condemn anyone who is remarried or who has been divorced. Look forward – not back!)
I have never hidden the fact that Renee and I had problems in the first years of our marriage. We were passionately in love yet plagued by immaturity. We were stubborn and selfish and had slightly delusional ideas of how marriage was supposed to work as we entered marriage. Most everyone thinks they can figure out how to be married. They think love will conquer all – that is until they face a brutal awakening.
There were times where each of us would occasionally be haunted with the thought, “We might not make it.” We didn’t say it out loud to each other, but later we both found out that it was a thought we both had to cast out! We hated the thought. We wanted to make it but those kinds of thoughts do come when you feel like your feelings of love for each other have become faint to non-existent. So what kept us fighting for our marriage? Probably some of the same things that keep many people in a marriage.
Being Christians, we didn’t want our marriage to fail. What kind of testimony to God’s love and power is that? We didn’t want to suffer the embarrassment. We didn’t want to be failures. We didn’t want to be viewed as phonies and hypocrites. Those were all poor reasons for wanting to have a good marriage and yet I am glad they were there. They were a peer pressure – good or bad that helped us hang in there.
There were also the right and most important reasons that we couldn’t quit. First, we knew it was not God’s will. We believed there had to be a way to turn it around. We believed and had faith in that. Secondly, strange as it may sound, in the midst of the turmoil, I knew that I had loved my wife and that love still had to be in there. Until those feelings were resurrected, I had to live out of the commitment that comes with love. Love is more than some elusive feeling. Third, we truly believed God always has the answer you need and He is always there and not just willing, but desiring to help you get it right! Always! The question was, were we willing to humble ourselves and seek Him in whatever way it took to get the answers and help from Him to turn it around? We were! I was! I love God. I have always been determined to not let Satan eat my lunch. I have always been determined to fulfill God’s will. Renee was the same way.
I got before the Lord and being the head of my family and marriage, I sought the Lord often asking Him to change me and help me do whatever it took to turn our marriage around. In the midst of marriage troubles, it almost always feels like your spouse is the problem. I went to the Lord not asking Him to change her, but to change me. To do that it took spending time in prayer and God’s Word. Honestly, most people aren’t willing to pay this kind of price. But the price to co-exist unhappily is higher than the price to seek God for the answers and strength to change what needs to be changed. Some men have given up and already mentally and emotionally checked out of their marriage. They have looked around at other women. They have played mentally with the thought of moving past their wife into affairs, pornography, flirting, masturbation, or whatever.
I stayed before the Lord. He helped me. He opened my eyes to look at things that bothered me with new and fresh perspective. He helped me be more patient and kind in my temperament. He helped me value the good I saw in Renee and look past the little quirks she had. I had them too! We all do! He helped me in ways that I don’t have words for. He restored our love for each other. Within a couple of years of being newlyweds, with God’s help, we were able to inwardly change and mature and watch our marriage mature. Our marriage got better every year. We now have an awesome marriage and we have matured in our love in more ways than I can describe. It makes me so thankful to God.
The Word of God can be so powerful and alive! In John 14:26, the Holy Spirit is called “the Counselor who will teach us in ALL things.” Think about that. He is the Counselor. In other words, the advice, the wisdom, the help, the perfect counsel from the one whom is ALL KNOWING is available to those that seek Him! That is why we could not quit. We knew God had every answer we needed! We knew He wanted us to have it. I knew I had the grace as the head of my marriage and family to stand and fight for our marriage. I knew I could and had to do whatever it took to get it right. God honored that and now I have the marriage I have dreamed of when it was the marriage I toyed with throwing away.
I have learned that I can’t make anyone believe God when He says, “All things are possible to Him who believes,” but I know it’s true and I do believe it! That’s all I can do. I always hope people can take hold of what I say, but if they won’t listen to God why would they listen to me? And yet I keep saying it. I pray they won’t quit. I pray that they ask God to renew their hope and then go from there. The true spiritual guidance any of us need for any area of our life is present within us if we have Jesus as our Lord and the Holy Spirit as our Counselor!
Mark 10:7-9 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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