Are you asking why during a stormy time in your life? It sure is tempting! At this time my husband and I are going through a horribly stormy time. It’s so very painful that I can’t even put it into words. Oh, it’s not about our relationship —thankfully, we’re fine with “us” right now. That hasn’t always been the case in our life together but at this point in our marriage, we’re doing quite well —really well. Thank you Lord!
But that may not be true for you. It may be that you have a very troubled marriage. And you are confused —trying to make sense of it all. If that is what is happening in your life, or if it’s something else that is troubling you, I encourage you to keep reading. I’m thinking there will be something here for you. It’s something God wants to give to you to minister to you in some way.
During This Stormy Time
In our marriage right now it’s other “stuff” in life, which is driving us bonkers. It’s tough stuff that life has delivered, such as health issues, family relationship problems, ministry matters, financial concerns, sick and dying family members who tug us in all directions. There is also work related stress, and lots more.
Previously, we were dealing with what can be termed as, “smaller storms of stress.” That’s what Anne Graham Lotz calls them. In her book, Why? Trusting God When You Don’t Understand, she talks about these “smaller storms of stress.” As she says, “They can be overwhelming when clustered together, becoming one large, collective storm of suffering.”
Yep! That sums it up pretty well, as far as what was happening with us. It all began piling up on us. At times we’ve been choking under the load of it all. And I have to say it’s now getting to us —BIG TIME! Perhaps you can relate with your “storms of stress” —big and small.
A Stormy Time that is Heartbreaking
Recently we had a doozy of a storm hit us. It sent us reeling and heart broken! As I told my husband Steve, this “storm” in itself would have been extremely difficult for us to deal with —all on it’s own. But you pile this on top of the other matters of concern and this is tough stuff to handle. It’s a lot to sort out as we try to find a “new normal” —one in which we wouldn’t have guessed we would ever have to face. But we are. We don’t want to, but we are.
Thankfully, God has been patiently helping us. We have the support of a few friends and His guidance as we keep going to Him to be our “Wonderful Counselor.” Diving into scripture, talking all of this out with Him and with each other, reading other supportive material, depending upon the prayers and counsel of a few close friends and such, has been getting us through this. All of this has helped so we don’t lose our sanity or our hope that someday we will be able to smile again.
There sure hasn’t been much smiling going on in our home recently though, I can assure you. There have been lots of tears shed, not many smiles. But we have hope that we will get there. Soon, Lord Jesus, please make it soon.
Live, Learn, and Pass It On
I’d like to share with you some of what we’ve been sorting through (without going into too many details for various reasons). I’m hoping you can relate to at least some of what we’re learning along the way. And I hope you can apply that, which you can use in your own life. They say it’s not just what we LIVE THROUGH that’s important. It’s what we LEARN THROUGH, and pass on to other people that is most important.
Diving into God’s Word has been most helpful, along with a few other resources and LOTS of prayer. In reading this book, “Why?” Anne Graham Lotz makes some good points. She writes about the storms she has been experiencing. She writes that her first reaction was to escape the hurt. Sound familiar? Don’t we usually want to escape, rather than work through that which is hurting us? I know that’s true for me.
She brings out a strange point in how we deal with pain.
“I understand that a turkey and an eagle react differently to the threat of a storm. A turkey reacts by running under the barn, hoping the storm won’t come near. On the other hand, an eagle leaves the security of its nest. It spreads its wings to ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing they will carry it higher in the sky than it could soar on its own. Based on your reaction to the storms of life, which are you? A turkey or an eagle?”
Sadly, I’m a turkey. I admit it. I hate storms. My first reaction to them is to hide. But for some reason, in my walk with the Lord, He just doesn’t let me stay hiding. He coaxes me out (or throws me out) and says, “Come, let us reason together.” Grrr… I really hate that! I want to act as a child (and sometimes I do) and hide.
But I have to say though, right here that there is a difference between withdrawing to get your bearings —to come out in a wiser way, and just plain withdrawing to hide. The first can be wise (as long as you don’t wait too long). But the second is more “turkeyish,” if I can use that term. When you look at what an eagle looks like and a turkey, more of us would probably want to be called an eagle. But many of us don’t want to do what it takes to BE an eagle. It takes bravery to step outside our comfort zones when all we want to do is withdraw.
Choices During a Stormy Time
The other morning, as I was worshipping the Lord with some friends, God revealed to me something important. During times of trial, there are two choices given in how we handle matters. We can go at them our own way and TURN AWAY from God’s presence and His guidance. Or we can LOOK TO Him as our Lord to be with us through the whole ordeal. This involves trusting Him to redeem it in some way.
Steve and I are making the stand to look TO Him. And while we’re doing this, we are learning even more compassion for others than we had before. We are keeping our focus on God’s face and are walking by faith that God will redeem that, which we present to Him. We’re looking with hope against hope —especially concerning those who we love so much, even when that love is not being returned.
It’s ironic how, before something like this happened to us, we may have been tempted to think we would know the advice we would give to others who are facing what we’re going through. It would be as if we had some type of “answers.” But now that we’re the ones going through it, we have no answers. We have no idea of how we would advise someone else in this type of circumstance, except to hang tough, and trust God. When your heart is aching and your heart is breaking, it’s all a faith-walk. Step-by-step —you’re trusting GOD’S heart that He will make a way to bring good out of all of this. We trust… even though we sure can’t see it now.
Learning, We’re Learning…
We’re learning a lot as we’re traveling along in this journey.
Anne Graham Lotz talked in her book about the things she was learning when she looked to God in pain. She learned to trust Him and TRY to soar like an eagle, rather than pulling back like a turkey. On one important day she imagined “a smile of infinite tenderness on His face as the angels in heaven applauded. ‘Anne, you’re finally getting it. Now you’re beginning to understand one of the reasons why God has allowed these bad things to happen.’”
Anne goes on to write:
“Looking back over that eighteen-month period, my thoughtful, confident conclusion is that God allowed the storms of suffering to increase and intensify in my life. This is because He wanted me to soar higher in my relationship with Him. He wanted me to fall deeper in love with Him, and to grow stronger in faith in Him. God wanted me to be more consistent in my walk with Him. He wanted me to bear more fruit in my service to Him. And He wanted me to draw closer to His heart —to keep my focus on His face, and to live for His glory alone!”
I believe that with all of my heart. I am to keep “my focus on His face, to live for His glory alone.” And that is true for all of us. If we keep our focus on Him, we can learn through even more than we live through. We can gain comfort from God, “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)
May it be so.
Sinking in the Stormy Time
This morning I thought I would finish this blog in the way I was inspired last night. But God had more. In my email box there was something waiting that ministered to my heart. I want to pass it on to you. I believe it may help you in some way, whether it’s in your marriage or with another situation.
It’s written by Sue Tipler, and is posted on the web site for the Spiritually Unyoked. Even though our situation is much different, the truths she is learning are applicable to the trials we are walking through right now.
In a blog titled, Help I’m Sinking, Sue writes that she feels like giving up and giving in sometimes. The old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them” applies. I have to say that I’ve been tempted to do the same. I’m tempted to give up and do that, which I know I shouldn’t! Thankfully she and we haven’t given into that temptation yet. We pray we never will.
A friend asked Sue what it feels like to live day in and day out in an unequally yoked marriage.
“It feels like being in quicksand. You don’t even realize you’re in it until it’s too late. And the more you struggle to get out, the deeper you sink in.
“’I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters. The floods engulf me.’ (Psalm 69:2)
“I need a big stick to pull me out and for me it’s my Bible study and Christian friends. But when my husband gets home it’s like the stick gets covered in oil and I can’t hang on.
“Renee gave me some encouragement in addition to her response to my e-mail the day before. She asked me to do some research on quicksand to see if there’s anything spiritual there. So I did. I learned some things and God spoke to me.
“First, real quicksand is rarely deep enough for you to perish. Secondly, it’s true that if you struggle and thrash around you’ll only sink deeper. Third, How do you escape the mire? Relax, move slowly, look up and let the quicksand move you into a floating position.
“So what was God trying to say to me in this seemingly benign information? First, God will not let you sink so far you can’t get out. He will rescue you. ’Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink.’ (Psalm 69:14)
“Second, if you struggle and thrash around you will sink deeper. (Do you remember Peter when he tried to walk on water on his own?)
“Third: How to escape? Relax, look UP, and let God put you in a position to be floating on top of the situation instead of being mired in it.
“I didn’t need a stick. I only need Him. Even if you don’t see anything happening in your husband’s life, you can relax:
“’Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.’ (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
“’…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.“ (Hebrews 12:2)
Thank you Lord. I needed to read what Sue wrote. I hope you’ll read the blog in its entirety, as well. It has helped, even though our situation is so very different. The principles learned are precious and vital to those of us who are struggling.
Thankful During This Stormy Time
I’m also thankful for friends. Even though we haven’t told very many people the specifics of what is going on because we know that is what we are to do (for reasons I can’t explain), a few precious friends know. They are holding us up in prayer and care. Thank you Lord. It doesn’t take all of the pain away, no doubt. But it is comforting to have them love us through this as God inspires. We’re usually on the giving end of this gift. It’s a treasure to be on the receiving end, as well.
As I said, I’m learning a few things along the way in the midst of this trying time. Part of what I’m learning is an affirmation of what God has shown us in the past.
John Piper, in his article titled, “The High Lord Regards the Lowly” wrote the following:
“Last week I was reading a book by a Scottish minister named James Stewart. He said, ‘In love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve.’ That’s why I believe some of you are being prepared right now for some precious service of love. Because you are being wounded.”
The Waiting Room Experience
I’ve known that and I’m seeing even more of that now. During this trial, while we’re in a waiting room experience with a big part of this, God is tenderizing our hearts even more for work He has for us now and in the future. His Kingdom work is still there waiting even while all of this is going on.
I pray we will be faithful —that no matter what goes on, my husband and I will stand strong and will faithfully love each other and those God brings our way. As the nurse Florence Nightingale once was heard to say, “I never want to deny God anything.” That is the prayer of our hearts.
Another prayer of our hearts is something John Piper wrote at the ending of his message. I pray this for us and I pray this for those of you who are suffering in some way… may it be so:
“May God grant a special grace to you who are groaning under some burden. Look eagerly for the new tenderness of love God is imparting to you even now.”
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
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