A number of years ago we took a trip to Kenya, Africa to visit our son and daughter-in-law who were living there at the time. We pray we’ll never forget the many things we learned while we were there in Africa.
As we thought of this Marriage Insight we thought we’d like to share with you a few marriage thoughts that the Lord gave to us during our trip. You don’t have to go to Africa to learn these lessons, but it sure did help us.
First Cindy will share what God impressed upon her heart. And then I’ll share what made a lasting impression upon mine. We pray they will minister to you and to your marriage, as well.
Life and Marriage Lessons Learned in Africa
While visiting Africa, our son introduced us one day to a man whose name is Peter. He had/has been a great friend to him. Our son told us what a great guy he was, and how helpful he had been to him. Plus he expressed to us how much respect he had for him.
But what especially touched our hearts was what occurred after our initial greeting. Peter turned to Steve and asked him, “Tell me brother, are you born-again?” Steve said, “Why yes I am; and so is Cindy.” Peter rejoiced with us in the Lord. And then he said, “I ask everyone I meet that question. That is because I want everyone to know my Jesus.” That statement touched our heart deeply. Oh, if only we were all that bold to tell others about Jesus!
Our conversation together was wonderful. But what especially impressed us was the fact that our son, who is a prodigal, held such admiration for this godly man. As a matter of fact, it seemed like everywhere we turned, God brought believers our way.
I wish we could share all of our experiences. But during our time in Africa God showed us continual glimpses that behind the scenes He was at work in our son’s life. For years we didn’t SEE Him working in our son’s life. But behind the scenes He was very busy. Some people call that a “God Wink.” We call(ed) them “God Sitings.” Whatever it is, thank you Jesus for that glimpse!
Marriage Lessons Learned in Africa
There are two main lessons that we learned through this. One is that we can’t always trust in what we think is happening. Appearances can be deceiving. As I said, for years, we prayed but didn’t see God working in our son’s life. But in that span of time, God opened His hands and gave us a glimpse of some of the ways He was working behind the scenes. We were amazed! And we were humbled.
If you have a prodigal child, family member, or a prodigal spouse, keep praying and trusting God. Even if you can’t see God working, put your trust in the fact that He is. Keep praying and believing. God does not always show us evidence of what He is doing. He doesn’t have to. It is a special gift when He does. That’s all a part of this faith walk we are traveling on this side of heaven. God expects us to trust Him. He expects us to have faith in Him, no matter what. F.A.I.T.H. = Forsaking All I Trust Him!
God IS trustworthy, and there is no One better to place our trust in than God!
And secondly, while in Africa:
This event illustrated to me what it says in Matthew 5:
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.“
Just as Peter was one of the many “lights” in our son’s life, you can be a “light” in this world as well. You may be the only “light” that your spouse will pay attention to… You never know. Who knows how God will use you? I saw how God used us, and my brother Rick’s wife Linda, to be lights to him in his prodigal walk. Eventually, God drew my brother to Himself through these lights. He eventually gave his life completely to Christ.
Even in our imperfectness, God used us. (My brother told us so.) And if He can use us, He can certainly use you. Please clear the path so He can do so. Follow God closely and He can use you in amazing ways.
It is our prayer that you treat you spouse in such godly ways, that when others who don’t know God in a personal way, see how you live within your marriage, they will want to know our God better!
We’d like to pose a few questions to you. Do you allow the light of the Lord to shine brightly in how you treat your spouse? Do your words and actions benefit “everyone in the house” (and outside of it)?
It’s not too difficult to treat your spouse in a positive way when things are going smoothly. But the challenge comes when your spouse upsets you. Are you dimming the “light” of your countenance by your actions? Are you putting God’s light under a “bowl” of resentment and toxic behavior? Or are you choosing to let God’s light come through?
It’s not that you can’t ever get upset. It’s common to have upsets in marriage. Here is a link to a short, humorous clip on a wife that doesn’t always “light up” in their marriage. It happens:
(Sorry about the one swear word.) But the point is that there is a difference between respectfully handling what needs to be done and handling your “upsets” in toxic ways. Think about it; pray about it. Does God’s light shine through your words and actions?
I pray that God will work in your life in such a way, that your spouse and others will see your “good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.“ (For further reflection, read 1 Peter 3, and Ephesians 5:8-17. Also read, 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11.)
OTHER LESSONS LEARNED IN AFRICA:
In Kenya, I was reminded that if we’re going to truly succeed at anything it’s going to require perseverance. At the time of our visit a large percentage of Kenyans were out of work. To them, perseverance meant finding enough food and necessities to survive another day. They had a different measuring stick entirely for determining success.
And yet we couldn’t get over the smiles we encountered everywhere we went. It seemed like everywhere we turned in Africa people asked us if we “liked” their country. When we would say that we did, their smiles grew larger. It was obvious that they were thrilled! This was a real lesson for us. As we persevere it’s important not to lose our “smile” along the way. It’s especially difficult to do this when we’re hurting. But it’s still important.
How I apply this to marriage is that if we want our marriages to succeed, it will mean having an attitude of perseverance. In spite of the problems that come our way, if we persevere and apply God’s principles, we WILL survive. It may be just one hour at a time. But in God’s strength, we can make it.
No matter what, however, lets try NOT to lose our smile along the way. We’re told in the Bible that laughter is good medicine. He wants us to apply it to our lives. And if you see someone (especially your spouse) without a smile, give them one of yours. That way, you’ll both feel better.
Also, Make Sure You Don’t Grow Weary in Doing Good
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to cling to Galatians 6:9. In this scripture the Apostle Paul says, “Do not become weary in doing good. For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.“ The determination to persevere in marriage has little to do with “feelings.” Feelings can deceive us. Don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.
In his book, Secrets of the Vine, Bruce Wilkinson made this comment in talking about his wife Darlene:
“My love for my wife is constant. But my feelings for her are far different during an argument than they are during a candlelight dinner. Yet it’s important that we don’t measure the depth of our relationship by feelings at any particular moment.”
I sure can relate! There are times when my feelings for Cindy are deeper than the deepest ocean. But there are other times, when I’m barely treading water. I’m determined, however, that though my feelings may change—my love and my commitment won’t. I thank God that He is faithful to help me to live this mission.
And just like those who were in Africa shared their smiles with us, we work to let God’s smile come forth in our life together as we persevere. We hope you will too.
This is our prayer for you:
“May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.“ (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
We ask God to:
“Fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.“ (Colossians 1:9-10)
Steve and Cindy Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, giving you “smiles” and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below to do so:
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4 responses to “Marriage Lessons Learned in Africa”
(Kenya) The following was sent to Marriage Missions from a subscriber in Kenya: “Hello, This was encouraging to read considering, I am a Kenyan and very proud of it. Please pray for Kenya (its economy, leadership and citizens). As you saw there are so many hardships and like you saw for yourselves most people just SURVIVE somehow. Welcome again!”
(Nigeria) Just this morning, I was discussing with some people how the lessons I listened on tape during my Diploma Course in Bible College have helped me survive the problems that I have passed through these years. Perseverance or call it long-suffering, is no longer in the dictionary of many people and Christians alike. Hence, the increase in troubles in every sphere of life. May the Lord take us back to the college of perseverance in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Thanks for your advice Cindy and Steve. I just wonder, how long would you persevere if your spouse ignores or even becomes non-responsive and cold to your kind gestures of being good; worse still if you find you are the only one who shows the kind gesture whenever there’s tension between both of you? It’s really draining me.
Hi Damaris, I’m so sorry that your spouse is doing that to you. It never should be! You ask “how long” you persevere. Honestly, I can’t tell you that. What does God tell you? What did you promise in your wedding vows?
But on the other hand, persevering doesn’t mean that you just roll over and allow the other spouse to use you as a rug–to step upon, or a wall–to ignore. Obviously, there is a lack of respect going on when a spouse walks upon or ignores the other when that spouse is reaching out to him or her–especially in love. That is a time when love must be tough. You apply different principles to different situations… but always, always prayerfully when it’s a tough love situation.
It’s hard to explain what I mean by tough love in this type of format. But it comes down to the fact that sometimes we have to be firm. However, you are to do so out of love–motivated by love. I’m going to give you links to a couple of articles I want you to prayerfully read. They aren’t gospel, but they written with biblical principles in mind. Here they are: The first one is titled, “Implementing Tough Love With Your Spouse.” You can find it at: https://www.covenantkeepers.org/online-articles/42-conflict-resolution/320-implementing-tough-love-with-your-spouse. The next one is titled, “When Tough Love is Necessary.” You can find it at: https://blog.lifeway.com/womenallaccess/2014/05/12/when-tough-love-is-necessary/.
I encourage you to be very prayerful as you glean through these articles. They are written by human beings; and humans are not infallible. But the Lord is. See what you believe the Lord is telling you to do as you look through this scripturally. I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you what I believe I would do. I would approach my husband in meekness. Meekness is defined as “strength under control.” My husband is my marriage partner–not to be ignored or dismissed or treated disrespectfully.
I would not allow him to keep treating me disrespectfully. That is not good for me or for him. It will just enable him to continue on in his toxic behavior–treating me like I am a rug to be stepped upon, which can cause him to lose all respect for me. And that’s just not acceptable! Persevering and approaching our spouse does not include groveling, or allowing myself to be stepped upon. Sometimes it’s drawing a line in the sand, respectfully but firmly so they will take us seriously.
I’ve seen a lot of marriages turn completely around when the one spouse shakes up the other so he/she realizes that he/she can’t keep getting away with poor behavior. I’ve also seen spouses walk away from marriages after years of being walked upon. And when they do, the other spouse wakes up and tries to make it right, but the spouse that is walking away gives no more chances for reconciliation. They are fed up. Please don’t let yourself get to that place. Do something to shake your husband up before you get to this place so there is more of a chance that he will stop treating you like he is, before you get to the place of thinking, “It’s too late.” I don’t know what that will take, but prayerfully contemplate this.
I want you to know though, that some spouses will never “get it.” They will just keep going on with their dysfunctional behavior. There is no guarantee that your husband will respond to tough love in the way he should–the way you and God would have him. But to keep doing things the way you have in the past usually means that you will keep getting the same results, or even worse. He or you will give up on your marriage. And that’s not what you want either. Something has to change here.
Before you do anything drastic though, I recommend you read the articles I mention above. Also, put “silent treatment” into our search feature on this web site and read the articles you believe God would have you. You may pick up some other ideas that may be useful. I hope you do. I also pray for you as you do. “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) … For you:
“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)