Devotion #9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10 ESV

Many of us have experienced the deep joy that comes from being in the center of God’s will in our marriages. When we’re serving our spouses, when we choose obedience over rebellion, when we’re loving them sacrificially, when we lean in and listen over turning away, when we’ve done the hard work of learning from our trials, when we finally confess and repent of a sin we’ve hung on to for far too long, when we forgive a deep hurt we’ve been carrying, we experience His abundant blessings in our marriages. It’s in these times we have an overwhelming sense of His presence, His comfort, and His strength. The joy and the contentment in these moments are simply unmatched. 

Interestingly, we can still experience that peace and comfort when we are in the depths of a deep trial. Though our journey may be hard, suffering is absent if we are experiencing the joy that comes from being in the center of God’s will. 

The opposite is also true—when we are feeling unhappy, when we’re struggling to move on, when we’re caught in conflict, when we find ourselves in the pit, we can know it’s because somewhere in our lives, we’re not walking with the Lord. We suffer when there is a hidden sin separating us from the joy of the Lord. If you are struggling in your marriage, look at your heart and listen. Where are you failing to keep His Word?

He tells us we are to store His Word in our hearts—perhaps we’ve not spent consistent time in His Word lately. We’re told to live in community with fellow believers – perhaps we’ve not made church or gathering with believers a priority. We are told we are to have no gods before Him—perhaps there are people or things that have been taking priority in our hearts over Him. We are told to be humble—perhaps pride is ruling some aspect of our lives. We are warned not to have a spirit of fear—perhaps we’ve allowed anxieties to take over our minds. 

Here’s a hard truth that’s difficult to grasp at times—our TRIALS exist because of sin outside of us, but our SUFFERING exists because of sin inside of us. Our suffering, our pain and our turmoil, exist because of the deceit in our hearts. We want it to be the other person’s fault, so we point the finger and play the blame game. We tell anyone who will listen: I am in this situation because of him, because of her. If it wasn’t for their sin, I wouldn’t be suffering. 

But the hard truth is you are in this trial for you, because God wants to root out something in your heart that is separating you from Him. Your suffering is because He wants you to see something you have not been able to see. Yes, it’s true—you may have been sinned against, and that is what launched you into this trial…but it’s also true that the reason you are suffering is because of the sin that lives in you, not your spouse. Your suffering is your response to the trial He’s got you in. 

It takes a powerful redeeming grace to break through the hearts of stone and self-righteousness that live inside of us. We don’t want to see that we have any responsibility in it. But God, who is rich in mercy and grace, will continue to allow these challenges in our lives until we do see. When you have been brought to the place where you humbly cry out the words, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me, when you are ready to confront your own sin, when you are thankful for the spouse that God has brought into your life so you can see your sin, you know you have been visited by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. None of these attitudes are natural apart from His Spirit living in us. 

It takes grace to let go of our excuses, our rationalizations, our shifting blame, and our self-righteous arguments. It takes grace to see our responsibility in our struggling marriages. God sent His Son for more than just changed behavior, He sent His Son to die for us so that we would have a new heart and we would know the true peace and joy that comes from redeemed relationships. So if you’re willing to ask God to show you your heart, you know you have been visited by His divine grace. Ask Him today to reveal your sin behind your suffering, then fall to your knees and beg forgiveness. 

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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