Devotion #11

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

So often we try to look at our situation through our own lens, through our own eyes. We try to figure out our struggle through our own limited understanding. And when we do this, our trials can grows to overwhelm us. 

Somehow, we’ve landed in a marriage filled with conflict or apathy, and we wonder how we got here. We had these expectations for how this was going to go, how we were going to be treated, and somehow we’re far from that center. We’ve been hurt by the words and actions of our spouse and we don’t know how to move past it because they’re not willing to admit their failures. Many of us will turn to God in these moments and pray for our spouse to change. We pray they see how they have hurt us, we pray that they recognize our needs, we pray that God “fixes” their selfishness and transform them into the loving spouses we deserve. Those prayers seem to go answered, so they grow more fervent, then suddenly become apathetic as they remain unresolved. Our once desperate prayers begin to fuel bitterness and resentment. We grow further apart as our grumbling increases, and we wonder if it’s even worth the fight. Maybe God doesn’t want us in this marriage, maybe He never wanted it in the first place, maybe I was outside of God’s will when I said yes to this and God is just trying to show me my error in judgment. We begin to look for justification to get out. 

Through many difficult trials in my marriage, I’ve learned to understand that His ways are not our ways. We can’t always look at our situation through our limited lens and think we understand His plan because our hearts are deceitful. They hide the truth of purpose in our marriage to us. But our sovereign God exists outside of time—that means He can see what we cannot see. He’s got the big picture in view, He sees it through to the end. All we can see is this painful moment in front of us—it’s but a tiny blip on the eternal timeline. We think we understand, but we have such a limited perspective. God sees the big picture, and He promises to work all things out for the good of those who love Him. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 ESV

Not some things—all things. That means you and your marriage are included. He promises to work out your marriage for good. 

The problem is in how we define good. Our good is our happiness. We think we have an understanding of good, but if we’re being honest, our good is really just the way we want things to work out. We’ve been conditioned by the world to believe that we have certain rights to our way, and we use that conditioning to define our good. We have a fundamental misunderstanding of what His good is, so we replace it with our definition of good. 

So, what’s His good? We find that by asking what is God’s greatest priority?

“…so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:10-11ESV

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. 

Hebrews 12:6 ESV

God’s greatest priority is your salvation and your sanctification. Every part of His plan and His will is working toward that end. He wants your life and your marriage to shout His name to the world so that every single person watching you do life sees His glory and bows their own life to Him. And the hard truth is that’s not going to happen if everything is happening according to your plan…because your plan is all about the glory of you. 
Sometimes God allows us to be thrown into a pit—not because we were being picked on, but because we’ve been picked out. He allows challenges into our lives because He knows we have a darkness in our hearts that needs to be revealed. He will continue to press down on that darkness because sometimes that’s the only way we can see it. He is chastening our hearts to be more like Him, so we reflect more of Him in our lives and our marriages, so those in the game with us and those on the sidelines see more of Him and less of us. 

Back to those unanswered prayers about our spouses…our God promises to answer all prayers that are asked according to His will, so why aren’t they being answered? 

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

1 John 5:14 ESV

What is His will for you? Your salvation and sanctification. Yes, it’s also for the salvation and sanctification of our spouses and others watching, but His will for your life starts by revealing your heart to you so that it grows to be more like Him. Shift your prayers to reflect His will for YOU, allow Him to transform YOUR heart so that you can love your spouse with the same steadfast love that He loves you. When you were dead in your trespasses, He chased after you because of His great love for you. What if you looked more like Him in your marriage—what if you were to chase after your spouse with the same pursuing love that He has for you, even when they are dead in their trespasses?

Stay in the fight, my friends. You can bet the reason you are walking through this difficult situation or dealing with a difficult spouse is because God loves you so much that He wants you free from the chains you don’t see. You are in the trial because you have not surrendered some part of your heart, and He’s going to continue to press on that darkness until you are free. God allows trials into our lives to conform our conduct and change our character to resemble Jesus. He wants all of you, and He will continue to chase after you until He has your whole heart. 

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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