I have been in a marriage I wanted out of, even planned to leave. By God’s stunning and undeserved grace, I stayed, so did my husband. But before you read that too fast, please know that getting from then until now in our marriage was a long, hard and ugly road.
In a recent time with the Lord a passage of Scripture so captivated me heart that I shared it in this post. But it keeps percolating in me like a steaming pot of coffee and I had to pour out another cup here.
How is it that my husband and I stayed, when our hearts wanted out? How is it that anyone stays when the option and desire to run overtakes them? Not only from an unstable marriage but even from that which we have no real choice to run from, a health diagnosis, the pain of a wayward child, being caregiver to an elderly parent or deep grief that hounds us. Life doesn’t always afford us the luxury of packing up and picking a new one, in fact, rarely is that an option.
Paul knew this well, as he sat in prison writing to the church at Ephesus. But he gives us a beautiful example of how to remain in the hard circumstance. He didn’t just grin and bear it, far from it!
- He asked others to pray for him. In Ephesians 6:19, he asks the believers he is writing to to pray, not for his release, but for his boldness as he stays.
- He takes his eyes off himself. When we find ourselves feeling stuck in a staying situation that is hard and requires enduring, we can easily send out pity-party invitations and wallow in our own self pity. Not Paul, he writes this bold letter to the Ephesians to sharpen them and in verse 22 of chapter 6 he tells them he is sending his buddy, Tychicus, for the purpose of encouraging them. I have to think that he was encouraged himself as he took his eyes off his situation and instead looked to encourage others in theirs.
- He focuses on God’s plan in the situation. Why might the Lord have me here in this season? Nothing is in vain in the Lord’s economy, so there is purpose in and for every season under heaven. Paul recognizes that the Lord can use *even this* for His glory. So rather than looking at his own desire to run from the circumstance, he looks to boldly proclaiming the mystery of the gospel right there in the middle of that hard place.
What about us? How might we then be like Paul, in the inevitable hard places we find ourselves? Who have you asked to pray for you in it? Where is your focus, on the problem, pain, circumstance OR is it on seeking what God’s good purpose might be and how you can be a light for those around you right where you are?
My husband and I eventually got to the place of looking towards God’s purpose, praying for God’s will and seeking to please the Lord with our marriage. By His grace alone, we celebrate 21 years of marriage this week. But hard circumstances don’t always end that way, yet regardless of the ending, the purpose is always for us to grow in our walk with the Lord and know Him better. When we follow Paul’s example, the ending always works together for the good of those called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), whether we see it here or in Glory.
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