Tag Archives: marriage memory verse

Expect Trouble, But Have Peace

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

You know what? It’s been a hard year, with disappointments, frustrations, and tragedies for so many people I know. I’ve also experienced some challenges.

But one thing that has made a difference in my level of contentment is not expecting everything to go smoothly or for this life to be pain-free. Whatever has happened in 2016, I’m still a happy person. Partly because I expect trouble, but I have peace.

Expect Trouble But Have Peace John 16-33

For a long time, this wasn’t true in my life, and in my marriage. Years ago, when my husband and I faced difficulties, I got angry. Not just with him, but with how Life itself had turned on me. Hadn’t I married a great guy? Hadn’t I tried to pursue God? Wasn’t I doing better than anyone, including me, had anticipated? So why wasn’t everything working out for me?

Many marriages have problems that need solving, but then we add to that pile with issues that are really unmet expectations. We thought it would be easy — it wasn’t. We thought our spouse would agree with us — they didn’t. We thought our tough past was behind us — it wasn’t. We thought we’d have sex nearly every day — we didn’t.

I’m not saying these aren’t real issues. I’m saying we make them worse with our personal indignation, that attitude that this shouldn’t be happening to me! Well, to borrow a well-known phrase, whoever promised you a rose garden?

Last I checked, we’re not still in the Garden of Eden, the world is broken in many ways, and Jesus Himself said we’d have trouble. “In this world you will have trouble.” He couldn’t make it any clearer. The apostle Peter also reminds us that Satan’s actively trying to make our lives hard: Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We’re simply not promised perfection here.

But we are promised something that gives us hope, joy, and gratitude. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Oh, that’s right: Jesus has got this covered.

I’ve seen God work in my life — all the trouble that my husband and I have overcome with His help. Other marriages that have come through difficulties and found a better, stronger place. Relationships reconnected. Marriage beds revived.

Maybe this holiday season, we need to remember that Jesus Christ came to Earth for one main purpose — to overcome. He overcame our sin, our hopelessness, our brokenness.

We don’t get to go through this life without challenges and hardships. We should expect trouble. But we can have peace. We can have peace that God is working in our lives and, if we ask Him to, He can work in our marriages.

Are You Treasuring Your Marriage Bed?

It’s that time of year when you’re buying gifts for the beloved people in your life, including your husband (or wife). As I thought about this season of giving, I recalled this passage from Matthew 6:19-21:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Of course, the primary message of this scripture is a spiritual application.

However, these verses also made me think of why we actually buy stuff for our families. Yes, there’s meeting your Secret Santa duty for the office party or buying presents for extended family because that’s just what you do. But most of the people on our list are people we’re in relationship with — people to whom we want to express our appreciation and love. We spend on these people because they matter to us more than the cash in our pocketbooks or buying another trinket or piece of clothing for ourselves. We invest our treasure, and that’s where our heart goes.

Of course, God should have our ultimate treasure. But we also give to the people we love.

Which makes me wonder about a conversation I had with another marriage blogger recently. We’ve noticed that wives sometimes struggle to buy things for their marriage bed.

Maybe you hear ideas about sprucing up your bedroom and feel like that’s unnecessary and even indulgent. You look at the lingerie ticket price and decide you can just sleep in your old T-shirts instead. You consider booking a hotel for a single night and reconsider because you could use that money for the appliance you’ve been wanting. You look at Christmas gift ideas related to your sex life and determine that you don’t really need that stuff so why bother.

Hey, I admit feeling rather selfish and somewhat silly purchasing a sex pillow recently. But why? If my kid had needed a new pillow, I wouldn’t have blinked before getting him one. I would have bought it for him not because the pillow matters so much, but because my child and his sleep matter to me.

So why wouldn’t we invest in something, and someone, who means so much to us? Why don’t we apply “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” to our marriage beds?

Matthew 19:21While it’s clear from context this isn’t the primary point of this verse, it’s still a wise principle we know to be true. Where we put our time and money says a lot about our priorities. As they say, show me your calendar and your checkbook, and I’ll tell you what really matters to you.

Maybe we could be a bit more generous this holiday season. Maybe we could find a little extra money to buy something — lingerie, a marital aid, a getaway, etc. — that adds to our physical intimacy. Maybe a sex-themed gift would make our husband (or wife) feel valued.

Just a thought.

Related Post: A Sleigh-ful of Gift Ideas for Your Spouse

November Giveaway — Thanks to all those who participated. And the winner is Stephanie! Here’s what she’ll be receiving:

Open box showing giveaway items

Does God Want to Save Your Marriage?

Does God want to save your marriage? That’s the question I consciously, and more often subconsciously, asked myself when my marriage was on the brink many years ago. Believe me when I say that I was 90% sure we were not going to make it. Things look dire.

But as I prayed and prayed, I couldn’t figure it out. I was trying so hard to make things work — reading Christian marriage resources, seeking counseling, attending Bible classes centered on making your marriage better. And I was praying. Mostly pleading in prayers that God would fix the mess that our relationship had become.

does-god-want-to-save-your-marriageI would read verses like these and wonder why He bothered to make such promises when they didn’t seem true for me:

In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came before him, into his ears.

It felt like He wasn’t listening. Or didn’t care how close we were coming to our breaking point. As if He could take His sweet, eternal time, while our hearts and our marriage fell to pieces.

Yes, I was bitter and hopeless at times.

And right now, at this very moment, someone reading this blog feels the same way. You’ve been praying for your marriage, begging God for help, wondering what’s taking so long or whether He’s even listening at all. You feel so close to the edge that you’re sure your marriage will tumble over the cliff and be impossible to restore.

I cannot make guarantees about what will happen for you, but looking back at my history — and hearing the histories of others — I am convinced that God wants to save your marriage. He wants to start with your soul, but He cares deeply about your covenant with your spouse.

When you call out to God in your distress, He hears your voice. And it moves His heart.

When you call out to God in your distress, He hears your voice. And it moves His heart. Click To Tweet

For many reasons, He wasn’t kowtowing to my schedule. But the biggest reason was that He had things to teach me.

Yes, I wanted the fix-it formula for improving our marriage, I wanted to know what kind of conversations between my husband and me would result in a breakthrough, and I wanted God to change my husband so that he would understand and meet my needs. But I wasn’t really listening to God and finding out what He wanted. I wasn’t willing to learn.

Now when I read that verse from Psalm 18:6, I read it in context of the whole psalm. And what David says in this passage reflects exactly what I experienced.

1. God didn’t swoop in before the trouble happened, but at the point when David worried that all was lost.

The cords of death entangled me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me (v. 4-5).

Why did God wait? I don’t know. But it does take especially large doses of trust to believe that God’s got this, even when you can’t see how it’s going to work out. If you use this opportunity right, you learn to rely even more on the only one who can truly save you.

2. As much as God wanted to defeat David’s enemies, He mostly wanted to take hold of David.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters (v. 16).

God cared about my marriage, but He wanted to start with me. I had my own set of issues I needed to work on, some that involved my husband and some that were just mine. If you aren’t working on yourself — letting God work on you — you’re not pursuing what He wants for your marriage. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You can’t have a healthy and happy marriage when one or both of you are profoundly unhealthy and/or unhappy. You have to let God take hold of you and draw you out of your deep waters.

3. God’s rescue was in line with David’s righteousness.

The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me (v. 20).

Truthfully, when my marriage was bad, I was getting back pretty much what I put out. While praying for peace and restoration, I displayed attitudes of arrogance, contentiousness, and contempt. My intentions were good and many of my ideas on how to improve our marriage were solid, but I paid little attention to how I communicated them and treated my husband. Before you expect God to show up and fix your problems, you’d better take stock, humble yourself, and work on those areas where you lack righteousness.

The number one thing that improved my marriage was living out biblical principles. God rescued me when I fell in line with what He’d already told me to do in his Word. That’s when dealing with me according to my righteousness became hope and healing for my marriage.

4. Once David was saved, He gave credit to God for the win and for keeping him safe.

You make your saving help my shield,
    and your right hand sustains me;
    your help has made me great (v. 35).

My husband and I still annoy each other and get into arguments sometimes, but our marriage is solid and happy. Did we have to work at it? Oh yeah. Roll-up-our-sleeves, sweat-on-our-brows work at times. But now that we’re here, I’m one hundred percent certain that we wouldn’t have made it but for God. His help made us great, and He sustains us. I pray you reach this point, understanding at an even deeper level the goodness of your Heavenly Father.

Sometime today or in the next week, I hope you’ll read all of Psalm 18. As you read, consider what promises are there and what you need to change to get in line with God’s plan for your marriage. He’s listening — now listen to Him.

Is Your Spouse Flawless?

A college girl died last week. Unexpectedly. Of natural causes.

I didn’t know her, but she hailed from my town and attended my older son’s university. So there was a lot of buzz about her death, and I knew several people with connections to this young lady. I looked up her obituary and was surprised to see that she had chosen a life verse — but not one you might expect from a single, college-aged woman. Rather, it was a verse I’ve cited many times before from the Song of Songs: “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you” (4:7).

Song of Songs 4:7How wonderful for this young believer to settle so quickly on the truth of her value in God’s eyes! For all those daughters out there worrying so much about their appearance or trying too hard to be like someone else, I pray that they can learn and accept that they are “altogether beautiful.

There is definitely this larger meaning, but the context of the verse itself is a husband speaking to his wife. After going through a long list of her physical attributes that the husband finds captivating (eyes, hair, teeth, lips, etc.), he concludes with that statement: “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

Look, I never saw his wife. We have no idea what she looked like. But I can pretty much guarantee she had a flaw. If nothing else, she had a mole in a weird place or one hair on her arm that grew longer than all the others or stubby toes that would never grace a pedicure ad. Because everyone has some flaw.

Yet her husband didn’t see any of that: He saw her as flawless.

Altogether beautiful.

His darling.

They say that love is blind. I don’t think that’s true, but it is rose-colored. That is, when you love someone so very much, you don’t see all their flaws. In your mind’s eye, your darling is altogether beautiful — flawless.

It’s the reason parents of “ugly babies” think their kids are the most precious things ever. It’s the reason we put our five-year-old’s terrible art on the refrigerator and beam with pride. It’s the reason teenagers overlook each other’s awkward stages and date anyway. It’s the reason you used to not mind so much when your husband — then boyfriend — wore that ratty Green Bay Packers T-shirt. It’s the reason you didn’t think anyone could possibly be more handsome than your groom standing at the altar and waiting for you to walk down the aisle.

Somehow, we seem to think it’s “growing up” or “getting realistic” to lose that lens. But I don’t think so. I think this verse shows what God intended — that as we deepen our love, we should become even more starstruck by our beloved’s beauty.

Maybe it becomes more of a choice we make: to overlook our spouse’s flaws, to focus on their amazing attributes, to remember that we have a special bond (my darling) that colors how we see one another.

What if you memorized this scripture and said it about your husband? Or wife? What if you practiced it in your mind? Even said it aloud sometime? How might that encourage you toward an attitude of appreciation? Toward gratitude for the spouse you have?

Say it with me, and say it about your spouse: “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” See your husband the way love sees him.

And believe he sees that in you too.

♥   ♥   ♥

READERS, CHECK OUT MY BIG NOVEMBER GIVEAWAY! JUST CLICK THE BANNER BELOW. DETAILS ARE AT THE END OF THE POST.

november-giveaway

Stop Competing & Envying (and a Bit of a Rant)

Saturday is the day I share a Bible verse passage that we can apply to our marriages. I’ve been encouraging y’all, as well as myself, to memorize more scripture and apply it to our daily lives.

Today, I have a scripture to share for your marriage, but it’s also part of a plea I want to make to my commenters. Here it goes:

“Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:26, NRSV).

Stop Competing & Envying: Galatians 5:26

Merriam-Webster defines conceited as “having or showing an excessively high opinion of oneself.” And let’s face it, we’re all prone to being self-centered. We see our day, our community, our universe in terms of how everything affects us.

We also see our marriages in terms of how we’re getting our own needs met. It’s our set-point that we have to reach beyond, learning how to love as Christ did — with a humble, other-focused, sacrificial love.

That’s not to say we let ourselves be doormats. By no means! But we should look at our marriages in terms of how we are doing, not just me.

We should look at our marriages in terms of how we are doing, not just me. Click To Tweet

Yet I see so many spouses doing what this scripture says not to do: competing against each other and envying one another. How? We constantly complain that we are the ones being mistreated in our marriage, that our spouse has it better than we do, that we are victims while they are villains.

I’ve done it in the past. I have years of prior marital unhappiness to demonstrate what a bad idea that is. At the height of my troubled marriage, I’d have said that I was the spouse who suffered the greater hardship. But now, with a clearer perspective, I recognize how deeply my husband was hurting. Back then, I discounted his pain because I was so focused on mine.

I wish I could do that over again. But I can’t. All I can do is remember what I’ve learned and share it with you: It doesn’t matter who has it worse. You’re one-flesh now, so if one of you is hurting, both of you are hurting.

You're one-flesh now, so if one of you is hurting, both of you are hurting. #marriage Click To Tweet

For example, if your spouse isn’t giving you the sex you should get, you’re missing what God desires you to have. But — whether they understand or not — your wife or husband is missing that too. If your spouse is watching porn, you’re being denied the exclusivity of sexual focus you should have in marriage. But your porn-addicted spouse is being injured as well. As a pastor I know often said, a self-inflicted wound still hurts.

People all around us are hurting, including our spouses, in ways we don’t understand. And one spouse being worse off, whoever it is, affects the whole. A good marriage isn’t preoccupied with being conceited, envying, or competing.

Nor should our lives reflect that attitude …

There have been several comments lately in which readers want to argue the point of my post by essentially saying, “Yeah, what you describe is bad, but isn’t my situation way, way worse?”

Honestly, it’s often not worse. And even if it is, how does it help you to compete against others and envy their presumably better situation? For the love of God, can I please get across how destructive this attitude can be! That way madness lies! (King Lear)

You can get so caught up justifying the comparisons, the competition, the envy that you waste precious time and effort that could be spent on changing what really matters. You could be working on yourself, becoming the person God wants you to be. You’re far more likely to see positive outcomes by moving away from selfishness and into humility, as modeled by Jesus Christ, and working on your own issues.

Truth is, I’ve gotten caught up with you, arguing a point far too long — back and forth, back and forth — in an effort to get through. Frankly, wasting time that could be better spent writing and speaking about godly sexual intimacy in marriage. This past week, God reminded me that is mission.

Thus, my Comments Policy might be getting an addition soon — something about how discussions of I have it bad … no, I have it worse … no, I have it way worse are fruitless and destructive. Because by allowing those conversations to continue ad infinitum, I feel like I’m enabling what this verse says not to do. When all our time would be better spent in prayer with God, in conversation with our spouse, or in flat-out fixing ourselves.

Yes, I know some of my readers have been through hell and back, and I do not take that lightly. I want this blog to be a place where we can share our real struggles and find compassion, encouragement, and answers. Such comments will be approved, and we can hopefully hammer out some ideas on how to help you where you are.

But those who want to set up imaginary scenarios, use bad statistics, or give a detailed account of their own woe-is-me moments so that they feel justified calling themselves victims, I don’t see the benefit of that. As we look across the world or across history, we always find someone who has it better. And someone who has it worse. The comparisons don’t change where we are or what we need to do to embrace a better life — the beauty God has stored for us.

Let’s stop competing and envying. Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus. And let’s pursue health, holiness, and happiness in our own lives and for those in our sphere of influence.

november-giveaway