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.
I 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.