There are so many adjectives I’m often tempted to place at the end of that sentence. How about the rest of you wives? Let’s be honest, the words we may pick run the gamut of our emotions and they may change minute by minute depending on what our husband has said or done (or not said or done). Sometimes it feels like a rollercoaster of a relationship…but that’s not the way God desires it. So, today, I want to help you fill in that blank the right way and in permanent marker.
This blog will post on Phil’s and my 15th wedding anniversary. This may seem like pocket change to many (including my parents and in-laws who will each be celebrating 49 years of marriage this year!). But, for Phil and me this feels fairly monumental. You see, we really didn't enjoy those first several years of marriage (nope, no honeymoon phase for us). We struggled.
So, to all you wives who would like to fill in that blank with some not-so-nice words, I’m here to tell you I’ve been there. I still get caught there at times. But there is a better way and it brings great hope. Not just “suck-it-up-buttercup” type hope (though there is a good dose of that now and then); I’m talking about real hope for a marriage with joy, peace…and kind words.
Several years ago, Phil and I went to a Christian marriage retreat hoping to improve our relationship. Before posing the fill-in-the-blank question above, they had us do this one: “My husband/wife is not _________.” We were told to fill in the blank with "my enemy". In my notes I wrote, "My husband is not my enemy." Phil enjoyed that little nugget for a few years. I would grumble at him for making some mess and he would throw up his arms and say, "Hey, I'm not the enemy here!" Thank you, Weekend to Remember.
After assuring us that our spouse was not on the opposite side of the battle lines (we have one true enemy and that is Satan), they continued on and told us to fill in the next blank with "gift from God". So I wrote, "My husband is a gift from God." I kind of gagged on that one. All I could picture was Phil with a big bow on his head and a cheesy smile on his face. Half of me wanted to laugh and the other half wanted to frantically look for a gift receipt.
Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the point they were making. But “gift” wasn’t doing it for me. I do find many verses in the Bible that support wives as being gifts (Gen. 2:18-22, Prov. 12:4, 18:22, 31:10), but husbands are not spoken of in the same way.
What I do find often is God assigning a portion to us (our lot) and being assured that it is for our good and his glory. For example, Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:17, after talking about the principles of marriage says this, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” If you are married, your husband is part of the life that God has assigned to you. This is a divine assignment and a calling from the Lord. It is not something that should be shrugged off or taken casually, we are not to leave our husbands (Matt. 19:6, 1 Cor. 7:10).
In addition, Psalm 16:5 states, “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” Verse 2, same chapter reads, “I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” In simple words, what we are given in life comes from God and everything that comes from God is good (for those who are his, see Rom. 8:28). With God we have good, without God we have misery. If God desires that we stay in our marriages (and he does), then that is where the “good” will be found for us. It is that simple.
Wives, God chose your exact husband just for you. He is precisely what you need to make you more like Christ. He is one of the primary instruments in your life used for your sanctification. This is a great blessing! No, it doesn’t always feel like one. The process of cutting away sin is never comfortable, but it is always worth it. God uses your husband to teach you how to love other sinners and how to give grace to those who hurt you. God uses him to teach you how to exercise patience and self-control.
Your husband and you were put together in order that God’s glory would be multiplied through your relationship. There is no greater honor than this. Here is where your hope and purpose is found. This is why peace, joy and kindness can be found between two sinners.
So are you ready for what I like to write in that blank? Here it is: “My husband is a divine assignment from God for my good and God’s glory alone.” Okay, so it’s a little long, but it provides some clarity. Is it just a fancy way of saying that my husband is a gift from God? Maybe, but I still like it better (and it keeps the gag reflex in check).
Ladies, I encourage you to live out your God-ordained destiny in your marriage.
I see you. I see you coming in right as service starts. I see you sitting at the end of the row of chairs or towards the back, keeping your distance, staying wary. I see the hesitation of starting up conversations with those nearby. I see you… and I get it… but stop.
Stop thinking you are incomplete without a spouse next to you. Stop waiting for a human to fill some imagined gap that doesn’t exist. Stop thinking you are less beautiful to God than those around you. Stop.
This is your reminder today that if you are a single woman who has Christ as your savior, you are complete. Completely complete, lacking nothing. You are fully equipped to do the work God is calling you to right now at this moment. You are fully a part of the body of Christ and need to act as such. You are needed and you are extraordinarily valuable! Those of you with non-believing husbands listen up too, much of this will apply to you as well.
When God says through Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:17, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him,” there is no asterisk. There is no note at the bottom of the page saying that this applies only to the happily married and that singles (or the unequally yoked in marriage) should just hold back and wait. No, this verse tells us that the life you lead currently has been assigned to you by your masterful and purposeful Creator and you need to get to it. Your life is your calling from God.
The married are in no position of advantage when it comes to godly living. In this same chapter, 1 Corinthians 7:28, Paul encourages those who are able to stay unmarried to do so because, “those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” Paul’s clearly states his purpose for this in verse 35, “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” That is what all of us need to long for - undivided devotion to the Lord. Those who are single are in an especially good position to do this. Our God is a jealous God and he wants (and fully deserves) your complete attention and praise.
When seen in this light, this feels like a humbling and huge compliment from the Lord toward single women! He has decided not to share his attention from you with any man on earth. Think of the widow Anna, a prophetess who was there when Jesus came to be presented at the temple. She had full devotion to the Lord as she, “did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” Also think of Martha and Mary, single sisters who were close to Jesus and whose lives were interwoven into the gospels. They were witnesses to many of Christ’s greatest miracles and most awesome teachings.
Do not get being unmarried (or married to a non-believing husband) confused with being alone, I got that one wrong for years (see my blogs on loneliness). It wasn’t until I grasped that Christ completes me fully and not just partially that I was able to have my thinking corrected. Then I began to serve the Lord whole-heartedly. No longer waiting on a man to fill a gap that was never really there. I held onto the promise in Isaiah 54:5, “For your Maker is your husband.” He was the only one for me all along and he still is. He is the only one who makes me whole even while being married.
Single women, I want you to see your singlehood as a wise and gracious gift from the One who loves you most. That is exactly what it is, so take the time to praise him for it today. Don’t allow the enemy to tempt you into feelings that are contrary to this. Beautifully serve the Lord in the life he has called you to at this time. Women married to an unsaved spouse, pray earnestly for your husband to be redeemed by Christ, but don’t hold off on fully serving God and fulfilling your calling until he does, serve him now with all of your heart.
At the beginning of this blog I told you to stop…now I want you to start. Start to sit by me. Start to engage in the family that God has placed you in for your nourishment and to nourish those around you. Start to share your wisdom of God’s word with others who are desperate for it. Reach out for godly counsel when you need it. Start to participate in the lives of other women who are longing for friendship and a woman to talk with. Encourage, teach, help, serve, love, share. And in all these things praise God for making you completely his.