In this episode of the Purposed Marriage podcast, we discuss how allowing ourselves to become offended by the behavior of our prodigal can lead to anger, bitterness and resentment.
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”Matthew 5:13 ESV
We are living through difficult and trying times. If the current situation we are experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic has done anything positive, perhaps one could say it has provided believers in Christ with a tremendous opportunity to show the world how and why we are different.
Turn on any news broadcast and you will see examples of panicked citizens from all over the globe letting their actions and decisions be ruled by emotions. Opportunists are attempting to exploit the situation to take advantage of the vulnerable, and even worse, some are using this ordeal as a means to push agendas and policies that at best are self serving, and at worst, downright evil. Regardless of your appraisal of the situation, you have to admit that no time in recent memory has there been a greater need for the body of Christ to set itself apart.
As it relates to the current situation with your prodigal, perhaps now is a chance for them to see a side of you that has been hidden. It could be the hurt and resentment built up as a result of their intentional acts of betrayal has overshadowed and prevented the grace and love, which flows from the Father, from also flowing from you.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35 ESV
The way we conduct ourselves in times both good and bad, shape the perceptions others have of us. If you have put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and have accepted Him as your personal savior, you have a witness and testimony that must never be forgotten. We are the physical hands and feet of our master while on this earth. God’s will is carried out by our actions each and every day. Either we submit and do as His word says, or we follow our own path, which likely will do little to advance the Kingdom. Your continued stand and increased show of love, grace and forgiveness, are kingdom building activities. Be constantly aware and mindful of this reality.
Call it what you will, but there exists in my heart a strong sense the Lord will be moving mightily in the hearts of many during these times. It certainly wouldn’t be without precedent. One can find countless examples from Scripture or throughout history where God brought about miraculous change, healing, and deliverance in the most desperate of circumstances. The stage has been set for similar events to occur. Are you ready, willing and able to take part? The world and our prodigals need our action. May we all look to Jesus as we seek to fulfill this mission.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.Psalm 16:5
For those in troubled marriages whose spouses have left or checked out emotionally, it’s easy to think of our situations in terms of what is lacking. While it is natural to desire and long for reconciliation and restoration, we need to be mindful of our tendencies to forget the abundance of grace and mercy poured out upon us each and every day.
Reflecting back on my time in the valley, I remember occasions I would give in to despair, or be overwhelmed by the stress and pain the fight for my marriage was causing me to endure. Being in a position now where I can look back and assess my past actions, it’s clear the times I found myself in the lowest emotional state, was when I was focusing on my situation, rather than my identity as a child of God. Back then, I often lacked perspective, and failed to see the broader picture. In reality, that short chapter of my life was an indescribably small segment, compared to the rest of eternity. It’s that same lack of perspective that compels many standers to lose hope for restoration, and instead turn to the fleeting and temporal happiness found elsewhere.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Mature believers in the Lord will understand the practical implications of this reality. For them, contentment in present circumstances is the norm. It is because of this right way of thinking, they are able to endure the hardships, persecution, and suffering that accompanies remaining faithful to marital vows after a partner has walked away. These standers have come to grips with the role God has assigned to them. Obedience and acceptance is the driver and motivator for all they say, do and think. Underlying all of that however, is the understanding that their lives belong to Christ, and that glorifying and growing His Kingdom remains their primary goal and purpose.
Do you find yourself constantly asking God for more? Are you struggling emotionally, and find yourself longing for companionship, and a restored fellowship with your prodigal spouse? If the answer is yes, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. While God has designed us to be relational beings, and has given us hearts and minds meant to connect on deep levels with one another, we need to be mindful not to let our emotions rule over us. Overactive emotions can oftentimes lead us to lose perspective, and act in ways that are not rational. If honest, many reading this will probably admit that being guided by over active emotions in the past, likely contributed to the fractured state of our marriages.
As believers, we need to come to the point when we say to ourselves, “Christ is enough”. In the book of Philippians, Paul tells us to be content, regardless of the circumstances. Practically speaking, this is to say “If the Lord restores my marriage, I will be content.” or “If the Lord delays the restoration of my marriage, I will be content.” It’s not a matter of where we find ourselves in the restoration process that should define our level of contentment. Rather, our state of mind should be characterized by satisfaction, peace and well-being. Remember, the outward expression of our inner heart condition is what the lost world sees displayed in front of their eyes. May our testimonies always reflect the reality of Christ’s abundant grace and goodness.
True, we should all continue to pray God’s will for our marriages, and that restoration occurs in the Lord’s perfect timing. Never cease in this endeavor. But as you make your petitions before the Lord, also ask for contentment. It is when we arrive at the point when we can say, “Christ is truly enough.” that God has us exactly where He wants us. It is in these moments, great and miraculous things can occur!