THE CRUCIBLE OF SUFFERING: WHEN YOUR MARRIAGE DOES NOT CHANGE
“But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
(1 Corinthians 1:23-25)
Warning – This devotion is not for a spouse in an abusive marriage. If your marriage is abusive, find help immediately to stop the abuse.
It is important to accurately recognize how God is working in you during times of suffering. Many times individuals see their trials as something happening to them, rather than something God is doing in them.
Acknowledging that God is doing something in you is more than a courtesy nod. It is sobering. For God to take an interest to help any of us is both humbling and frightening. (See Job 23:15)
Many times, in suffering, it’s easy to focus on the wrong question. You can be more concerned about whether God is safe than whether He is good. Sometimes your genuine desire and expectation for self-protection can trump the Lord’s good work in your life (Romans 8:28). The cross of Christ is the most profound testimony of the safe/good dynamic. The Jew saw the cross as a stumbling block, while the Greek saw the cross as foolishness. From God’s perspective, the cross was wisdom and power.
There are times in your life when what is best for you is not necessarily the safest path for you. In those moments, you must understand and believe that God is good and He is working good in you. Like the baker kneading the dough, your great God is working His transcendent purposes into you by making you a vessel fit for His aims (2 Corinthians 4:7).
While in the crucible of suffering, remember to make copious mental notes of what He is doing in you. Remember the pain. Embrace the suffering. By embracing the agony, you are embracing the God who is working the agony into your life. Though Christ wanted His Father to take away the cup, ultimately He embraced the Father’s work in His life when He said, ”Not my will, but Your will be done.“ (See Luke 22:42)
Jesus submitted to His Father, even though it meant He would die. He believed in the good purposes of the Father (Hebrews 12:2). When you stop resisting your Father’s work in your life and start believing in Him, there is hope for change in you. However, to accept the crucible of suffering does not mean your adversity will pass. It only means you are going to trust the steady hand of God, who is working for your good, regardless of the consequences.
Believing in God does not mean things will turn out the way you had hoped. Christ embraced the will of the Father, which led to His crucifixion. Joseph embraced God’s will and his life involved one disappointment after another. Job said, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.” (See Job 13:15) Paul believed God and was beheaded. Peter followed his Savior to his own crucifixion.
Believing in God, during your time of adversity, is a desire to know and follow God regardless of where the path may lead. But you can be assured of this one thing: God is good, and though you may not know the outcome of His good work in your life, rest assured that you will be more than satisfied by relinquishing your rights to Him.
What are you learning about yourself through your marital challenges?
If you are not able to talk to your spouse about these things, find someone of the same gender who is willing to walk with you during your time in the crucible.