I am being freshly challenged by what it means to be a helper to my husband. It is a high calling and one that doesn’t come naturally to me. I am selfish and tend to go after what makes me happy, rather than purpose to do things to bless my husband. I am a work in progress!
Elyse Fitzpatrick has provided us a rich resource in her excellent book, Helper By Design. Today I want to share with you her thoughts on being thankful for our husband’s current struggle. That’s right, thankful!
Jesus, Friend of Sinners
Have you ever considered that God has placed you precisely in the marriage you’re in so that you might learn what it’s like to companion and help a fallen one? He wants us to be conformed to His image–He who was known as the one who ate with “tax collectors and sinners.” (Matthew 11:19 NKJV). Why not stop now and meditate on this blessed truth? (Helper By Design, pg. 51-52)
She goes on to lead us in this prayer:
Lord, You’re the only One who, because of Your purity, has a right to object to a relationship with sinners; and yet, Lord, You’re the One who stooped down to befriend me. Help me to remember that it’s into Your image that I’m being remade. (pg. 52)
God desires to use our husband’s failures to help us become more like Him.
He was willing to bridge the gap of our failures in order to bring us closer to God. When we love our husband in the midst of his failures, we are becoming more like Christ. We are helping him remember how much Christ loves him even though he doesn’t deserve it.
It sounds so simple as I’m typing this post, but I know from experience it’s anything but simple. When Tom fails to do something he said he would do, the last thing I’m thinking of is thanking God for this opportunity to be more like Him. No, I’m usually making a mental list of all the reasons I’m justified in being angry with Tom’s failure to meet my expectation. Ouch! Can you relate?
Think of your favorite TV sitcoms. Most of them represent the wife as all-wise and knowing and the husband as clueless. The wife has to hold a heavy hand over her husband in order to get him to do what she thinks he should. This is nothing less than manipulation, and it isn’t part of the helper role God has called us to.
It’s easy to find fault.
It’s easy to justify our self-righteous position thinking we’re better than our husband.
These two facts alone should clue us in that this isn’t the way God has called us to live. If it’s easy, then we can be sure there’s a good chance we’re feeding our selfishness, rather than our growth in godliness. Becoming more like Christ is a battle of wills–His will for ours!
Elyse goes on to say:
In light of that calling, rather than longing for the day that our husbands change (into our image), we should focus on and pursue our own change into Christ’s image. Instead of praying that your husband would change to please you, why not seek to become thankful for God’s ability to use even his failures and weaknesses to further your transformation? Of course, we are to pray for and patiently await his growth in holiness, but we must be vigilant to maintain a thankful heart all along the way. (pg. 52, emphasis mine)
Whoa! That’s hard, isn’t it? It’s one thing to be willing to overlook his offenses and failures, but to be thankful for them? That’s something entirely different! God has called us to a high calling, and for me that’s more than just a stretch–it’s a Herculean leap. Honestly, I would give up right now in despair if I didn’t trust that He will provide grace and strength for me to be my husband’s faithful friend. (pg. 53)
Marriage is hard work. It isn’t natural to be this kind of friend to my husband.
And God knew this was the case. He knew we would have to seek strength outside of ourselves to be a helper suitable to our sinful husband. He knew they would also need to seek the same strength to love and lead us. This is why He has bound Himself in covenant to us in marriage. We are not only two who have become one flesh–we are a triple braided cord that isn’t easily broken.
Elyse asks the following question, and I think it’s a great way to end this post. Ask yourself…
“Am I willing for God to make me thankful for my husband’s failures so that I can learn what it means to be like Christ–a friend of sinners?” (pg. 53)