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)
The Bible speaks of the “hard sayings” of Christ. This, I believe, is one of the hardest things I can embrace. I, too, want my way and I crave the security that can ONLY come from God. Only He will not sin against me! Why do I expect Benny to be sinless? Because I love ease and comfort sometimes more than growth in godliness. Thank you for this very challenging reminder.
You’re welcome. It’s nice to have others in the same place to offer encouragement to stay the course. You are that friend to me!
Love you dearly,
I read the article with a lot of difficulty but inside me, i know it is all true. It really timley for me. By now, i’m not sure when or whether my husband will change-only God Knows!, because i have been waiting for it for nearly 9 years now. In the 15th year of marriage (2013) He brings in another woman, let alone the one who sent our marriage to great rocks in the last 2-3 years. Coupled with locking me out of the house! Now i’m beginning a life of married single woman!!!!Just starting to recollect my self!!! With all that pain, i need to seek to become thankful for God’s ability to use my husbands failures and weaknesses to further my transformation? Will he give me the grace? Yes he will, again deep down me, i believe i will stand through it all with Gods Grace! Will i stop feeling the pain? Yes i will, by the grace of God. Thank you for the post, that is just for me this time!!
I have no doubt that God will help you as you walk this very difficult and painful road. Your humility and teachable heart bring such glory to God and it’s inspired me to lift you up before the Lord for the help and hope that only He can provide. The Bible says that God is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. I pray you will feel His arms holding and comforting you during this season of your marriage. I also pray that God will open your husband’s eyes to see that his ways are harmful to you and your marriage and bring about restoration and health to your relationship.
May you feel God’s comfort.
I have not been reading many of your posts lately, as I’m in a difficult spot in my marriage right now, and I’ve been doing some “avoiding”! Something led me to read this one, though (well.. someONE — God!), and I’m so glad I did.
I have found it helpful for me to pray that God help me be the kind of wife that my husband needs right now. Not the self-righteous person who points fingers and assess blame, but exactly who GOD knows that he needs, from one moment to the next. This is hard … because I can’t react on “gut-level”. I must make myself stop, listen — first to him, then to Him … and slowly pick my way forward. It is tedious work, but my marriage is worth it!
Oh Anna, I’m so glad to hear how God is helping you find your way in the difficult place. You’re right, it is “tedious work” because we are sinners too. Having been through similar seasons may I encourage you to not give up? I have found that the time on the other side of this hardship is so much better than where I was before the trouble began.
I will pray for you and your marriage that God will bring you to a place of peace in His timing.
Thank you for taking the time to share your heart with me. I know it’s humbling, but God promises to give grace to the humble. And you’re not alone! All marriages face such difficulty.
I’m going to stay on this topic for awhile, so it should be safe to come read with discouraging you.
So, whenever the faults of your husband shows up, there are opportunities for you to fulfill your scriptural duty; not simply to fuss and cuss about how messed up he is, but to analyze the kind of helper God has called you to be. In fact, if you are the complete opposite of your husband, wonderful! That means you can fill in all the blank spots where he needs help. That’s not an opportunity for disgust, but an opportunity for godly assistance. You are the one to help mold and shape him into the man that God ultimately wants him to be in order to carry out the agenda of the household.
You are so right–we “can fill in all the blank spots where he needs help.” So many husbands see this as weakness on their part as do their wives. Instead it’s exactly what God intended for marriage to be–two sinners helping each other grown and change in a way that would never happen had they lived alone.
Your comment went into our spam folder for some reason. So glad I found it for you make an excellent point!
Thanks Debi for the reply and your prayers, i feel lifted up. With Gods grace, i purpose to remain a married woman with an absent husband, thanking God in everything, His will be done.
You’re so welcome. This is one of the reasons we do what we do–to encourage and come alongside those who are hurting in their marriage. Thank you for being a part of our Vineyard community.