"Help him and I'll help you", are the words I felt the Lord speak to me in my time of desperate need. At that time the Lord didn't choose to come to my aid but gave me a choice to put someone else's need first. It's not an easy place to be when you feel like you're drowning, and no one is willing to help you. Somehow deep within my heart, the Lord was already working to bring me to that place where I was able to say, "Yes Lord" and trust Him with the outcome not knowing what lied ahead. At times we walk through life suffering in silence. You struggle with a situation and afraid to share it with anyone or have no one to share it with. Who do you turn to or where do you go for help?
For many, marriage is that struggle. Since the day we got married and for many years to come I've experienced painful times as a wife. It's not a path I would have chosen for myself and if I knew what lied ahead, I would have run the other way. There was a point when I did give up on my marriage but realized it's not what I wanted. I decided to hand over my marriage to God and commit myself to doing it His way. That was a difficult thing to do. It was literally a dying to myself, a dying of my need for love, acceptance and security. One thing I saw in my walk with the Lord through marriage was He had to work "humble acceptance" in my heart. To humbly accept what God called me to do through the painful times to bring about change. I had to learn to say "yes" to those things which put my husband's needs first before my own. Now you may think that's not so bad, but when you feel like you're not well-treated it feels unjust to do such a thing. As much as I wanted to run away from my pain, I had to learn how to turn to God who was the solution to my pain.
God took me on a journey of who He is and what He can do. He began to teach me how to handle situations that would arise. First, He taught me to draw closer to Him through reading His Word and holding onto His promises during these difficult times. He also placed books in my path to help me grow as a woman and wife. It all started with me. I had to allow God to work in my own heart first and trust Him with John. Second, pray about everything. How did the Lord want me to handle these situations? What to say, what to do. Should I approach John about it and if I do, when and how. Third, was to learn to trust in the Lord despite what I saw or heard. That was the most difficult step, because it took faith to believe when it seemed hopeless. On top of it all, I was raising three kids and dealing with the different stages of their lives. It took every bit of strength in me to keep persevering during this period of suffering in silence, but through it all God became so real to me. Though I might not have had my hubby by my side through these challenging times, I had the Lord. He became my everything. The one I would turn to in my time of need. Even though I didn't feel Him physically, I knew deep within He was with me, because His Word says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” [Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV] I held onto this truth despite how I felt or what happened. God doesn't explain why we go through pain, but He encourages us through the pain with His Word.
During those years, I have felt God's comfort and direction. He began to show me what true love was, and I began to receive it from Him which brought me security and acceptance. For us, it was a slow process of change, forgiveness and healing. We had to work through a lot of issues. Through it all He used those moments to make us aware of certain issues, admit our need for help and adjust our hearts for change. That day when I heard the Lord say help him and I'll help you, became one of the greatest days in our marriage, because it changed the direction of it. I had to surrender the fear of being hurt and learn to trust John through trusting the Lord. Little by little I saw changes in him that I never saw before. That could have only been God working in our situation. It's hard to believe change is possible, but it is through doing it God's way. Only John and I know what we've walk through in our marriage, but where we were is not where we are today. The man I married 30 years ago is not the same man today. We all have difficulties in marriage. It's not easy to humbly accept what God calls you to do for your spouse when your feel your needs aren't being met, but when you're secured in God's love, it strengthens you to be able to face those difficult choices. Are you going to let the difficulties rule you or let God lead you through the difficulties?
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
[Psalm 46:1 NIV]