How can we better respond to difficult marriage situations?
Last week I wrote a post titled “When Marriage Problems Just Don’t Make Sense” and invited you to send in prayer requests. (You can still do that by responding to this email if you are an email subscriber, or using my contact form)
In the course of the week, I came across a teaching from Ezekiel 37 and the sermon inspired me to continue building on what I shared last week.
So the question is, “what can I do when I do not have answers to challenges?’
Ezekiel 37 is a long passage, but I will share most of it for the sake of context and insight.
The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. 2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3 Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”
4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.
Some of the needs that came in last week and some comments left on older blogger posts left me feeling like Ezekiel; looking at complex situations and praying “God you only can fix this.”
I just want to highlight a few verses and hope it uplifts, whatever you are facing today, small or great.
When you’re confronted with a “dead” situation, please remember
1. Some situations are God’s orchestration, not yours (quit blaming yourself)
Verse 1 says “The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones.”
Ezekiel did not take himself into the valley of dead bones, the Spirit of God did. In fact, the Bible says the spirit gave Ezekiel an extensive tour of the valley. (“He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor”)
It’s like Ezekiel had to understand just how dead the bones were. It wasn’t a casual call; it was an in-depth encounter.
Some of the problems I was praying about last week were very much not the fault of the wife. Some of the things you are going through today might not be your fault.
Of course all challenges present opportunities to learn something. But we can only draw lessons once we take on the right perspective.
I don’t know your particular situation; it might be marriage related or not. I just want you to remember that God in His divine wisdom and orchestration sometimes places us in difficult circumstances.
In her book “Rhinestone Jesus” Kristen Welch, founder of Mercy House Kenya says
Making Jesus enough is hard, sorrowful work. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t make a happy greeting card or inspire a cute saying on a mug. It won’t make you rich or popular. It doesn’t sell books or fill auditoriums. This is not the Christianity in America we hear from televangelists. It’s ugly and dirty work. It’s a gut-wrenching, soul-splitting journey, and it comes at a high cost. And yet when the doubts begin to creep in, His sovereignty reaches into our doubt and says “I AM. Everything else will fade because I am eternal.”
If you find yourself in a difficult God-appointment season today, remember that He who brought you to it, will take you through it and out of it
2. It’s okay not to have answers
I love Ezekiel’s response to God’s question. God asked him “Can these bones live?”
Ezekiel replied “I have no idea… but I bet You do” (my paraphrase of course)
I have a sneaky feeling Ezekiel that maybe didn’t think the dead bones could live. But instead of giving life to his guesses, he turned the question over to God.
So often we think we have to have all the answers. Like every little thing that happens to us, we must have the perfect explanation because we are Christians.
But clearly, we do not and cannot have life figured out. Because if we did, we would not need the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit.
If you are currently scratching your head about an issue and instead of leaning on your abilities or what you can see, turn the question back to God.
“God, I am done guessing and drawing conclusions about my husband; I have no idea what is going on with him.”
“I have no idea how to fix my finances, Lord. I tithe and give and do everything right, but I am still in the same tight corner I was in last year. I don’t know what to do.”
“I don’t know why I am still single. All my friends are snatched up before they are thirty. The single ones don’t seem to have a problem getting attention..some even have the luxury of choice! Me? Not even a speck of attention. Everyone, seems to think I am everything a godly man would want. So I am done trying to figure out why I am not married. If only to stop being so annoyed.”
Now, instead of ending our prayers at “I do not know”, we can proceed to “But I bet God does.”
“I don’t know what to do with my husband, but You are his creator and know him completely. Talk to me about him. And me.”
“I don’t know what’s going on with my money, but I want to believe you do since I am only a steward of Your resources.”
“I have no idea why I am still single but I am going to stop looking within to find the answer. I am going to look up to You and believe there’s a higher purpose to my life and this season.”
3. God has the answers
Verse 4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say….
After Ezekiel had turned the question back to God, God responded with a command.
I don’t know about you, but I sure I’m glad God speaks. And He is good.
It is not easy to admit we don’t have answers. And maybe that is why the spirit of God has to bring us to very dead places, just so we understand how utterly dry and powerless we are. And how incredibly big God is.
God did not reprimand Ezekiel for not having the “right” answer. He simply told him what to do.
Nonetheless, God’s response to our questions often demands faith. After Ezekiel turned the question back to God, God responded by giving him a detailed list of things to say.
Maybe Ezekiel was thinking “Seriously, I have to say these words to these dead bones? Perhaps you could say the words instead of me? You know, cos you are God and I am not? The bones are more likely to listen to an all-powerful Being, as opposed to mere man”
At least some of us would think that way. “If God wants something done in my life, He will get it done”
So we play the “wait and see” game. We wait for situations to change before we obey God. We expect our husbands to show signs of change before we believe they can change (don’t leave the dirty shoes on the carpet, and I’ll believe you care about me).
We wait to have money in the bank before we accept God is our provider. We expect God to bless us with a boyfriend as a sign He values and cherishes us.
D. L. Moody said, “Faith takes God without any “ifs”.
To prophesy is to “to reveal or foretell something, especially a future event by divine inspiration “to make inspired declarations of what is to come.” (Dictionary.com)
Prophecy is simply repeating what God is saying; being his mouthpiece here on earth, so to speak. But declaring God’s word and will over your life, especially when the word feels out of touch with your reality, requires faith.
The good thing is, you don’t need great faith; you only need a speck of faith. Like Ezekiel’s “I don’t know. You know” faith.
“Maybe” faith, the kind that takes action without feelings is still faith. (Read this post)
4. Obedience yields results
V7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley.
I read somewhere “don’t ask God for more instructions if you have not obeyed the last thing He told you.”
Friend, it’s not enough to hear from God, we have to follow. Some of us don’t move because we are not sure if we are hearing from God.
May I suggest something that can bring more clarity and peace? Prayer and fasting. Simply set aside some time, to quieten your flesh and strengthen your spirit so you can hear more clearly. Check out this prayer and fasting resource by Kaylene Yoder
I am praying for you, your marriage, your life. May God’s peace guide you as you seek to live fully for Him.
A few things
- Bridal Tips Survey
Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to my Bridal Tips Survey! I am so grateful and blown away by your honest and heartfelt advice for brides-to-be! I would like to use some of the results verbatim. Still completely anonymous of course, slightly edited and any identifying information removed – like honeymoon destination and such. If you would like me not to use your comments verbatim in the book, please let me know and I will omit your comments. (Simply respond to this email)
- Survey Giveaway! (2 books!)
I ran into a small problem while running the giveaway. As mentioned, the poll was completely anonymous. Unfortunately, I should have turned on the email tracking option or used their native emailing system to identify the forty-eight wives who took the survey.
Hundreds opened the email, and I can see all that, but I cannot identify who actually took the questionnaire. I am so sorry about that! Here’s what I am going to do;
Instead of giving away one copy of my book Blues to Bliss (Kindle version), I will now give away two copies! And we are going to use the honor system! Simply let me know you took the survey and I’ll pick two winners from the first ten – or whatever # – emails I receive. I am so sorry for the mix-up!
- Marriage conference
Fund-raising is still ongoing! If you would like to read out story, help spread the word, partner financially – please click here
- My book
You can always purchase a copy of my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After In the early years! It makes the perfect gift for bridal shower, yourself or a girlfriend. Click here for more information about the book and to find the purchase links.
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Linking with Messy Marriage