Tag Archives: suffering

Marriage: It’s Not a Competition

I talked my sister-from-another-mister Chrissy into sharing some wisdom on the blog today while I’m on vacation! God bless you sis for putting it out there for us! I love her teachable heart – we can all learn something from this post. Give her some social media love and check out her blog about being a merchant marine wife!
I’m not a competitive person by nature but I’ve found myself competing with my husband. It started after I gave birth to our oldest daughter. I would get angry anytime he would call and complain that he was tired or worked hard that day.

“He has no clue!”
“At least he gets to sleep in peace every night!”
“How dare he call and dump all of his problems on me…he clearly has no idea how worn out I am!”

When we had our second child it only got worse. I became more bitter. I found myself angry at him but yearning to connect with him at the same time.

Marriage is not a competition
Thankfully God gave me some gentle nudging toward how selfish and wrong I was! I took a year long course called Biblical Womanhood this past year and my biggest takeaway was that my husband and I were created differently with different roles in mind.

Nurturing is in my DNA. I don’t have to try very hard to love my kids. It comes naturally. Those daily tasks I want to complain about so much… the middle of the night nursing, the endless laundry, the toddler tantrums, the same bedtime routine every night, the exhaustion… it’s just part of the package. In truth, my dream package. I’ve never had more fulfilling work than being a mother. Yes, it’s work, but it comes with a deep satisfaction.

Now my husband on the other hand. He has this huge weight of being the only provider for our family. Our entire livelihood hangs on his decisions every day. One wrong move or bad call and he will probably end up without a job (best case scenario) in jail or even dead. He sometimes works 24 hour days on a steel deck in blizzards and 15 ft seas. He goes without eating or sleeping if the job requires it. He is away from his entire support system for weeks at a time.

So when he calls to unload or tell me how tired he is, why am I angry?! Don’t I want to be that person for him? Would I rather he call someone else to vent about his day?

Instead of competing with my husband for who had the hardest day, who got the least amount of sleep, who works harder/longer. I want to help him up. I want to appreciate what he does for us. He showers me with appreciation. I get messages like this all day long:

“I don’t know how you do it. You’re amazing! Our girls are so lucky to have you!”
“I’m praying for you babe! I hope you get some good sleep tonight.”
“How was your night? I have a long day ahead but I will call as soon as I can!”

And he does.

So when that call comes, I want to love him, encourage him, respect him. I want to listen to what he went through. I still share my struggles but it looks less like a competition and more like two best friends catching up.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Chrissy DoucetChrissy is a Stay-at-Home mom of two and wife to Merchant Marine. She sporadically updates her blog with posts on family life, healthy living, fitness and the occasional recipe.

Fighting the Comfort Idol

Part of the reason I chose my word of the year last year had to do with fighting my idolization of comfort.

I love to just be my old self. The fleshly self.

I have always been a very negative person. When I’m just seeking my own comfort, I can see it staring at me through a wall of frowns and pessimism.

My poor husband sees it the most because around him, I don’t have to hide it.

Last week, I was sitting in my chair, about to open my Bible. The day before, I had decided to start reading 2 Corinthians because of its theme on suffering (and I thought I might need to hold onto that amid our adoption!)

Instead of opening my Bible first, which is what I usually do, I prayed first. I prayed for deliverance from the gigantic black hole that is my emotions sometimes. I asked for God’s power to fight my comfort idol, to be really satisfied in Him – and GRATEFUL!

Then, I opened up to 2 Corinthians 1…. where I was blown away by a treatise on comfort! Oh God your faithfulness astounds me!

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1: 3-7, ESV)

Y’all. I just don’t have the words. I want to memorize this:

 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (v. 5)

I really have nothing else to say. I think He said it all.

When Submission is a Trial

When Submission is a Trial

Brad and I are still reading the book Marriage Matters*. I’m in chapter 5, at a pace of about a chapter a week. I told you reading non-fiction is like a marathon for me! Anywho, so far, the book has had a lot of theological truths about God that make easy translations to marriage.

I say “easy” – what I mean is – “easy” to understand. Putting them into practice? I’ll let you decide how that usually goes. 😉

Smith, the author, pointed me to an insight I never noticed before.

In 1 Peter 3, Peter writes

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.  (1 Peter 3:1-2, NIV)

I have read these verses (the commands to wives continues through verse 6) many times before, but I never bothered to ask what Peter was talking about when he said, “in the same way”.

Well – this is an important question! If I’m supposed to submit myself to my husband, I want to know in what way that is! I surely don’t want to follow what submission means to the world or myself or even my church.

What does submission mean to God?

Peter is talking about submission in various relationships: to authorities, to masters, and then wives to husbands. Directly before he writes about submission, he calls us to live out our identity as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” and this has the purpose of praising God and pointing non-believers to Him (1 Peter 2:9-12).

Conclusion 1: Submission to God’s appointed leaders (including our husbands) is an act of praise that reflects Him to the lost.

OK, that one really does wow me. But hang on for the next one!

When speaking to slaves, Peter tells them to submit themselves to their masters even “to those who are harsh” (v. 18). Why? He says suffering under leadership identifies us with the suffering of Jesus  – the very suffering that saves us.

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 3:20-21, NIV, emphasis mine)

This idea precedes the sentence “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands…”

Conclusion 2:  Submission is sometimes a trial of suffering, but we are still called to it, and this calling is an example to non-believers.

In other words, yes – submission may be difficult to the point of suffering! But because we are designed to compliment each other as head and helper, if we do submit to our husbands (and in this way, we are submitting to God as well), then our example can lead people to faith (2:12)!!!

What if your husband is not a believer? It is no accident that Peter says

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverance of your lives. (1 Peter 3:1-2, NIV)

Yes, learning to respect your husband in this way can lead to his very salvation!

Some of you may be thinking – well of course submitting is an act of suffering! But in the original design, it was not meant to be this way. Our husband’s headship and our helpership were designed as a perfect match – to work in harmony with each other to reproduce more people who love God. Our sin and the sin of our partners is what twists it into something that may bring a period of suffering.

When we are both submitting to God’s design, submission to our husbands is not an act of suffering at all! It’s a beautiful picture of how Christ loves His church.

In next week’s Wedded Wednesday, I hope to address some of the consequences that occur when we don’t submit. I’m praying for wisdom and insight beyond my years! And to actually apply these truths in my own marriage! I think my husband would appreciate that. 😉

This idea of suffering in submission is new to me! How about you? When did you first make this connection? How did that change your thoughts on submission?

The Weapon for Fighting Your Doubts

What happens when you trust God, are taking big risks for Him, and feel like you’re not seeing results?

This is something I’m struggling with right now. Even though I know that God’s plan and timing are perfect. And I should know, I’ve seen it played out over and over again in my own life. Even though I know that nothing is guaranteed and that a life of faith also brings certain sufferings and prejudices, I still want to see something happen with all that I feel I’m giving to God.

And when I read that last sentence, I feel pretty pathetic – because I know I’m not giving everything I have and everything I should. And I most certainly am not giving anything compared to true Christian martyrs.

What’s worse is I usually don’t struggle with insecurity in my faith. So why now?

Why do I know God’s will in my life, am following my husband’s leading in that will as he follows the Lord’s, and I still feel anxious? Anxious that no growth will occur?

I can think of at least two reasons.

1. Faith – I am lacking faith.

Certainly, we always have room to grow in the faith department, but I am at a place spiritually where I am not fully trusting God, and I want to trust myself instead.

And here’s the important thing to know: When our faith starts to shake, we have the greatest opportunity for it to grow. Here’s how I know:

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:2-8, NIV, emphasis mine)

2. The Enemy hates it when Christians stick their necks out for God.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8, NIV)

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NIV, emphasis mine)

And so I will fight this enemy and my lack of faith with God’s own Word, knowing that His word is true and good and perfect.

Photo by sardinelly

 

Positive Thinking is and isn’t Biblical

There has been some confusion in the last, oh let’s say, decade century millenia about what it means to be a Christian.

Most of this confusion has been brought on by our own fault, and I have certainly contributed to the lies myself. But I want to focus on one point of confusion in this post:

Positive Thinking.

More and more, I see people confusing the gospel of Christ, which is the whole crux of Christianity, with the false gospel of Positive Thinking.

Now, I have to admit, I haven’t read the bible of positive thinking. I don’t think there’s one person or book or organization who is creating positive thinking disciples. I think there are many.

Here are some of the false teachings of the church of positive thinking:

  • Our purpose in life is to be happy and feel fulfilled.
  • If you put positive thoughts out into “the universe,” positive things will come back to you (sort of a variation on the idea of karma).
  • By thinking positively and looking forward, your life will be better and your desires will be met. An example of this is the statement: Simply visualizing a certain success in your life will make it more attainable.
  • Physical riches, e.g., money, fame, success, beauty, are all signs that you have done well and reaped a reward.

 Instead, let’s see what the Bible has to say:

You will encounter suffering in this life (aka “Your life will not all be hunky dorey.”)

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials (James 1:2, NETBible, emphasis mine)

When. Not if.

The faith of those who suffer is strengthened and they are considered blessed (aka “Suffering doesn’t mean that God hates you or is punishing you.”)

[continued from the Scripture above]…because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:3, NETBible)

Think of how we regard as blessed those who have endured. (James 5:11a, NETBible, emphasis mine)

Suffering is a way to demonstrate the compassion and mercy of Christ to a broken and hurting world (aka “It’s not always about you.”)

[continued from the Scripture above] …You have heard of Job’s endurance and you have seen the Lord’s purpose, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:11b, NETBible)

Riches can make it difficult to have faith (aka “Be careful what you wish for…”)

Now the believer of humble means should take pride in his high position. But the rich person’s pride should be in his humiliation, because he will pass away like a wildflower in the meadow. For the sun rises with its heat and dries up the meadow; the petal of the flower falls off and its beauty is lost forever. So also the rich person in the midst of his pursuits will wither away. (James 1:9-11, NETBible)

In heaven, not only do we get to spend eternity with our Creator, but He also has prepared heavenly rewards for us (aka “This stuff is better than your 72″ app-enabled LED TV.”)

[Continued from the same Scripture above…] Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. (James 1:12, NETBible)

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:9, NIV)

But what about the here and now? (aka “OK, OK, can we be shallow for just a second?”)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:17-18, NIV, emphasis mine)

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

 Sounds a lot like positive thinking to me!!! Except that the “what we do not see” is not some univers-ical karmic something. He is the one Creator of the universe – the one worthy of faith and glory and all worship!

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:29-31, NIV, emphasis mine)

Is Good Friday Really Good?

It’s hard for me to think of this as “Good Friday.” Really? I’m supposed to think of the day that my Lord, the one and only 100% man/100% God, was tortured and killed as “good”?

Yes – because Good Friday (also called Holy Friday and Great Friday) is not just about Friday. It’s good because of the passion of Christ on Friday, followed by the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.

Soak in this today:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3, NIV)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—  and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-18, NIV)

“The radiance of God’s glory.” “The exact representation of his being.” Make no mistake about it, friends. Jesus is fully God.

“Fully human in every way.” Make no mistake about this, too. Jesus is fully man.

You see, when I picture it in my mind, Good Friday is about death. The death of Jesus. The passion of Jesus. But that’s a very limited and earthly view of Good Friday. As we see above, Good Friday is about “purification for sins”, “break[ing] the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil”, “free[ing] those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death”, and making “atonement for the sins of the people.”

We are, in our very essence, broken. Sinful. RebelliousSeparate from God.

And our deeds,  no matter how great, could never ever make up for our ruined hearts. That’s why Good Friday happened. Because the perfect lamb, the blameless God-Man was the only sacrifice worthy of acceptance by God.

Good Friday is because of me. And for me. And for you.

But it’s incomplete at Jesus’ death. After all, how powerful is a god who is dead? The resurrection shows us that our God conquers even death! That He reigns today!

We can only see Good Friday if we see Easter, the day we celebrate the resurrection of the God-Man, Jesus, who “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

The suffering, the passion, the death – the resurrection – all for me? It’s hard to concieve of love that deep! For it is only the kind of love that we can see from God Himself.

Praise you Lord – the RISEN KING!

By the way, if you struggle with believeing in the resurrection of Christ, The Resurgence posted a fantastic article on the validity of Christianity’s claim of a risen Jesus.