Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) When Joshua fought his enemies (Joshua 6-12) to obtain and remain (stand firm) in the Promised Land (the land already given to them by the Lord), the Lord repeatedly told Joshua not to be afraid or discouraged. The Lord had given them the land, and despite disobedience and sin among God’s chosen people, the Lord continued to encourage and empower Joshua to stand firm.
This sort of conflict happens in marriage. My sins, the sins of my spouse, or lies from the past creep up and create battles between us. If one of the lies I am operating out of is that” I am not worthy of love” or “I don’t matter,” what happens? When my husband, who is an introvert, is caught up in his introverted self and not paying attention to me or I think he is shutting me out, I might get hurt and lash out at him for ignoring me or making me feel unworthy and unlovable. Yet he is just being a typical (if somewhat selfish) introvert.
So what I’m really just beating him up for is being who God made him to be. He, in turn, might feel like nothing he does is good enough for me, so he just says, “what’s the use?” and backs even further into his shell. Then I feel more ignored and more unworthy, so I pout or yell to try to get his attention, and the vicious cycle continues with no end or resolution in sight. Whew! Sound familiar? How do you get out of this trap? How do you stop this same ol’ battle? Joshua has more to teach us.
As Joshua cried out to the Lord and asked for help (a good reminder: who do you first ask for help? Your best friend, Mom or Dad, a mentor or a self-help book? Or do you first cry out to God?), the Lord instructed him on how to handle the battle. There were different methods for different battles. The Lord had the strategy and knew how to fight the battles for them (so important to remember: God has the battle plan), but it was Joshua and the Israelites’ job to stay in the battle. Here, then, were their marching orders:
- Stand firm.
- Seek His face and cry out for help.
- Get instructions.
- Walk in obedience.
God used the battles for the Promised Land to expose sin and transform the Israelites into obedient and trusting followers. The same could be said for the conflicts in our marriages. God’s Kingdom agenda for our battles is to refine and shape us more and more into Christlikeness. To continue from the example above, if I take my feelings of unworthiness or not feeling lovable to Christ, instead of giving Him a laundry list of complaints about my husband (okay, sometimes I need to do that first, so He can deal with my heart), then He can tell me the truth about my husband and myself.
He can whisper into my heart, “Angel, your worthiness comes from being My daughter, and you are lovable because I say you are lovable.” Then He can tell me truth about my husband, “Angel, he is really distracted right now about work; give him some grace. You know he isn’t deliberately ignoring you.” Or He might say, “Tell him the truth in love, Angel. Gently let him know that you feel ignored and need some attention or assurance.”
Then I can be a respectful wife whose roots go down deep into God’s marvelous love for me, and I don’t have to demand things from my husband or cause a fight that doesn’t need to happen. More of Christ (Christlikeness) gets released in me, then through me to my husband and into my marriage. As this happens, his response is more likely to be Christ-like and even if it is not, peace reigns in me and is released into my marriage. Remember, the outcome is His! Like Joshua, our job is to not to give into fear or discouragement. Stand firm. When peace reigns, we win!
About the Author: Angel H. Davis is not just a veteran marriage and family counselor who has seen God’s healing grace at work in those she’s counseled. She has been through a purging, rejuvenating storm in her own marriage and has survived to tell of the joy that comes in the morning. Strikingly personal and empathetic, Angel’s book, The Perfecting Storm, offers guidelines for personal and marriage growth and demonstrates how remarkably God can change two people even if only one devotes him- or herself to doing marriage God’s way. Her book will help you discern the real enemy of your soul, how to change your marriage, and the way current trials set you up for future fulfillment. According to Angel, most marriages are neither a complete disaster nor “made in heaven.” They face tribulation that can tempt anyone at one time or another to jump ship, yet that is almost never the right course. So since you’re likely in a marriage that’s among the majority, this book is almost certainly for you, no matter what storm may be blowing through your married life.