(Last Fall I wrote this post about making the choice to love our spouse. With a little revision, I'm sharing this again since it's a topic that can be a great challenge yet is so crucial to any marriage.)
I want to share some Scriptures to encourage you. Claim one, some, or all of these in your heart and know that God is faithful, whatever path He calls us to walk. And please read to the end. I saved the best for last.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. —Romans 5:1-5
These verses start with our justification through faith. Then it speaks of the peace we have through Jesus, who we gained access to by that faith. This faith allows us to stand firm in Christ. Every bit of this screams Christ is the center of it all.
These Scriptures also help us understand that sufferings are and will be a part of our lives, but that we can rejoice in them. Why? Because we have a God who loves us and brings purpose to every part of our lives, even our trials and sufferings. Through them we learn perseverance, character, and most importantly, HOPE! How do we do this? What’s the key? Jesus is the key. We can persevere and have hope as we stand firm in Him.
We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance. — 2Thessalonians 3:4-6
Here we have an example that tells us that our hearts are to be defined by God’s love. Who we are, how we see others and ourselves, and how we love is all supposed to work within the confines of God’s amazing and unending love. That’s huge shift in perspective! That means we don’t have to love our spouses through our own capacity. God knows we can’t and he’s provided His Son to help us persevere. Again, all through Him!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. —James 1:2-4
These are some of my favorite Scriptures because they speak of God’s preparation in our lives. He doesn’t abandon us. I know sometimes it feels that way, but crying out to God in your times of despair is also an act of faith. And I know sometimes it can feel like God asks so much of us, asks us to sacrifice a lot for our unbelieving spouses, but remember that a soul is at stake. We have a high calling and God will equip us every step of the way.
So what’s my point in all this? Hang on, we’re almost there.
God is present. We are not alone. He is our strength and prepares us for whatever comes, for our good! And for the good of those he’s calling us to love unto Him. This never changes. What does change is our perspective. Are we operating only within our own strength and ability with our eyes focused on the problem? Or do we have our eyes turned upward as we stand firm in Christ with the understanding that God is our strength and our hope?
I’m a firm believer in the power of decision. We can be like the waves James speaks of that are blown and tossed by the wind because of their doubt. I believe this happens when we are indecisive as well.
What’s the first step to loving your spouse unconditionally? Choose to love. Don’t worry about the feelings. Those will come later. Make the choice to love your spouse and do whatever God asks you to do. Use the above Scriptures as reminders that God will strengthen and equip you for what’s ahead. Make the first step, then watch what God does.
This quote below from Goethe says it beautifully.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation). There is one elementary truth in ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Praying and believing,