It is my experience that feelings like these are very common for both husbands and wives in marriages. I must admit, that I have had them many times early in my marriage; yes even with a wonderful wife like I have. It was easy for me to fall into the trap of self-pity. In my case, it started by focusing on me, all that I did and how I was not appreciated. From there I started looking for things to justify the way I felt. The next thing you know I had built a case in my mind about why my situation was “so horrible” and why it was not going to get better – consequently I thought, why should I even bother trying to continue?
The Bible calls this thought process “fretting”…and exhorts us NOT to do it. Both Psalms 37 and 73 discuss this and how to get out of this funk. Psalm 73:16-17 states:
"But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end."
I learned a process to deal with my “woe is me attitude.” Often this process only takes a couple of seconds but I found it really keeps my head on straight and keeps me focused on what truly matters.
My first step for me is to adjust my perspective by going to the Lord. I remind myself that, if God is for me, what really can be against me? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for me, how will He not also with Him graciously give me all that I need (paraphrase of Romans 8:31-32)?
My second step is to think about 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day-by-day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
After reflecting on this passage, I am now ready to obey, to bare my cross and suffer through it, to try harder and push on…often, unfortunately, I still continue to be miserable.
That leads me to my next step. I remind myself that my personal joy in life and in the Lord is NOT dependent on how I feel about my wife or what I perceive that she does or fails to do. I remind myself that God is much bigger than any of my current circumstances. Furthermore, if God’s grace is sufficient for people who have gone through such horrible tragedies in history with joy, how can I NOT go through comparatively minor things in my life with joy? It is embarrassingly silly. Romans 8:18 states, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Talk about my glass being half empty…however, it is worse than that. I am sitting there consumed in the moment about something which will not have much impact next week, much less in all of eternity. My glass is truly about to overflow, yet I am vehemently complaining because I feel a few more ounces of water could still fit in the glass. Yes, I have often been that detached and ungrateful[1] for all that God has done for me.
Hebrews 12:2 reminds me that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. The emphasis here is on the joy, yet too often I focus on the enduring. God, my perfect Father that loves me[2], offers me the abundant life[3] with the accompanying joy in the worst of circumstances, much less in the “light momentary afflictions” I currently have in my marriage and life. He promises the same for you to. I encourage you to seek it in Him.
For further study on having joy ever present in your life, I encourage you to read the little book: The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper.
[1] Note: Ungratefulness is one of the defining characteristics of unbelievers in Scripture see: Luke 6:35, Romans 1:21, and 2 Timothy 3:2).
[2] Luke 11:10-12
[3] John 10:10

by Michael Burner

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