It is pretty amazing what a range of emotions I’m capable of experiencing in a relatively brief space of time.
When I woke this morning I had a heavy feeling of sadness. The sadness that creeps out of my fear that the thing I’m hoping for will never come to be and that my attempts at endurance are wasted. My prayer as I showered and dressed went something like this:
“Lord, please either cause restoration to happen or increase my peace and patience or show me that it’s over and I need to just give up. Just please do something.”
I’m reasonably sure this doesn’t fall into one of those “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV) categories, but it was about all I could manage. It was drenched in emotion and not terribly grounded in clear thinking, but it was honest.
Emotions tell us that something is wrong or right in a relationship, but emotions must lead to reason, and reason must be guided by truth if we are to take constructive action. We must not short-circuit the process and jump straight from emotions to action without the benefit of reason. Many couples who have done this have found themselves in winter when they could have ended up in spring or summer.
EMOTIONS moderated by REASON guided by TRUTH = CONSTRUCTIVE ACTION
These words connected with me because I’ve felt that the struggle in my marriage very much involves jumping several levels of reaction without pursuing the reasonable intervening actions of potential healing. They also made me feel a little more hopeful that the path we’re on is not irreversible. We are not beyond the healing hand of God.
Today’s New Testament Scripture was one of my favorite passages.
Philippians 4:4-9 | New Living Translation (NLT)
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Be joyful in everything? I’m pretty much failing in that about 70% of the time. Don’t worry about anything? Hah! Let’s up my failure rate to about 95%. Experience God’s peace? Um…not so much. And here I thought this was one of my favorite passages of the Bible. What’s wrong with me?
Then I got to verses 8 and 9…”one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable…Keep putting into practice…Then the God of peace will be with you.”
That is the part where my responsibility kicks in and action is required. My thoughts are the field in which the battle of emotions and reason wages. I can either focus on the truth of God and His Word, or I can succumb to the muddled fears of faithlessness. I can either fill my mind with that which is excellent and worthy of praise or I can strand myself in the desert of doubt and hopelessness. And it is when I follow what God is showing me – even when life feels raw and broken – that I will see His peace surrounding me. Maybe it is obedience that allows peace to reign, or it is obedience that opens my eyes to the reality of God’s peace that has always been there but I was unable to see. Either way, my path seems a lot more clear now than it did early this morning.
One final tangible reflection of God’s faithfulness came following the service when one of the men from the church – a faithful, generous person – asked me how I’m doing. I tend to be rather guarded when it comes to discussing my situation with anyone, especially when I’m unsure whether the person knows what is happening in my marriage. It’s not a burden that I enjoy discussing. Something in the way this man asked me how I’m doing, however, told me that he knew.
I replied that it’s a complex question and that I’m doing the best I can. He then told me that he and his wife went through something similar. They had been married 25 years, separated and divorced for a year, and then – miraculously – found restoration and remarried. It’s been 25 more years since their renewal. His message to me was to not give up, to keep praying, and to trust in God’s healing.
It was that story, that encouragement, that message of hope that chipped away the last shards of my morning sadness and cemented in my mind that God is in control and moving in ways I can’t possibly see…yet.
It’s pretty amazing what a range of emotions I’m capable of experiencing in a relatively brief space of time. It’s even more amazing how the perfect love of God covers the expanse of my weakness and draws me deeper into His peace.
Into His deep, unmistakeable, and unending peace.