Hope, Faith, and LOVE Applied!
-Cindy Wright – April 7, 2012
Hope is what Jesus Christ brought into this world because of His love for us, through His birth, His life, His sacrificial death on a cross, and His resurrection from the dead. For this reason, we all have hope, if we have faith to believe, and receive.
No matter what is going on in your life, or what is going on in your marriage, there is hope. Hope realized may not come in the way you believe it should, but it will come in a way that will be redemptive. We have a Savior. Not one tear will be shed, not one angst will be experienced that will be wasted, if we give it to Christ to redeem. New life and redemption will grow from that which we give to God to touch and to heal and to transform.
The problem is that we want what we want, when we want it. But God doesn’t always give us what we want (just as we don’t always give our children what they want, even though they are convinced it’s best). God gives us what we need. As we put our hands, our hearts, and our lives into His, there is resurrection power available. God is waiting. He loves you and wants to work in and through you for the betterment of all involved. Are you willing to hope against hope?
Mike Mason said something that is quite true, as it pertains to marriage:
“Love convinces a couple that they are the greatest romance that has ever been, that no two people have ever loved as they do, and that they will sacrifice absolutely anything in order to be together. And then marriage asks them to prove it.”
The unfortunate part is that many people fail when they’re standing on the proving ground of marriage. And the reason? There are lots of reasons. But one of them is something John Thomas points out:
“Sadly, most Christian marriages represent nothing more than re-packaged psychology and Hollywood nonsense wrapped in a few Bible verses, with a vision so low it’s no wonder half of them end in divorce. How I long for Christ-followers to experience the stunning views of God from the top of the peak of marriage! Unfortunately, most are stuck in the climb, whining and complaining about not getting his or her ‘needs met,’ which is for each of them the highest goal of marriage.
“Don’t fear the sacrifices of marriage and parenthood, my friend, abandon yourself to them and let Love do its mysterious work.”
Of course, LOVE is embodied in who God is. His very name means LOVE. But for Love to truly be lived out, faith and hope come hand-in-hand. (See 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.) We are told that “the greatest of these is love,” but you can’t erase the importance of hope or faith either.
What’s difficult for us to comprehend sometimes is that in order to truly love, both hope and faith must be tried.
Something that Oswald Chambers wrote in his book, My Utmost for His Highest, applies to how we live our lives within our marriages and everywhere we are, as followers of Jesus Christ. He wrote:
“God has frequently to knock the bottom board out of your experience if you are a saint in order to get you into contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of FAITH, not a life of sentimental enjoyment of His blessings. Your earlier life of faith was narrow and intense, settled around a little sun-spot of experience, full of light and sweetness; then God withdrew His conscious blessings in order to teach you to walk by faith… Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds.
“Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him —I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.“
Even when things are going on in your marriage in a direction that is extremely difficult and appears hopeless that any good can come out of it, it can be helpful to keep in mind something you can learn from an inspiring message, “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming.”
Here’s a short segment of that message, that I hope will inspire you:
A few things Beth Moore talked about in the Bible study, Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman, seems applicable, as well. (Queen Esther’s testimony in the Bible, shows that she very well understood the darkness of many “Friday’s” with the hope that “Sunday” would be coming. She had to trust God that even though things looked about as dark as it could get, He could work in and through her husband to usher in Light and redemption.) Whether you’re a woman or a man, these principles still apply.
“When we trust our lives to the unseen but ever-present God, He will write our lives into His story and every last one of them will turn out to be a great read, with a grand ending.”
Keep in mind that:
“…God never hangs a veil over our understanding accidentally. He is intentional. There is a reason. And the reason may be that He is calling you to faith.”
Years ago, when I was being tormented by memories of some tough things I lived through when I was younger, I found that when I was finally able to release it all over to God in faith, He redeemed it. Over the years I have seen that nothing I have suffered has been wasted. What I’ve learned through our “Wonderful Counselor” has helped me in my marriage and in the ministry of Marriage Missions, and continues to do so. God IS a redeemer.
Some things that Paul Tripp wrote in his book, What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, applies to all of this. He wrote:
“God is in control not only of the locations in which you live, but also of the influences that have shaped you as a person. He has not only written the story of you and your spouse and determined that your stories would intersect, but he has controlled all the things that have made you different from one another.
“As you struggle, you must not view your marriage as bad luck, or poor planning, or as a mess that you made for yourself [although any or all of this could contribute to what is happening]. God is right smack-dab in the middle of your struggle. He is not surprised by what you are facing today. He is up to something. [The question is, will you participate with Him in this, or fight against Him?]
“…God is working to rescue you from you, to deliver you from sin, and to form the character of Jesus in you. Marriage, the world’s most long-term and comprehensive relationship, is taking place in the middle of sanctification, the world’s most important unfinished process. Why would God do this? Hasn’t he gotten the proverbial cart before the proverbial horse? Well, the reason this doesn’t seem to make sense to us is that our purpose for marriage tends to be different from the Lord’s. We’re just not on God’s agenda page.
“Our desire is that our marriages would be the location of our comfort, ease, and enjoyment; we often have desires no bigger than this. But God’s purpose is that each of our marriages would be a tool for something that is way more miraculous and glorious than our tiny, little, self-focused definition of happiness. He has designed marriage to be one of his most effective and efficient tools of personal holiness. He has designed your marriage to change you.”
And change you, it will! Marriage will either be the vehicle to change you for the better or for the worse. It’s whether you truly allow God works in you and through you in His power to apply faith, hope, and love, as He guides.
I’d like to share something with you I heard on a radio broadcast concerning love —particularly Christian love within marriage. This radio interview was with Paul Tripp, who was being interviewed by Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine, on the Family Life Today radio program (Familylife.com). The subject was, “What is Love” (the 3rd day —7/28/2010, of a 3 day series).
In one part of the interview, Dennis Rainey had talked of a friend who realized that he didn’t love his wife as he thought he had and was questioning what love really was. Paul gave him several insights that I’ll copy below for you to read. (For a “heads up,” one of them will refer to a time when he and his wife Luella experienced a time of “irritation” he had discussed earlier in the interview, but explains a lesson learned in these insights.) The conversation proceeded like this:
Dennis: I want to go back to my friend that I was talking to. Because I could hear him ask, at this point, “But Paul, I know of God’s love for me. I’ve studied it. I’ve read about it. I’ve experienced it. But there are those moments when I feel powerless. I feel like old habits, old behaviors surface and I just become plain selfish again. Where does the power come from to be able to love like you’re talking about?
Paul: I think one of the most important passages for marriage is Galatians 2:20… “I’ve been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live. Christ lives in me. And the life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Historical fact: I’ve been crucified with Christ. I’m identified with his life, death, and resurrection. Statement of present redemptive reality: I no longer live, Christ lives in me. This is mind-boggling beautiful. That God knew —because of who I am and where I’m living —it’s not enough to forgive me. He literally unzips me and gets inside of me. So, the living presence of Christ now lives inside of me. When Paul says, “I no longer live,” he’s not meaning he’s dead, because he wouldn’t be writing. What he means is, now what energizes me is not me; it’s the life of Christ.
Now, here’s the third phrase, I think it’s very important: “The life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, gave Himself for me.” That’s a confession. I’m going to live like I actually believe that Christ is with me.
So in this moment of irritation, I go back to my bedroom. I say, “Jesus, I can’t do this. There’s everything INSIDE of me that wants me to rip Luella, and yet I DON’T want to. I know this is wrong, please help me. I’m going to walk down this hallway, believing that Jesus is with me, and I’m going to ask forgiveness for this woman that I’d like to rip.” That’s living the Gospel.
…Co-host Bob Lepine starts to expand on this and the conversation goes on like this:
Bob: Self is crucified with Christ, therefore self no longer lives. Jesus Christ now lives in me, and the life I live now is motivated by the Son of God. To see it that way, and to see what we’re really talking about is a “death to self” being the directive force of your life. And instead, Jesus Christ is the directive force of your life. So the life you now live, you live by faith to what he’s calling you to do, which is better than what self is banging around and saying, “No, you like this. Come on, try this. You’ll love it.”
Paul: And in His living presence with me that… Let me say it this way: everyday every married couple, husband and wife, measure their potential. It’s intensively human to do it; I’m always measuring my potential. What potential I have to live through this day; what potential I have in my job; you know, we’re always measuring potential.
What Paul is saying is, “Don’t measure your potential just by your track record or the size of your problem. Your potential is Christ. He’s now living in you. He is in you, with you, for you. You now have power to do what you would not have been able to do, apart from Christ.”
I would ask the husbands and wives who are discouraged in marriages right now, how are you measuring your potential? Has Christ been part of that measurement? Because if it’s only your track record, and only the size of the problem, the problem is getting bigger, the track record is getting longer. You give way to discouragement, panic, denial, all those kinds of things. It’s when I say Christ is my potential, I step forward with courage and hope.
Bob: Yes. What can’t He do through you? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. In fact we were talking with a couple not long ago, Paul, that had a marriage situation where there had been infidelity and there was anger in the marriage. It looked like it was over. The wife went to a marriage counselor and she basically said to the counselor, “There’s no hope left for our marriage.”
And in the middle of the counseling session, this counselor stopped her and said, “Let me ask you a question. Do you believe Jesus came back from the dead?” She said, “Well, yes.”
He said, “No, you didn’t hear me, do you believe Jesus came back from the dead?” She said, “Yes.”
He said, “And you don’t think there’s any hope for your marriage?” It was the breaking point for her.
The discussion progressed and Paul said the following that you might find helpful in all of this:
You get your best definition of love from an event. And that event is the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. I think the Bible calls us to “cruciform” love. Let me explain that term. ”Cruci” means cross. “Form” means “in the shape of.” It’s love that shapes itself to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is exactly what John does in 1 John 4. There are two lengthy discussions of love in the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4. In the middle of that passage, John says, “This is love.“
Think about it, if God can raise Christ from the dead, He certainly can raise dead feelings and breathe new life into them and any situation, if we fully commit ourselves and our marriages to Him.
I want to close these thoughts on Hope, Faith, Love Applied, with something Stormie Omartian wrote in her book, The Power of Prayer(TM) to Change Your Marriage:
“Your prayers for your husband (wife) and for your marriage. Your prayers for your husband (wife) have great power in the spirit realm. The same enemy of your soul who wants to see YOU destroyed also wants to see YOUR MARRIAGE destroyed. If you don’t realize that, you will end up thinking that your spouse is the enemy and your fight is with him (her). While it’s true he (she) may be acting like the devil sometimes, he (she) is not the enemy. Jesus won the victory over death and hell, so if you are living in hell in your marriage relationship, you have not yet moved into the victory God has for you.
“Whenever you find yourself in a tough situation in your life or in your marriage, take authority over it with prayer in Jesus’ name. When you pray with God-given authority, it releases the power of God to work in both of your lives. You can’t necessarily change the strong will of your spouse, but when you pray for him or her, you invite God to create an atmosphere in the spirit realm around him or her that helps him or her to better see the Truth.”
We’re told in the Bible that Jesus is the “the way, and the truth, and the life.” The question is, will you commit your life and your marriage to Him? If and when you do, resurrection power is available!