Jani: Hello, everyone. Welcome to He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund. I’m so glad you’re here and I’m also glad my husband, Ray Ortlund, is here with me.
OUr question for Today
We have an “Ask Jani” question that we want to talk through today, Ray, and it’s from a wife whose husband is not taking any spiritual initiative in the marriage or in the family. She has a young child. She does say that her husband knows God. But she’s not sure if he reads the Bible, or he prays. And her question is this:
“What am I to do while my heart longs for his spiritual life to thrive and our unity to grow in Christ?”
Ray: Wow. That is such a great question, and it is a common dilemma for a young wife and mom, because we husbands can…we can be trying.
Jani: Of course we wives are always perfect, aren’t we ladies?
Well, that situation is not easy, that real life situation, but neither is it impossible. And when the Lord calls a young woman into that difficulty, he always goes with her into the difficulty.
She’s not alone.
Ray: She’s not alone, and she has a strong ally in the living Christ.
Accepting Disappointment (Romans 15:7)
The verse that comes to my mind, honey, is Romans 15:7:
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”Romans 15:7
Some translations say, “Therefore accept one another, as Christ has accepted you, for the glory of God,” that’s a good translation, too.
Now, why is that verse there in the Bible? How is that relevant to really every marriage in and especially a marriage when it’s frustrating and disappointing? It’s relevant because we all disappoint one another all the time, at various levels. What we’re trying to do is just disappoint each other at a rate that’s such that the disappointment can be absorbed.
But let’s deeply accept disappointment, even in our most significant relationships, including marriage, because we will let each other down. We don’t mean to, we just do.
So, the Bible says—God says—to us, “Therefore welcome one another,” (accept one another) “as Christ has accepted you, for the glory of God.” It’s a wonderful thing to realize the living Christ above, right now is not looking at you, Jani, or at me, and kind of rolling his eyes and thinking, “When will they ever get it? Man, I knew y’all would be a problem, but I didn’t count on this. Really?” He’s not feeling that. He’s not saying that. He has deeply welcomed us. He has sincerely accepted us. The living Christ, at this moment, is not tired, and he’s not tired of us.
Jani: That’s so good.
“What about actual betrayals?”
Ray: Yeah. So, again, the verse says, “…accept one another, as Christ has accepted you for the glory of God.”
By the way, of course, we’re not talking about sinful betrayals. We’re not talking about mistreatment and so forth. Sinful betrayals and actual mistreatment of a wife must be confronted, gently, but clearly confronted.
“I really hoped for something better!”
But we’re talking here about a marriage where a wife discovers that her husband isn’t all she had hoped for, which is so common; indeed, it’s universal. That’s not a failure in a marriage. It’s what marriage is for.
Jani: What? Say that again.
Ray: When we discover in each other something that’s disappointing, and each one is looking at the other thinking, “I’d really hoped for something better!”…that moment, that disappointment, that discovery, that’s not a failure of marriage, that’s what marriage is for. Marriage is amazing, because in this relationship, uniquely, we can be accepted, even when we’re not at our best.
Now, maybe that sounds simple and obvious, but actually, that’s amazing. Here I have a safe place, with one human being on the face of the earth, where I can be at times a doofus.
Jani: Shh…that’s my secret. I never tell anybody that, but it is true.
Ray: I can be a doofus at times and it’s not going to jeopardize the relationship. “Therefore accept one another as Christ has accepted you, for the glory of God.” That is very real, and very beautiful, and sometimes very difficult in a marriage.
Prayer/Patience vs. Pressure/Hints
So I would say to this precious young lady if prayer and patience don’t work, pressure and hints will never work.
Ray: That’s why it says, “Therefore accept one another as Christ has accepted you, for the glory of God.”
A relationship with that kind of acceptance in the face of disappointment actually wins the argument with disappointment. That’s where the glory of God is displayed in the world today.
Ray: You see, accept one another as Christ has accepted you for the glory of God. Where can the glory of God be seen clearly in the world today? Well, not just in a beautiful sunset, not just in a dramatic symphony—the glory of God can be seen in imperfect marriage where someone, husband or wife (sometimes both), are paying a personal price to accept the other as Christ has accepted him or her. That’s glorious. Only God can do that in this world.
You’re doing better than you think!
So I would say to this young wife, and I really respect the way she asked the question, it was thoughtfully asked and it was carefully asked. It’s really a wonderful, impressive question. There’s so much about the way she even makes her point that is admirable. I would say to this young mom, “It sounds like you’re doing way better than you think. Way to go. You just keep going. Keep praying, keeping patient. It’s going to work way better than pressure and hints.”
“He tricked me! I’M NOT SURE I CAN ACCEPT HIM.”
Jani: Wow. That is both encouraging and a little bit alarming. And this is why I think it might sound alarming to some of our listeners. They might be thinking, “Wait, you mean, I might have to live accepting this man the way he is until he dies or I die? I didn’t marry him for that. He tricked me! He was different before he got married!”
Ray: You have said to me at times, “Ray, you tricked me!”
Jani: I felt like that early on, and I think some of our young wives understand that.
Ray: Who gets married and doesn’t have that thought?
Jani: Exactly. Exactly. So that disappointment, wife, that you might be feeling right now is, “I’m not sure I can accept him.” So what I would encourage you to do—and Ray you help me here with this—is go to Jesus and ask him,
“What is it about your acceptance of me, Lord Jesus, that I don’t understand yet, that I can’t figure out how to so accept this man and that I’ve promised you I will love?”
Ray: That’s right.
Jani: I think, honey—tell me what you think about this—I think a lot of acceptance is absorbing it, just taking it in and not letting it be a federal case. So what if I am a neatnik and you are a collector?
Ray: Oh, you mean that might happen?
Jani: Is it really that big a deal that I like the kitchen table cleaned off and you like to spread it with your books and bills?
Ray: And then sometimes, you know, there are really big deal issues that arise in a marriage that require mega patience.
go to Christ, and have a friend.
Ray: But God has that for us, too, and, you know, another recommendation I would ask this young mom and wife to consider is, “Why not have coffee or tea once a month with a more mature, trustworthy Christian friend (lady) where in complete safety, and every comment is locked away in the vault of their friendship, they can talk through everything and pray together?
Ray: …so that young wife is not alone and she has a mature, trustworthy friend who’s walking with her in life. And I just think that kind of friendship, what’s the what’s the phrase, “It halves all of our troubles and doubles all of our joys.” So that would be the other: go to Christ and have a friend.
Jani: That really helps, Ray. Thank you. I also liked when you said that if prayer and patience aren’t working, certainly pressure and hints won’t make it any better.
Ray: Men don’t like pressure.
Jani: Women, let’s keep praying, let’s keep waiting on the Lord, and let’s ask him to help us accept and to welcome that man we promised God we would love, and let the Holy Spirit change him.
Ray: And you’re doing better than you think. The Lord is more present than sometimes you feel. You’re doing so well. You just hang in there.
Jani: God bless you.