Marriage-CoupleWhen discouragement sets into a relationship the last thing you need is justification to quit. If you have any reason to quit anywhere in your mind it will undermine your willingness to work through the challenges.

All relationships have challenges and the growth of all relationships requires that both sides develop and change, which seldom happens simultaneously. Usually one person tries while the other resists. Then it seems they switch sides and the other person puts forth effort while the one who was trying gives up.

I have seen this in counseling hundreds of times. At some point the one who is putting forth effort loses hope and quits trying. “After all, why should I be the only one willing to change?” is usually the driving logic. It is amazing how quickly monumental problems are resolved when both partners try at the same time.

The Bible tells us Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Pr. 13:12). Do everything possible to keep hope alive. Much of the loss of hope emerges from faulty thinking or religious concepts that condemn us when things are going wrong. One of things I’ve heard from preachers for years is, “If you didn’t start your relationship right God can’t bless it.” This kind of thinking is a cancer that eats away at the heart of the person who is being influenced by it.

Many times I have worked with couples who defaulted to “God can’t bless our marriage” every time something went badly. It was usually based on condemnation from moral compromises made before marriage. By all means, we should endeavor to keep our conscience clear; we would greatly benefit our relationships if they all started and progressed in a godly manner. But the past can’t be the basis from which you determine your future.

When reading the genealogies of Jesus you come across one of those passages you think God should have left out of the Bible. Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah (Matt. 1:6-7). There it is right out in the open for everyone to see! Every time someone reads these passages he or she is reminded of David’s adulterous, murderous affair with Bathsheba. Why would God inspire this information to be part of New Testament Scripture? I’m sure there are answers well beyond my understanding but, among other things, this gives hope for those who have done terrible things and made compromises in their relationship.

Nearly everyone knows the story: David committed adultery with Bathsheba while her husband, who served in David’s army, was off at war. David discovered she was pregnant with his child and after a failed attempt at deception he arranged to have Uriah killed in battle. It seemed he had gotten away with it until a prophet came forward and confronted the king. David’s heart was pricked and he turned to God with all his heart.

David’s sin had negative consequences that plagued him for the rest of his life. Years later when his son, Absalom, staged a rebellion it was Bathsheba’s grandfather, one of David’s wisest counselors, who plotted against the king. It caused him social and political hardships, not to mention the deep internal struggle he went through.

When we read these words of David quoted by the Apostle Paul we don’t see a man who thought he had gotten by with something. We see a man overwhelmed with the goodness of God. “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin” (Rom. 4:7-8). David did not take his sin lightly, but as a man of faith he didn’t appeal to God based on his righteousness, but on God mercy!

Amazingly David, with this incredible flaw, is identified as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). But that is not the end of the story. When David reconnected with God, faced his sin, and dealt with his heart, Solomon, the son born from Bathsheba, became the most powerful King of Israel and it is through this bloodline the Savior of the world comes!

My point is, if God can provide such a glorious recovery for David and Bathsheba what can He do for you? Don’t use your past failures as justification to give up hope for the future of your marriage! Start over from where you are. Accept God’s forgiveness which has been freely given in Christ, apologize to one another for compromising, and move on.

At a very deep level we are all motivated by our perception and anticipation of pain and pleasure. We are created to avoid pain and move toward pleasure. Interestingly, however, we will face pain for the hope of pleasure. If we do not believe God can bless our marriage regardless of how it started we will anticipate pain which will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we accept God’s forgiveness and mercy for our past we can tap into His grace for our future and have an incredible marriage. The same Scripture that says hope deferred makes the heart sick goes on to say when the desire, dream or longing is fulfilled it is a tree of life!

Put your hope in God for a great marriage, hope will come alive, and you will have the internal strength you need to work through the problems until you reach the promise.
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