From chapter 10 of The Marriage Miracle
By Bob and Cheryl Moeller
Years ago when I was going through a particularly difficult season of life, someone gave me a copy of the devotional classic, Streams in the Desert. This remarkably enduring work was written by Mrs. Charles Cowman, the wife of a missionary in the Far East at the turn of the 20th century. It was written from her own painful experiences as a means to encourage hurting, discouraged, and depressed believers.
One story that impacted me involved a depressed and discouraged missionary in China who was ready to throw in the towel. Before leaving China to return home, he decided to take an extended sabbatical at a mission station. He arrived at the guest house prepared for him with a plan to spend weeks in prayer, introspection, and wrestling with God regarding his future in China.
Instead, when the tired and sullen missionary opened the door to his room, he happened to glance up at the wall and saw a simple plaque that read, “Have you tried giving thanks?”
The question hit the discouraged missionary with the force of a Pacific typhoon. Right there he dropped to his knees and began to give God thanks for all the difficulties he faced. One by one, he let go of his anger and self-pity and began embracing thanksgiving and praise. The hosts were admittedly surprised when the next day their visiting guest stood at their door with bags packed. With a radiant smile on his face, he announced he no longer needed a month of sabbatical to sort through his problems. God had lifted his depression and he was ready to dive back into his work.
I can’t guarantee every couple will experience such an immediate turnaround the moment they begin giving God thanks and praise for their difficult circumstances. However, a hardened heart that turns from anger and self-pity to forgiveness and thanksgiving will soon find the sun breaking. Psalm 34 shares the ultimate result of praise, “I sought the Lord and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:4-6).
Turn as a couple to praise and thanksgiving when things are difficult in your marriage. It will keep your hearts soft toward one another and God. It will open the opportunity for God to demonstrate His grace and free you from the cruel prison of gloom and hopelessness.
Remember, marriage is for better for worse for keeps.
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