A newly divorced girlfriend of mine was commenting to some friends about how her ex husband had changed her, and she didn’t feel it was for the better. I think that, in her case, she was spiritually abused, chewed up, mauled, spit out and treated with total animosity. And that was during the marriage. Then he divorced her. I’m impressed to see her still working and dealing with life and reaching out to help others. I would probably be living in a cave in the woods somewhere, content to be a hermit forever after. But she has a deep faith in God that will carry her even though she’ll have some hurdles to jump. That’s the way the Holy Spirit works–often through hardship.
I’ve had a different experience. I married many years ago with my eyes closed and my heart blind, and though I was a Christian and the man I married was not, I was convinced he would make a good Christian, and I could help him get there. Talk about hubris, I had it. Or perhaps I simply listened to my heart and not my logic. I certainly wasn’t obeying Biblical principles. The marriage was painful and long and I discovered quickly that not only did this man I married not wish to take Christ into his life, he wanted Christ out of my life. He did everything he could to shame me, taunt me, embarrass me and force me to leave church and stop serving God. That had the interesting effect of making me fight harder to keep God in my life, to serve in church, to be what God wanted me to be. By the time that husband divorced me, I was stronger in my faith than ever before in my life. (That man was said to have come to Christ two years before his death.)
Because of the constant verbal abuse I suffered in that marriage, my pastor and church friends set me up with Mel, my Godly husband now, whose tenderness and understanding healed much of the damage I brought with me into the marriage. To my surprise, however, I found that, since I didn’t have to fight to go to church, tithe, serve God, because Mel was right there serving beside me, I wasn’t as dependent on God. When serving became easy, we both became more casual about serving. Oh, sure, we took the mission trip, and we help those we know God places in our paths, but our daily dedication to reading the Bible began to waver, our prayers became shorter. We have to fight our own self ease, at times, to continue to be open to God’s will. I think that’s why we endure difficulties and life conflicts, pain of the deaths of loved ones and job insecurities, because if life was as wonderful as just Mel and me spending every day together and loving each other and getting along better than anyone should ever be allowed to get along, we would soon be camped in a life of far too much ease. Our spiritual muscles would never be flexed. We always need hardship in our lives to remain strong in Christ.
How about you? Do you find that there are irritants in your life that keep you closer to Christ? Hard as it is, maybe those irritants are the very things we need to appreciate for keeping us in a closer walk with Him.