By guest authors Dianne Doty and Nancy Patterson
As homeschool moms, it can be tough to balance our marriages with the ever-increasing pressures of homeschooling and parenting. How can we keep our marriages strong? How can we utilize the power of forgiveness? We pray this series, taken from an out-of-print booklet entitled Encouragement for Vow-Keepers by the Center for Family Ministries, will encourage and equip you in your journey. Read Part 3 here.
“Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise; they are simply the bass notes of our life song, ‘to God be the Glory.'” – C.H. Spurgeon
Gray-haired, frail and weak, she sat in her rocking chair, reflecting back over the years. Tomorrow would have been her 60th wedding anniversary. But now, her husband was with the Lord. Her wedding vows were fulfilled:
For better or for worse … there had been both.
In sickness and in health … she had laid him to rest after 10 grueling years of battling cancer and depression.
For richer, for poorer … poorer in their early days, then richer, then poorer again as medical costs robbed them all they had …
She was a wife who had withstood the years. She could stand before her God with a clear conscience .. she had kept her vows. She missed her husband; she grieved the loss of his presence, though she was relieved that he was at last out of pain and with the Lord. She was grateful that she hadn’t bailed out during the “worse” times of their lives. Reflection caused her to see that God did indeed bless her marriage and her children through all of it. How grateful she was for God’s ways, she could truly praise Him.
How is it possible to daily keep our focus on Jesus and His purpose for our lives and the lives of our loved ones in the midst of the difficulties we face? Isaiah 61:3 says that God gives a “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (NIV). As we learn to praise the Lord for His dealings in our lives, we experience the “balm of praise,” the healing of a wounded heart.
Consider these thoughts taken from Ruth Myer’s books, 31 Days of Praise:
- “The more your honor the Lord with your praise, the more He will refresh you and deepen your experience of Him.” (As we begin to see our trials as God’s school of faith, we will look beyond the trial itself and glory in the lessons learned.)
- “As fire melts unrefined silver bringing the impurities to the surface, so trials bring the ‘scum’ to the top in your life. When you praise God in the midst of a trial, you cooperate with His plan to remove the scum; when you complain, you resist His plan and stir the impurities right back into your character. This means that God, to accomplish His good purposes, may have to send or permit another trial; it may delay the unfolding of His good plan for you and your loved ones.” (God desires us to praise Him in ALL things … so that He might do a work in us.)
- “Through praise you focus your attention on God. You acknowledge Him as your source of overcoming power. You begin to look at your problems from a new perspective. You compare them with your mighty, unlimited God.” (Seeing things from God’s perspective lifts us out of the heaviness of our trials and brings about a thankful spirit).
- “True praise is unconditional. It’s not an attempt to manipulate God into producing the precise results we hope for. Instead, it helps us accept our situation, as it is, whether or not He changes it. Continued praise helps us reach the place where we can say, “Father, I don’t want You to remove this problem until You’ve done all you want to do, through it, in me, and in others.” (Only praise can give us the strength to say this and mean it … praise and trust in our God who knows what is best for us and for those whom our lives touch.)
Our faith and confidence in God is strengthened as we praise Him. We see difficulties from His perspective, which encourages us and gives us hope. Encouragement for Vow Keepers, the title of this booklet … yes, we know and affirm the hardships that many wives face … yet there is hope in God … He will work in you a mighty work, whether or not He changes your difficult marriage. May you be encouraged to keep your vows especially in difficult times.
Lord, You have said that You inhabit the praises of Your people. Thank You that through praise You enable me to keep my heart focused on You in order to see my difficulties from Your perspective and be a vow-keeper to Your glory and praise.
– Dianne and Nancy
P.S. If this series has been and encouragement to you, or you would like to read more from Dianne and Nancy on working through difficult relationships, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you the entire booklet, Encouragement for Vow-Keepers.