The first time I met my husband, I was impressed by his love for God, but baffled by the size of his belt buckle. Having lived most of my life in urban settings, I was unfamiliar with the cowboy culture in which he was immersed. Soon I would marry that man and discover that my life to that point had not prepared me for the role of a farm wife. I had no idea whether our grain was “certified” or that it was a bad idea to wear flip-flops to a cattle branding! Fast forward another three years and my husband felt called to plant a church. Now I had the privilege of transitioning to another role: pastor’s wife.
For the most part, I have loved being married to my pastor-husband. But like most pastors’ wives who have served alongside their husbands through seasons of intense ministry work, I have sometimes felt a weariness in my bones. During particularly difficult seasons, the demands of ministry can make a pastor’s wife feel overtaxed, frayed, and drained of joy and energy. Maybe you’ve experienced something similar?
If we want to persevere in our faith, it is essential that we find hope amidst the weariness. I don’t mean random, whimsical hope based on nothing but naive optimism. Rather I mean solid, concrete hope that is anchored in the definitive work of Christ on the cross. This is true for all believers, but today I write for pastors’ wives who may struggle to find hope. Perhaps your husband is in the trenches of an intense season of ministry or immersed in an ongoing controversy. If your life feels like a pressure-cooker that desperately needs to let off some steam, it may be time to make a change. In weary times, we shouldn’t be afraid to bend our day into a shape that strengthens our joy in the Lord.
Find Margin in Your Day
Sometimes we need to shrink down our volunteer tasks and to-do lists to a minimum, even at the risk of letting people down. We will struggle to persevere until we have space in our lives to commune with Christ and to promote the well-being of our families.
Sometimes pastor’s wives put superhuman expectations on themselves. Maybe it’s because we feel like people are always watching or maybe it’s because we don’t want to be the cog that malfunctions in our husband’s ministry wheel. But placing high expectations on ourselves for ministry productivity is not always wise (or humble!) because it denies the human limitations that God has placed on our lives. The truth is that we need enough space in our lives to allow for rest and refreshment in the Lord. Just like a typed page leaves white space around the border, we need margin in our lives so that we don’t overcrowd the page and neglect the things that matter most. This is especially true when we go through ministry trials.
Water in Order to Be Watered
The pursuit of holiness is not something done in isolation. We benefit from time alone with God, but we should not underestimate the sanctification that happens as we interact with the faith of others. Proverbs 11:25 says, “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” When we encourage our war-wearied husbands with spiritual conversation, we are also “watered” and “enriched.” This is not necessarily because we have something profound to say, but simply because we are setting our mind on things above (Col. 3:2).
I love the example of Susannah Spurgeon. In his biography Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Ray Rhodes Jr. recalls how Susie would read to her famous pastor-husband, Charles Spurgeon, when he became depressed. She would begin with George Herbert’s poetry and finish with the wisdom of Richard Baxter (whom she called “the pastor’s pastor”). Afterward, they would sit and discuss these precious truths. In this way, both she and Charles were stirred up to praise God and marvel at His goodness.
Pray Like Reversed Thunder
Sometimes our burnout can become so severe that we feel too weary to encourage anyone. We may even struggle to read God’s Word or go to church on a Sunday morning. This can be a blessing in disguise because it reminds us that we cannot conjure up holiness through willpower any more than we can persevere in the faith through mere grit.
When we become disillusioned with our so-called strength, it makes our access to God more precious. Only He has the power to deliver our loved ones from the wiles of the evil one and restore the joy of our salvation. I love how poet George Herbert describes prayer as “reversed thunder” in his poem “Prayer.” It reminds me that even if I am curled up in a fetal position, barely able to whisper a prayer, my prayer resounds like a thunderclap in heaven because of the power of the One who hears and answers!
The secret to persevering as a pastor’s wife is not really a secret at all. It’s a Person. Christ anchors our souls to the Most Holy Place (Heb. 6:19), and because of His finished work we have a concrete reason to hope. In Christ, we have an ocean of spiritual resources and when we walk in close communion with Him, it’s like we are diving into the depths of “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).
If you are in a season of weariness, don’t be afraid to create margin in your life, pursue fellowship and ask God to help. Remember the mighty power of God to save and restore. He “will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).