Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Is your marriage particularly difficult? Pastor’s wife Holly Elliff has seen it all.

Holly Elliff: My husband and I began meeting with a couple whose marriage was in a crisis, and the husband had been unfaithful. The wife had every reason, by the world’s standards, to call that marriage quits. And she made a very unusual choice.

Leslie Basham: We’ll find out what that choice was today. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, July 11th.

Often we receive e-mails from listeners with difficult marriage situations. And let me just interject, if you identify with today’s program and want to let us know, go to www.ReviveOurHearts.com to send us an e-mail.

But recently Nancy and her friend Holly Elliff met with a group of wives in Little Rock, Arkansas. They discussed some of the ins and outs of staying married even when it’s tough. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’m now watching some couples . . . this is really a sweet thing. I have some friends who are elderly now and in their very sunset years of life—50, 60 years of marriage. Any couple who’s been married that long will tell you there have been some very hard times, times that would have made a lot of other couples give up on the marriage.

These are couples who stayed with it, stayed with each other and kept bringing the Lord into that relationship. Now they are experiencing a sweetness and a richness and a joy in their marriage that is greater than anything they’ve experienced in previous years.

I remember hearing one of these wives who has had a good marriage but not a deeply satisfying marriage. That’s what everybody wants today—a soul mate. And her husband has not been—he’s a good man; he’s a provider; he’s a man who fears the Lord, but he’s not been a soul mate. (Those are my words, not hers.)

But now in their elderly years of life, him in a nursing home, they’re in their 90s, and she is saying, “There’s a sweetness of what we’ve been able to enjoy in these last years of our marriage,” that in essence she was saying, was worth waiting for. “God has blessed us with something more in our marriage than I ever dreamed was possible.”

It was interesting—I was interviewing Dr. and Mrs. Bill Bright, Bill and Vonette Bright, as he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. They had been through very, very hard times physically, and I had a chance to interview them. I asked them how they were dealing with the pressure and the problems of having a terminal illness.

Mrs. Bright: In many ways this is one of the sweetest times of our lives. We don’t argue. There’s nothing worth arguing about. Really, it’s a very, very sweet time. I consider it a privilege to care for Bill. Our prayer has been that God would let me live long enough to take care of him as long as he lived. But we are trusting Him every, every day.

Nancy: This is with oxygen tubes and medical stuff and just in a crisis situation. They said, “God is giving us now the sweetest years of our marriage.” They waited. You know, the sweetest fruit comes when you wait for it.

When things are seeming not to be sweet, we want to get rid of it, cast it off. God says, “If you’re willing to wait for it, there can be some sweet things ahead.”

Now, that doesn’t mean that if you stay in your marriage and wait for God to act that He will necessarily make your husband this great, godly soul mate that you’ve always wanted. But it does mean that God will give to you rewards of faithfulness, whatever those rewards are.

Holly: I think, Nancy, that’s a really key thing that we might want to touch on, and that is the fact that what’s happening now in this generation is that so many women are not choosing to hang onto the marriage, to fight for their marriage, to trust God to give them grace to stay in a tough marriage.

So the Christian community has the exact same divorce rate as the lost community. There’s a real problem there, that there is such a discrepancy in that area that even though we know truth, that by testimony, works, and healing marriages, we’re not willing to apply that truth.

I think it comes down to a word that Nancy used a minute ago We’re not making choices to pay the price in our personal life to go before the Lord and say, “Would You do this? I’m willing to do whatever it takes to see my marriage healed.”

I think even in a room of women this size, there are probably some of you who at this moment are thinking, “Well, I’ll give this another year or a few more months, but if things don’t get better, if it doesn’t get easier, if it doesn’t feel better a year from now, or if he hurts me five more times, I’m out of here.”

The thing that Shirley said a minute ago about the selfishness of choosing what’s best for me rather than what’s best in God’s eyes to redeem that marriage . . .

Nancy: . . . and what is the pathway of obedience, regardless of whether I ever feel better or see the results or rewards of that.

Holly: Right. I think we live in a generation that teaches us that anything that is hard or difficult or requires suffering cannot possibly be good, and it cannot possibly be God’s will if it’s not comfortable. Many of us have grown up with that mindset, and because of that we’re not willing to stay in a marriage that’s tough or difficult.

Nancy: You’ve seen some women—I think of one that I know you’ve talked with recently—who have made that tough choice to stay in a marriage where people would have said, “You shouldn’t have to stick with this guy.”

Holly: Probably eight months ago now, my husband and I began meeting with a couple whose marriage was in real crisis. The husband had been unfaithful. The wife had every reason, by the world’s standards, to call it quits.

She made a very unusual choice, and that was to say, “I’m going to continue to love my husband.” He was not acting like a godly man at that point. To say to her children, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to see God redeem our family.”

She began to make choices in that area. Eventually, her husband came to repentance, went back to those he had wronged and cleared that up, and broke off the relationship with the other person.

For the very first time in their marriage, they began to communicate about differences and hurts and areas that needed attention, and for the very first time began to see themselves as a woman and a man who needed to complete each other the way God intended.

I have watched them make choice after choice after choice; and every time they make one level of choice and respond to that the way God would want them to, God opens a door into another choice. Her husband now has changed the way he handles his business so that he’s able to be home more.

They have said to their children, “We are committed to each other. No, we’re not perfect, and we still struggle, and neither one of us had backgrounds that helped us out, and we weren’t walking into marriage the right way, but we’re committed to our family.” And their children have seen that.

The wife in this circumstance now has a huge burden for the woman that her husband was involved with, so much so that at Easter she fixed an Easter basket and took it to that woman’s house and said, “I just want you to know that I forgive you and I’m committing to you to pray for you. I’m going to lift you up before the Lord, that He will give you a life that is satisfying and fulfilling.”

So many doors have opened as a result of their obedience at the very basic level of saying, “We’re going to choose to stay in this marriage.”

God just recently dealt with them about the whole issue of children and whether or not to open that door to Him, which they have chosen to do. I met with her on a Wednesday and sat with her, and she said, “I know that the bottom-line issue here is surrender. I know that’s where I need to get.”

I saw her a couple of days later, and she said, “God has given me such a peace that I can just leave this in His hands.” I saw her the next Sunday and she said, “I found out yesterday that I’m pregnant.” She was already pregnant when we had that first conversation about obedience and surrender in that area.

God has so redeemed their marriage that a week after that event, she got a call from a woman in another church that she did not know, whose husband was in the same business and very similar circumstance, except this woman was on her way to file for divorce; and she said, “Can I just meet with you? Because somebody told me, before I go file for divorce I need to sit down with you and hear your story.”

She was able to share with this other woman where God had taken her, and as she did that the other woman said, “You know, I need to really go to the Lord and ask, ‘Can I really do this and be obedient?’” The end result of that was that the other woman made a choice not to file for divorce but to ask for help and to stay in her marriage and say, “God, restore it as well.”

So the choices we make are never just about us. The choice this one woman made is greatly going to affect the lives of her children, the life of this new baby that would not have been there, the lives of other women and men that they as a couple can now speak into because they have a platform for ministry based on the choices they made.

So if you’re sitting here today and you’re thinking, “You know, I don’t know if that choice is worth it. I don’t know if I want a 29-year testimony of depending on God for obedience and grace” . . . it’s not just about your choice. It’s about the legacy that Nancy taught on. It’s way beyond just the choice that we make for ourselves.

Leslie Basham: That’s pastor’s wife Holly Elliff with some hard but good words for anyone in a difficult marriage who falls into that category or knows someone who does.

You’ll be encouraged to know about the list of resources we’ve compiled on our website. This is something you can peruse to see what would help in your specific situation or for a friend. Our web address is www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Did you catch Holly’s emphasis on making choices? It’s tempting to feel like a victim, but it’s a good reminder that even though you can’t choose your circumstances, by God’s grace you can control your response to them.

If her comments were helpful to you, reread them on the transcript at our website. Or, better yet, for a gift of any amount, receive the CD of this week’s programs. I say “better yet” because you’ll actually get more content than we had time to air on the radio.

In August, would you take the TV-free month challenge? More about why you should do this, along with some practical help for you and your family, is at our website. If you’d rather use the phone, our number is 800-569-5959. We’d love to hear from you.

Tomorrow we’ll continue with more questions and comments from wives who have been “through the fire,” so to speak, in their marriages.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries .

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