Once again, I’m posting a monthly marriage miracle. This month the story is from my life. God has worked many miracles in our 45-year marriage. This one has to do with God giving me the insight that I needed to stop putting my hope in my husband. Instead, I needed to put my hope in God alone. As I did that, my heart changed. Also, my relationship, not only with my husband, but with the Lord, changed. Here’s my story that I wrote years ago. I pray that this will help you to put your hope in the Lord rather than in your husband.
PUTTING MY HOPE IN GOD
One day I wrote down some of what I hoped for in regard to our marriage:
I hope my husband changes.
I hope my husband meets my needs.
I hope my husband will embrace deliverance.
I hope my husband becomes all God has called him to be.
I hope my husband becomes an excellent spiritual leader for our family.
I reread this list, and saw God wasn’t at the center of my hopes.
As I studied the Word and looked up verses about hope, I gradually understood the error of placing my hope in my husband, a fallible man who failed often. I needed to put my hope in God. When I put my hope in Him and His unfailing love for me, I found myself more joyful, with fewer ups and downs in my emotional life in regard to marriage.
Waiting, Hoping, Enduring
Once I took my mind off feeling hopeless because my husband didn’t express his love to me in the way I wanted to be loved, I determined to learn to truly love him. As I studied 1 Corinthians 13 in an effort to learn how to do this, I discovered three of the “love is” statements—“Love is patient,” “love hopes all things,” and “love endures all things”—are tied together.
Isaiah 40:31 centers on waiting, hoping and enduring. While many versions give promises to “those who wait upon the Lord” others like the NIV say: “those who hope in the Lord.” The Amplified Bible connects the waiting and the hoping. “But those who wait for the LORD [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power; they will lift their wings and [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not grow tired.”
As I saw “the wait-hope-endure interconnection,” I realized when I made statements like “I’m sick of waiting for something good to happen,” or “I just can’t endure this anymore,” this led to hopelessness and showed I once again shifted my focus to my husband changing, instead of keeping my focus on the Lord.
Putting My Hope in the Lord
On the way to a counseling session one day, my husband accused me: “You have lost hope in me.” After I thought about it for a few minutes, I realized when I put my hope in him, it created a problem.
When I feel overwhelmed by disappointments—typically based on something other than what I expected, I easily give in to hopelessness, especially when I expect God to do something extraordinary in my marriage when I pray, but instead it seems He does nothing. As I put my hope in God, marital disappointments no longer overwhelm me. Here’s what Romans 5:5 says about the matter: “…hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (AMP)
In his book, The Surprising Grace of Disappointment; Finding Hope When God Seems to Fail Us, (Moody 2013,) John Koessler helped to convict me as to why I often felt hopeless: “…we can grow irritated with Jesus when He seems unresponsive to our requests. We appreciate the encouragement of His Word, but would like something more substantial. Specifically, we want Him to get with the program—our program—and comply with the agenda we have set for Him. But the God who hears us when we cry also acts in His own time and in His own way. He is a God who makes promises. But He is also the one who determines how He will keep them. This is the chief difference between faith and presumption. Faith and presumption both expect something from God. Presumption wants to call the shots. Faith bows the knee.”
Hope and A Future
A favorite verse I like to recite is Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” For years I failed to apply it to my marriage. But these days when I feel I’m losing hope, I look at the verse. This is how I pray that verse for my life with Steve: “I praise You, Lord, that You know the plans You have for me and Steve as a couple—plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us a future and a hope.”
Not long ago, God gave me an insight on this verse: Satan has a plan too. If Satan had a verse of his own it would read like this: “I know the plans I have for your marriage, plans to keep it from prospering and plans to harm you. Plans to cause you to believe you have no future in this relationship, and there is no hope for you and Steve and your life together.” I discovered if I’m feeling hopeless and that “the love is gone,” I know from where those thoughts arise. Certainly not from the Lord.
Holding to God’s Promises
God gave me this acronym for hope: Holding Onto Promises Expectantly—not my husband’s promises, but God’s. My husband makes promises and breaks them. I do the same to him at times. Only God is the perfect promise-keeper. If I hold to my husband’s promises, I lose hope. As I hold to God’s promises, my hope soars, and I see how God has intervened in countless ways as I put my hope in Him, but it’s in His way and in His time.
Delving deeply into God’s Word restores me to peace and to hope as I trust in Him and realize my husband cannot be trusted. None of us can. But the good news is: God can be trusted. He, not my husband, is my Rock, and if I hold to that and to Him, I will have hope, no matter what difficulties we face in marriage.
Lord, I praise You that You are my hope, and You can rescue me from the pit of hopelessness. Help me to stop hoping in my husband. Let me place my hope fully in You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.