Sitting in a familiar space, I expressed to our marriage counselors a desire for my husband to be more of a ‘promise land’ thinker–like me–when it came to our marriage. I was grumbling that he seemed to only be able to focus on the day-to-day. Even though my husband was delivering on the promises he had made in previous sessions to strengthen our marriage, I wasn’t satisfied. It still wasn’t enough.
In my focus on what was still lacking and my fixation on wanting to get to the promised land of marital bliss faster, I was dismissing what God was doing right in front of me.
Can you relate? Can you share in my experience of being in a relationship with someone – be it a spouse, other family members, or friend and feeling like you are more motivated than they are to see change happen?
Whether we want to see something change in our spouse, our children, another family member, in a friend, or anyone, we must learn to trust God to do the work of redemption and transformation, in His way and in His timing.
It was in that same counseling session that one of our counselors gently encouraged me with this, “Valerie, don’t forsake the blessing of your daily bread even as you wait for the promised land.”
That phrase has stuck with me and still convicts me even today when I am tempted to be impatient with the speed at which God is working in someone else’s life.
Recently, I read Lysa TerKeurst’s new book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget. In it she describes her journey of healing from the impact of her husband’s infidelity in their marriage and she shares personal insights and Biblical wisdom on how to forgive when we can’t forget what’s been done to us.
In one chapter she explains how for years it seemed like her husband, Art, was doing whatever he wanted and God didn’t seem to be intervening at all. She confesses how painful that can be when you feel like you are the one suffering while the person who is causing the pain seems to be thriving. However, she encourages her readers to hold on to hope because of this powerful truth:
We don’t serve a DO-NOTHING God. He is always working. With God, there is always a meanwhile.
Friends, this is a promise we can hold on to! This is truth that can give us hope in the midst of our despair and doubt, when we are afraid that nothing will change or wondering if God is doing anything. This is why I am encouraged by the scripture, “...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 1:6. We are all a beautiful, and sometimes messy, work in progress. But God is faithful!
God’s redeeming work in you is not going to look the same in someone else.
Here are a few things I am learning as I trust God to accomplish His will and His way in others:
- If you want change to happen around you, let change first begin in you. Humility goes a long way in helping us to be patient with someone else’s progress towards change. In Matthew 7:3 it says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
- Compassion, far more than criticism, will encourage action. Remind yourself that the person who has hurt or wronged you is made in the image of God, just like you are. Ask God to soften your heart with the same compassion that Christ has for you. Remember that even while we were still sinners and enemies of God, Christ loved and served us by dying for us. (Romans 5:8).
- Pray for them. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says,“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This may seem like a big ask, especially when we are the ones who have been wronged. However, Jesus calls His followers to live as He lived. Pray for their surrender. Pray for their humility. Pray for God to work miracles in their lives. And in doing so, you will be changed too!