Stop Wishing for a Great Marriage

Do you wish you had a great marriage? Is it your desire to grow stronger as a couple and to glorify God through your relationship for life?

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” – 1 John 5:14-15

Sabra wrote a post in November entitled “Stop Trying and Start Training to Have a Beautiful Marriage.” She makes the point that there is a big difference between trying to have a good marriage, and doing the training–the work necessary–to have a good marriage. If you have not read that post or cannot recall it, I suggest you read it before you read mine. You can find it here.

This week, I write about understanding the difference between two other words. This understanding is essential if we are to have the marriage God desires for us. Those two words are “wish” and “trust.”

Over my years as a pastor and biblical counselor, I have talked to many couples who have wished they had a better marriage. But as my dad used to say to me when I was a child: “Wishing won’t make it so.”

What will give us the marriage God wants for us? Let’s answer that question.

The word “wish” means “to have a desire for something unattainable.”* It is, in other words, something we would like to see happen but believe it never will. So it is not very hopeful to say we wish to have a good marriage.

The word “trust” is defined as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Now, that is a very hopeful word. It is something we would like to see happen and have confidence it will.

Which word would you rather see applied to your marriage? If you desire a joyful marriage, it had better be the second word.

The key is the latter part of the definition of trust. It says “the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone.” That someone–when it comes to our marriages–is God.

We can’t just wish we’ll have the marriage God wants for us. We must trust Him. We must trust His promise that we will have that marriage if we follow His Word.

I recently read through the Gospel of Mark. I came across a passage with a very similar lesson that I think applies to marriage. It teaches us the difference between wishing and trusting.

The passage is Mark 9:21-24: “Jesus asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has he been like this?’ ‘From childhood,’ he answered. 22 ‘It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’ 23 ‘If you can’? said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’ 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” (bold mine).

The key words used here are “if” and “can.” But the idea is the same as “wish” and “trust.” The definitions of these words tell us what this father was saying to Jesus. In essence, he was saying, “…in the event that you are able to do this thing that I am requesting of you.”

Jesus’ response is not what we might expect. He appears to be dismayed by the uncertainty of the father’s answer. He is also concerned about the uncertainty regarding His ability by His own followers–the disciples.

This is because of what we read in Mark’s account leading up to our key verses for this week. We read in Mark 9:14-20:

“When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16 ‘What are you arguing with them about?’ he asked. 17A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.’ 19 ‘You unbelieving generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.’ 20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth” (bold mine).

How Jesus responds to the man teaches us much for our lives and marriages.

First, do we really trust Jesus’ Word?  If we read something in the Bible, do we truly believe it?  Are we convinced of His ability and willingness to do what He promises in His Word?

Jesus’ disciples had been listening to His teaching and seeing it lived out day and night for some time. Yet they still did not have the faith and trust that anything could be done in this situation. No wonder Jesus was upset.

Are we any different?

Second, when we go through a difficult time, do we turn to Jesus and pray His Word in complete confidence in Him?

Do we believe the promise of His Word that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28)? Do we fully trust His promise: “‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5)? Do we pray and “say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me’” (Hebrews 13:6)?

We have this promise from God in 1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

James tells us to pray confidently when we pray for God’s will to be done.

We read in James 1:5-8:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

Third, do we trust God and His Word enough to act on what He tells us to do?

We read about this in James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Do you wish to have the marriage God wants for you? Then you must learn what He tells you will bring that marriage. But you can’t stop in knowing—you must also do what He says.

We can wish to have a great marriage all we want. But when we start trusting God, then we will  begin to see how great our marriage will become.

Stop wishing. Start trusting. It makes all the difference.

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QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

♦   Read this week’s teaching together. Discuss what things God has taught you that you can apply now and in the days to come.

♦   Discuss your Bible study and prayer life together. Are both of them an important part of your life as individuals and as a couple? When you have a decision to make or are facing a difficult situation do you look to God’s Word for the answers? Do you pray together about it?

♦   Do you trust God enough to believe that He will answer your prayers? Do you really believe that however He answers your prayer will be what’s best for you?

♦   Commit to each other that you will seek God’s answer to whatever you are currently facing or whatever may come in the future. If there is something right now that you need His help with, turn to His Word to begin finding those answers. A concordance will help you find Scriptures that apply to your issue. Some good concordances can be found at biblestudytools.com/concordances.

♦   Close your time in prayer together. Ask God’s help in trusting Him and seeking His guidance in everything you face. If there is something you need to seek His help with right now, do so. He is always available and ready to respond.

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Next week, we will discuss another truth from God’s Word for our marriages.

Until then, may God bless you and your marriage in all His wonderful ways,
David

* All definitions in this teaching are from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
All Scripture is from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by jill111 via pixabay.com (CC0), cropped/text added.

About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.