Desert Places

by Vance Hardisty

Supporting your spouse during hard times

My health collapsed as my body went haywire. Wave after wave of adrenaline shot through me. It was the same feeling you get when someone jumps out from behind a corner and scares you – except I felt it over and over. I ate little, fought to sleep, fought to concentrate on work and asked the Lord many times what was happening to me. I was having a physical breakdown.

My wife couldn’t understand. She knew I was in pain. She could see I was desperate but had no idea how badly this desert experience would tear at my soul.

She had, however, promised to love me in sickness and in health. So she did. She loved me so successfully during this brutal time that she became the living evidence of God’s grace in my life. Instead of wreaking havoc between us, this time of struggle caused us to grow stronger, closer and more in love each day. When we finally emerged from this desert place, our marriage, family and relationship with God had matured more than we could ever have imagined.

If your spouse is in the midst of a trial, cling to God and try to understand more of what your partner is feeling. Here are a few things to remember:

  • No one, not even you, will fully comprehend what your mate is going through.
  • Your spouse may believe his time, talents and life are being wasted. He may see no reason, temporal or eternal, for any of the pain.
  • God may seem so silent that your spouse will think God has abandoned him. He may be convinced that this desert will never end.

You may be tempted to believe some of these things as well. Yet God has incredible plans for you and your spouse. No matter where He calls you, no matter how things look, you can trust Him to take care of you both. As this aspect of your faith develops and your confidence in your Saviour’s love grows, don’t be concerned if your loved one does not immediately share your feelings and can only see the darkness.

How can you strengthen your spouse by showing the love of God in the midst of it all? Here are seven suggestions:

1. Pray Without Ceasing. Pray for his spiritual, emotional and physical healing. Pray that he will trust God, that your marriage will grow stronger and that your children will learn how to handle tough times by watching you. Surround your mate, his work, his friends and everything he does with prayer.

2. Listen With Your Heart. When he rails at God, don’t condemn him. When he sounds hopeless, encourage him. When he needs a sounding board, work with him to discover what God is doing. Always be available. If he needs to talk things through over and over, be patient. Some problems have no solutions. Just be willing to listen.

3. Schedule Breaks For Yourself. Several times a week, make arrangements to get away from the situation. You don’t have to leave for long, but do something you enjoy, meet with friends, go somewhere – whatever is necessary to recharge yourself. Breaks will give you the strength and patience you need.

4. Absorb God’s Word. When all is dark, feed on the hope found throughout the Word of God. When you are tempted to doubt, the Holy Spirit will guide you. If you immerse yourself in Scripture, your counsel to your hurting mate will be based on the wisdom of God.

5. Find A Confidant. Choose someone spiritually mature who will listen, comfort and counsel you. When my wife met periodically with a woman like this and confided in her, my wife was careful never to betray me. She assured me that she never revealed personal details and never criticized me.

Your spouse knows he is hard to live with while in his desert place, and you certainly could complain about a wealth of things to your friends. Share your problems in general with a trusted friend or two. Don’t reveal your spouse’s weaknesses in a way that negatively portrays him. By not exposing your spouse, you will build the foundation of his trust in God and make your marriage rock solid.

6. Seek Professional Counselling. There may be situations that require professional intervention. Don’t be afraid to seek qualified help for you and your spouse.

7. Know God’s Plan For You Is Good. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Write out verses like this, and put them on your kitchen cupboards and bathroom mirrors. Saturate your mind with their truth.

The desert is God’s tool to prepare you and your mate for the future. Your mission? Grab hold of truth. Cling to it daily. Uplift your mate. Believe that when the two of you emerge from your trek through the desert, God will have two new leaders ready to fulfill the destiny for which you have been created.

Copyright © 2001, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.
International copy secured. Used by permission.