When Your Husband Is Struggling Spiritually

May 23, 2012 · 15 comments

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by Britney Hamm

That “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8) is especially good news for us when we consider the reality of our flighty hearts.

Our affections ebb and flow. Our passion for Christ surges and then dwindles.

Sometimes we feel like a dry desert, lacking the intimate adoration for Christ that should flow out of our understanding of his Word.

Sometimes we feel like we’re walking by a serene brook, where everything is calm and beauty is easy to see.

Sometimes we feel like a dusty library of books, filled with lusterless academic knowledge bereft of joy.

Sometimes we feel like we’re flying, caught up in the thrill & joy of walking with Jesus in the truth of his word.

Sometimes we feel like we’re in a dark cave filled with brokenness and pain with no foreseeable exit.

Sometimes we feel like we’re in a forest of weariness, struggle, and pain in which rays of sunlight bring us joy as the reassuring presence of the Holy Spirit to carries us through.

Praise God that neither our salvation nor our sanctification depends upon our emotion, passion, or circumstances!

We may go through that entire range of feelings all in a single morning, and certainly we experience all of this over the course of a lifetime!

And yet God’s faithfulness remains the same.

While some of these experiences are difficult to endure personally, I think it’s even harder to watch your husband walk through the hard places. At least it is for me.

Perhaps you, like me, are flooded with questions such as these:

What do I do when my husband has lost his passion for Jesus in one of these seasons? What do I do when my husband is weary from all of the brokenness and pain? How do I respond when I hear my husband preaching the gospel to others daily, but I see what no one else sees—the message of the gospel has ceased to revive and rejuvenate his own heart? What do I do when my husband just isn’t “feeling it” when it comes to his spiritual walk? How will this affect our family? Our marriage? How do I lovingly hold him accountable when sin is creeping in through the back door and he’s not seeing it or repenting of it?

I’ll tell you one thing you can’t do: you can’t pretend your husband’s spiritual depression does not affect you, because it does. You can’t shrug it off as “just his problem.” Your husband’s spiritual struggles do affect your family. He’s your one flesh. His spiritual vitality is your concern too.

You love him more intimately than any other person on the planet. It breaks your heart to see him struggle.

You long to see him filled with joy and love for Jesus again. You’re concerned about the enemy crouching at the back door ready to entangle him in sin of who knows what kind.

So what do you do?

First, before you “do” anything, you start with trusting God and clinging to the truths of Scripture. Then, by God’s grace, you walk by faith, letting God’s word deal with your own heart along the way.

This is a subject that is close to my heart, and I’ve experienced joy as God has grown me and my husband closer to himself and to each other. The first thing I need to remember and rejoice in is this:

God says, “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11). I cannot be my husband’s savior.

No amount of nagging, smothering, giving him books to read, or asking friends to encourage him can ultimately bring him out of spiritually-dry periods in his life.

Remember that the Lord, and the Lord alone, is your husband’s Savior. If your husband is a Christian, then his salvation rests secure in the work of Jesus Christ. Only God could save him from the pit of destruction eternally, and only God can rescue him from the spiritual caves, deserts, and dusty libraries throughout his life.

The second thing I need to remember is that God’s faithfulness to sanctify my husband does not ultimately depend on my husband’s faithfulness.

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

God promises to sanctify those who believe in Christ as Lord and Savior. Period.

Just as God is the author of salvation, so he is the author of our growth in holiness. As our salvation does not rest on our faithfulness but his, so it is with our sanctification.

Just because your husband is going through a hard time spiritually does not mean the process of sanctification has been derailed.

Sanctification is a lifelong process…and a guaranteed promise.

Not only will the Lord sanctify your husband, he will protect him against Satan. “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (1 Thess. 3:3). Your husband may fall into sin. He may be discouraged and depressed. He may seem broken beyond repair. But he will not be lost to the evil one. The Lord is faithfully guarding him against the evil one.

Who better to guard him than the one who rose from the grave triumphant over evil? When Jesus rose from the grave he conquered sin. He walked away with the victory. His power reigned supreme.

That same power has tight hold on your husband. When your husband is defenseless, God is his defense.

No matter how bad it gets, the All-Powerful Lord is his shield. The Good Shepherd does not lose his sheep. He will not lose your husband.

Sisters, let your hearts rejoice in these truths. Let them free you as you feel the weight of trying to rescue your husband lifted off your shoulders. Let them comfort you as you rest in knowing that God will sanctify your husband. Let them calm your anxiety as you picture the God of the universe guarding your husband against the evil one.

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ABOUT THE WRITER
Britney lives in Missouri with her campus missionary husband, Travis, and their blue-eyed baby Ambrielle. Brit is a former dancer who had horse jockey aspirations and played street hockey. Her well-rounded interests also include theology, chocolate, disciple-making, and ballroom dancing. But her favorite thing to talk about is how God breaks into our lives with His grace.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Aimee Byrd May 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm

This is an interesting topic, Britney. Thank you for addressing it with such biblical clarity. Wired as we are to be a good helper to our husbands, we can easily fall into thinking that we can also function as their savior. Thank goodness that is not the case!

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2 Tim May 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Britney, I love how you put this:

“Just as God is the author of salvation, so he is the author of our growth in holiness. As our salvation does not rest on our faithfulness but his, so it is with our sanctification.
Just because your husband is going through a hard time spiritually does not mean the process of sanctification has been derailed.”

Long ago I gave up the notion of trying to be my family’s savior. I stunk at it anyway, so giving it up wasn’t that hard. Like you said, God is the one who is doing the sanctifying in my life and theirs, and he’s promised to finish the job. (Phil. 1:6.)

And from a husband’s point of view, it sounds like you are doing things just fine as the one who comes alongside Travis.

Blessings,
Tim

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3 Britney May 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Aimee and Tim, thanks for the encouragement. Tim-I wish I could say I am perfectly living out all that I wrote all the time, but that’s a far cry from the truth. It’s much easier to know and write truth than practice it! I am learning (slowly) how to respond in these Christ-centered ways, but I am too often prone to a much less godly response. Thank God for His grace that continues teaching and shaping me!

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4 Tim May 25, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Britney, I am painfully aware that I am not a perfect husband, and I know my wife – as wonderful as she may be – is not perfect either. Yet we do well supporting one another, and there have been some extreme opportunities for us to be there for one other over the last two and a half decades. Easy? No. Worth it? Yes!

I bet Travis is finding the same in your marriage too.

Tim

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5 Betsy May 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm

With tears in my eyes, I praise God for His timing in directing me to hear His Word through you. Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you in your writing.

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6 Sarah H. May 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I got here through a Facebook post on a different topic, but the Lord knew this was really what I needed to read. I am bookmarking it for days when I am discouraged. As a woman who desperately wants her husband to be the spiritual leader in our home, this is so valuable for me to remember and learn. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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7 Britney May 26, 2012 at 12:03 am

Betsy and Sarah, I’m so thankful that God in His infinite wisdom timed this article for you. It’s been in progress for months-yet He knew when it would be posted. Praying His strength and wisdom to you both in your marriages, and that you will find Him joyfully sufficient whatever you are going through.

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8 Jamie July 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm

AMEN!!!! Thank You. this brings so much peace to a very long struggle . Bless you!

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9 LBH October 22, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I am a husband currently going through a spiritual wasteland and I really appreciate your post. Recently in my life I have had several events that have overwhelmed my sensative, introverted spirit. As I am trying to understand it, my grief has consumed me and subsequently I feel as though my faith is gone. I feel nothing for God, and in fact, He somewhat repulses me. Of course, I have guilt for this piled on top of my already great struggle. This does greatly effect my wife and kids as she is in the process of wanting to become more active in our church with our kids. I love her for it and appreciate all she is doing. She is coping well and trying to understand and be patient with my struggle. But it is all I can do to show up for Sunday service and survive a message. This is a struggle I would not wish on my worst enemy. It is deep and dark like the cave you described; full of pain and brokeness with no foreseeable exit. I am in the process of seeking professional counsel as well as doing all the self help I can. What I feel I need more than anything in this process is the unconditional love from my wife and much patience. I have a greater need to feel loved and the perceived pressure to fix things quickly only adds to my stress and anxiety. I was actually turned off by a recent pastors message about spiritually struggling that said to basically “do, do, and do more.” I am trying not to being critical, but sometimes, in my opinion, there is a process of healing that says it is ok to slow down, step away, get help, and heal at a pace condusive to one’s temperament (again, I am a deep introvert so my process is slow). Perhaps this is where I clash a bit with the very outward evangelical church, but that is probably a whole separate topic. Again I appreciate your post and sharing your wisdom. Also, thanks for the related links.

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10 Gloria October 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm

LBH, thank you for sharing your story and for your honesty in your struggles. What a grace from the Lord you have in your wife. I’m thankful that God used this article to encourage your soul!

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11 Lori October 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm

My husband Robert is totally falling apart spiritually, he’s not working, depressed & says he can’t feel Jesus anymore! We are both fairly new Christians, he is three years as a Christian & I am four years. We’ve been married a year & a half, we met in church & feel God truly brought us together. Sunday night spirits took over & caused a HUGE fight, my husband told me to leave. On the advice of a brother in Christ I stayed with them that night. My husband says he still loves me but doesn’t think we should stay together. He says he’s a messed up looser. Please pray God WILL keep us together!!! I love him so much & I made a commitment to him & God! I won’t give up!!

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12 Gloria October 31, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Lori, I’ve just prayed for your marriage and will continue to pray that you do not cease to grow weary in doing good to your husband. I was glad to read that you are receiving counsel from the other Christians in your life. – Gloria

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