Experiencing the languishing of your wife — your own flesh (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:6) — while you helplessly watch, is all at once incredibly sad, painful, scary, and frustrating. I can’t imagine the difficulty this season has brought you and your family.
“Show your wife hope when she feels like she has none, because you have hope in Christ.”
Sadness spreads over our souls because we are watching the one we love most on this earth retreat to a place of nearly indescribable pain and inescapable darkness.
Pain pervades our hearts because our most intimate spiritual partner is wounded. We wince at the sharp sting, just as we would if we were injured physically.
Fear creeps in because the depth of this dark place seems unending (Psalm 88). You might even fear that the woman who once shone beauty and delight may never return.
Frustration forms because you alone cannot be enough for her (1 Samuel 1:8), and the one you most dearly desire to please seems to find no pleasure at all.
More Than Right Words
You might be tempted to think that if you only had the right words you could somehow fix your wife’s dark night of the soul. And believe me, she would want nothing more. Indeed, you may feel the pressure (from yourself, her, and others) to be that quick fix for her.
But there are no magic wands, no silver bullets. Even the gospel may ring dull in her ears for now — that most glorious truth that the God of all creation would love her so much that he would send his only begotten and most dearly beloved Son to take on human flesh for her can fall flat. That the King of the universe took on the form of a servant, was tempted and tried yet remained perfect, was betrayed and beaten yet remained steadfast, and had the wrath of hell poured upon him and was killed so that we might have his righteousness may not stir her soul as you would hope.
Even those awesome gospel truths might seem dim to her, like a faded memory or distant dream.
Press On in Weakness
But don’t lose heart! Preach the gospel to her every single day — in thought, in word, and in deed.
Muster your courage and be determined to do nothing short of displaying the character of Christ to her hour-by-hour and moment-by-moment. And when you feel exhausted, run to the cross and receive the power of his all-sufficient grace, which gleams all the more brilliant in our greatest weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
“When you feel exhausted, run to Jesus and his grace, which gleams all the more brilliant in our greatest weakness.”
While you cannot talk her out of this dark place, you can lead her through it. By lead, I mean the out-front leadership to which we as husbands are called (Ephesians 5:25–27). Your wife needs someone to get behind while you storm the gates of hell together. She needs someone who’s willing to take up his cross daily for her, even when he’s at his weakest. She needs a husband who embraces the reality that only the grace of Jesus can sustain both of you in these darkened days.
- Show her hope when she feels like she has none, because you have hope in Christ (Hebrews 6:19).
- Give her mercy when she doesn’t deserve it, because you have mercy in Christ that you don’t deserve (Romans 3:24–25).
- Exhibit joy when she can’t find it, because you have joy in Christ (1 Peter 1:3–9).
- Display peace when she only knows trouble, because you have the peace of Christ (John 14:27).
- Demonstrate thankfulness when all she feels is bitter, because in Christ you’ve been given all things (Colossians 3:12–17).
- Model sanctification when she has no energy to fight sin, because you are sanctified in Christ (Romans 6:17–19).
- Offer her comfort when she is in distress, because you have received the Spirit of comfort through Christ (John 14:26).
Jesus Walks with You
And when you don’t — because sometimes you won’t (Romans 7:19) — remember that God’s loving and patient grace is for you as well (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Not even our own failures, accidental or purposeful, can keep us from the riches of love we have in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31–39). So, when hope seems lost and darkness appears to overtake the light, cling to the cross. When you feel terribly alone because the one who shares a bed with you seems like a stranger, cling to Jesus.
“The more you show your wife Christ, the more Christ will show himself to you.”
Jesus is your refuge, your rock, your strength, and your stronghold (Psalm 18:1–3). That old rugged cross is the place where you see your Protector, Deliverer, Redeemer, Sustainer, Brother, and Friend (2 Thessalonians 3:3; Romans 7:24–25; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:17; Romans 8:17; John 15:15).
See Christ so that you may show her Christ, my dear brother. And the more you show her Christ, the more Christ will show himself to you.
With Jesus, all things are possible (Philippians 4:13). Even bearing the burdens of your depressed spouse is possible. Jesus is with you as the three of you walk together — when you descend into the dark valley and when you eventually make it through to greener pastures and stiller waters.