It’s almost frightening how quickly I embraced the thought. It was early evening, my husband home from work, and in the swirl of conversation and formulation of plans, I had a suggestion. It was something we could implement as a couple for the benefit of our marriage.
But we’d been down this road. Whether it was weekly date nights, nightly couple devotions, or co-reading an edifying book, we’d take it up with vigor and start down the path only to watch it fizzle, foiled by life’s interruptions.
So the thought came easily — What’s the use?
I embraced it, and kept quiet.
That same evening, though, the Lord made me uncomfortable with my posture. As I prayed and pondered, I realized that I was giving ground to the enemy. Instead of standing firm and looking to the Lord to shore up this area, I’d given up. Retreated. I may as well have announced that I would no longer occupy this ground in my marriage. “Here, enemy, you can have it.”
This Is War
In our cozy kitchens, amid roasted chicken and good conversation, how easy it is to forget that we’re in a war. We are daily assaulted by thoughts and suggestions that ease into our stream of consciousness. They fit the situation perfectly and bend to our way of thinking. So we welcome them, though they are meant for our destruction.
The warning is clear in the word of God. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but it is against an entire demonic force (Ephesians 6:12). Schemes are crafted against us, flaming arrows shot at will (Ephesians 6:11, 16). And many of those schemes and arrows target our thoughts — including what we accept as true.
I believed the lie that there was no use pursuing a course that could benefit my marriage. It would only sputter and fail in the end. Where was my shield of faith to extinguish that arrow? Why didn’t I assume a soldier’s stance? Where was my fight?
There is much about which we could be dismayed as we view the state of marriage and family in this country. We may even be dismayed at the state of our own marriage and family. But with respect to the latter especially, we do well to remember that we are called as soldiers of Christ and, as such, called to fight.
1. We Fight for Our Families by Standing Firm
As soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ, our posture need never be one of retreat. We know that we stand firm by clothing ourselves in the Lord’s armor and strength (Ephesians 6:10–20). We know we have been given everything we need to withstand an attack. But often the problem is in realizing that we are under attack.
I asked the Lord to show me what other areas I’d given up. One of my teens came to mind and I realized that I’d stopped praying about a particular issue. It was complex, ingrained, and the roots embedded so deep that I had apparently concluded — in hindsight — that it wouldn’t change. In my mind, this was simply the way things were. I was believing another lie. The truth is that God’s grace and power are well able to transform any situation.
Is there an aspect of your marriage in which you’ve given up because, What’s the use? Is there an issue with one of your children about which you’ve concluded, That’s just the way it is? Apathy is a flaming arrow. Its poison leads to a posture of retreat. We must learn to recognize such deadly thoughts and reject them. Rather than giving ground, we must stand firm in the Lord’s strength.
2. We Fight by Walking in Faith
When we see the reality of our marriages and families — patterns that have formed, habits that have persisted, dysfunction that has normalized — there is a temptation to walk by sight, to believe it will always be so. But that path weakens our resolve and renders us vulnerable to discouragement. Moreover, it paints a picture devoid of the spiritual reality.
Faith lifts our gaze above the earthly to a Savior who understands our weaknesses, strengthens us to endure, and renews our hope. Faith gives us fight. It reminds us that our own reality was once without hope, and yet, by the grace of God, we were saved and raised to new life. If the Lord can work a miracle of regeneration in our own hearts, surely he can work mightily in our marriages and families.
3. We Fight by Persevering in Prayer
If there is any area in which we should never give ground, it is prayer. Of course the enemy shoots the poison of apathy, such that we feel prayer is useless — because it’s such a powerful weapon in our arsenal.
Here is one of many promises that help us stand:
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14–15)
We can pray with confidence as we seek the Lord for the spiritual health and well-being of our marriages and families. And as we pray, we stand in faith and persevere, believing he will hear and answer.
By God’s grace, we will not give any ground. By his grace, we will fight well for our families.