Marital Discouragement, Bad Days, and Waiting

Our local Christian radio station sometimes has listeners call in to comment on what the station means to them, and one in particular always gets me – the caller that says that when she’s having a bad day the station always lifts her spirits. Psh, I think. She must not be spiritual enough. Anyone close to the Spirit should always be “high on God’s grace” because of what He’s done. How can anyone have a bad day (excepting extreme circumstances, of course)?

Ah, the spiritual arrogance behind that thought.

I’m learning that bad days come for no discernible reason, although I’m starting to be aware that while it might not be discernible to us, there is a spiritual dimension that we can’t see that is interacting with us all the time.  The enemy sees our successes and wants to destroy our joy – and guess what – when we have those discouraging days the last thing on our minds is praising God. Eventually, because we’re not focused on His holiness and grace, we succumb to guilt and suddenly our quiet time with our Lord is not so desirable to us.

The enemy has effectively disabled us then.

And I’ve been very guilty of it lately.

A few weeks ago I felt led to “sit” in the book of Ephesians for a while. One of the verses that I was really meditating on was 5:20 “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  At the time, even before my weeks of discouragement and my Really Bad Day, I was struck by this verse and meditated on it for some time. It says to praise God for all things – the bad as well as the good. As my dear friend pointed out to me lately, that includes my failures in the day!

What? 

Today was the latest in a series of discouraging days,  and I elected to go for a walk alone rather than stay inside. The first half of the walk was a disgraceful self-pity solo-fest, until I remembered the verse and my friend’s encouragement.

It’s really hard to praise God when you’re frustrated with Him. He hasn’t answered my prayers the way I wanted Him to. He hasn’t helped me with my personal sin issue the way I think He should. He hasn’t done all these things for me, and frankly I’m rather annoyed with Him.

Ah, the spiritual arrogance.

We praise God BECAUSE HE IS HOLY, and He is above us. While He cares for us deeply, our bad days do not take away our proper response to the Holy God of the universe, which is unending praise.

It’s not about us.

But the funny thing is, that when we learn how to praise Him through everything, we tap into that power that created us and lives in us and has the ability to defeat our battles.

Sometimes, like my recent experience, discouragement comes after a big battle – to save a marriage,  for example – even a year or more after. Sometimes that discouragement is in the form of “just not reaching that ideal stage of life” on our timeline. But, God doesn’t follow our timelines. And it’s in these periods of slow growth that He’s really refining us into who He created us to be.

Praise God, for Lord knows I can’t do that on my own!

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