“Behold, I have created the blacksmith Who blows the coals in the fire, Who brings forth an instrument for his work; And I have created the spoiler to destroy. – Isaiah 54: 16
There are many articles and blog posts from good, Christian wives instructing other women on submission to Christian husbands. It is often assumed that this material is aimed at teaching women whose husbands are actively following the Lord Jesus Christ, engaged in regular reading of the Bible and personal bible study, and actively engaged in a vibrant prayer life with the Lord. Since many posts are written toward this end, it is generally unmentioned that these “good, strong, Bible-reading, Leading Men” of Christian wives and families CAN, and often DO, get overtaken in the struggles of daily life – and become very difficult to live with for a season!
Even the strongest Christian man, leader and father is still simply another human being. A human being with frailties and a Blind Side just like the rest of humanity. It is imperative that we not only teach women how to love and follow and submit to their strong believing husbands when all is well…but that we also teach women how to gird up their husbands in prayer and love them, follow them and continue to submit to them – when they don’t look like Christian husbands to us at all.
Anyone reading this blog is likely to be familiar with Agent Smith of the film, The Matrix. The license plate of Agent Smith is indicative of a reference to Isaiah 54:16, written above. Sometimes, well-meaning, loving, dedicated and strong leaders – men of God – are morphed from this state into a state of confusion brought about by the enemy of our souls. At times like these, we wives may be extremely confused, hurt and even depressed – wondering why our loving husband suddenly acts like the enemy. Our husbands may say things they do not mean in anger (not aimed at us) and frustration with circumstances; they may be short-tempered. They may be lacking severely in “fruits of the Spirit” and they may be displaying the polar opposite of every loving characteristic mentioned in The Love Chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. They may resort to behaviors long since abandoned: drinking too much, spending more time on themselves than with you or the children, withdrawing and not speaking. They may speak abusively and harshly.
It can be awfully difficult to love, honor and submit to someone acting like Agent Smith (temporarily). If you recall from The Matrix, however, there were times when Agent Smith took over someone’s persona and they had absolutely no knowledge of such: they were blinded and totally deceived.
Ladies, it is absolutely necessary that we remain in obedience to the Word of God on all matters as wives, even if our husbands are temporarily acting like Smiths. We must take this opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our own hearts, and upon our own character: we must allow the Blacksmith to blow upon the fire that rages in our marital circumstances, and remain a good witness for a Christian and a wife to our own husbands, our children, and other women who are watching and trying to learn. Not a one of us is perfect this side of heaven, but we must lean on Jesus to keep us afloat and obedient as wives when chaos seems to reign in our husband’s life.
Here are a few helpful suggestions for ladies who are struggling with stressed-out Christian husbands, although this can certainly apply to wives of husbands who are “backslidden” entirely and not at all serving Christ at this time:
- It is of utmost importance that you remain humble during these times. Remember, your husband has likely put up with you being short, rude, disrespectful, uncaring, sexually selfish, generally selfish, and emotionally unstable and the like at some point during your relationship. Remember that you must not wear “rose colored glasses” when looking at yourself and a bifocal readers when looking at HIM! You must apply humility and realize that you have good points and serious flaw just like he does.
- Prayer is imperative. Let it not be just “Lord, make my husband behave himself!” prayers, but rather prayers that allow and ask God to change YOUR heart toward your husband, and ask God for more love and more respect for this man who is your husband. Also, of course, prayers to strengthen your husband and shield him from any attack of the enemy are worthy and necessary.
- Keeping a comfortable home and preparing comforting meals on time can bring peace to his state of temporary chaos. Just make sure to ask him what he prefers especially frequently during these times, as he can be very sensitive about seemingly unimportant matters such as what’s for dinner.
- Keeping a clean home and disciplined children is very important. Undisciplined children can be more chaos than he knows what to do with. Try quiet activities and follow your husband’s lead: you may be trying to keep children away from him, when he truly wants more time with them to distract him and bring him joy!
- Keep yourself sexy. We all know what this means, ladies. It is particularly easy to fall prey to the enemy’s scam toward YOU when your husband is acting strangely, and begin to think that you will “show him!” by lounging around in robe and slippers with Ponds face cream on all day…DON’T! Try to at least do one thing that is pleasing to him visually with your appearance, even if you are stressed-out as well!
- If he wants to have sex, have sex. Again, we all know what God has to say about this. Now, before I get blasted for saying that a woman should agree to have sex while she’s totally resentful and angry: GET OVER IT. Sex can bring healing to these emotions if a woman will allow (within marriage). Of course, if your husband is insanely drunk and not capable of having sex, even though he wants it – I would personally not refuse in this instance and hope for the best. I think it goes without saying that sex can relieve stress for our husbands and bond them to us again; further, God is all for it. It’s NEVER abusive to give sex to your husband. Obviously, if he is truly hurting you – say “ouch!” and let him know. He doesn’t want to hurt you. He can then adjust things.
- Avoid the temptation to speak ugly things to him in return, or to engage in battle with him. If he’s picking a fight over things long since resolved, saying less is saying more. Remember we are called to live quiet lives before our husbands with gentle spirits. We are called to respect his POSITION as husband even if we do not temporarily respect his BEHAVIOR or actions toward us. This too shall pass, and you don’t want to add fuel to a fire. If you have a temper, or are prone to “reacting” to him when he’s angry or short with you – this is your opportunity to allow God to mature your tongue and your own character.
- Do not take things that he says or things that he does personally. Women are relational and we are most impacted by our marriage relationship/family relationship if something is awry. Reject the temptation to take things personally if your husband is stressed; he needs you to be a soft landing spot, not someone he has to hold together as well as himself! He has enough on his plate. Put on your big girl panties, ladies. You are women of God, not little girls playing house. Be his support – love him through this time. Give him space to breathe without him having to worry about your emotions!
- Resist the urge to call ANYONE to complain about your husband or cast him in a bad light. We are called to make him look GOOD at the city gates. Always. Talk to Jesus about your weakness and frustration, and if you need truly pure prayer, call your Titus II mentor and no one else.
Hopefully this helps us to keep our focus on what we need to work on in ourselves, and maintain our focus on Jesus during times of trial and hardship in our husband’s lives. Before long, through prayer and strength in the Holy Spirit, your husband will overcome the enemy and be better for it, more equipped than ever! Practice forbearance with your husband during his times of stress and Smiths!
English Standard Version (ESV)
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.