“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help.” (Psalm 18:6 NIV)
One evening after an intense “discussion,” my husband, J. J., told me that no matter what he did or how hard he tried, it was never enough for me. He was right. I constantly found fault with him as a husband and as a dad.
But when he implied that I was impossible to please … well, that sent my already-out-of-control emotions reeling. I grabbed my coat and stormed out the front door. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks as I replayed our conversation in my head.
I was determined to figure out what J. J.’s problem was and get Jesus to fix him. So I started filing complaints against my husband in what you might call a prayer. And I finally heard myself—all the ugliness, all the anger. That’s when I realized, I need help. I needed God to help me figure out how—after seven years of a happy marriage—we had gotten to this ugly place.
Instead of just crying, I found myself crying out to God for help.
King David was much better at this than I was that day. He had a habit of crying out to God for help when he was in distress. One Bible scholar notes that the phrase, “‘In my distress’ refers, most probably, not to any particular case, but rather indicates [David’s] general habit of mind, that when he was in deep distress and danger he had uniformly called upon the Lord, and had found him ready to help.”*
That night, when I stopped talking and started listening, I sensed God showing me I wanted J. J. to make up for all the ways my dad had fallen short as a father to me and as a husband to my mom. Years as a child in a broken home with a broken heart had led to a significant sense of loss and deep disappointment. Yet, up to that point, I had never grieved the happily-ever-after that I longed for but didn’t have.
My unfulfilled hopes had become bitter expectations. I became controlling and critical, thinking that if I could get J. J. to be the husband and dad I wanted him to be, maybe my broken dreams could be put back together. But I was wrong. Instead of expecting my husband to make up for my losses, I needed to cry out to God with my hurts and call on Him for help.
Are there hurts that hold you hostage? Expectations no one could really ever meet? Need some help today? I know I do. And I know God is there, waiting for us to cry out to Him.
As I continued to process what had happened in my childhood and how it affected my marriage, I learned to ask God for help through each step of my healing journey. It took time, prayer, and courage, but God was my very present help.
By the way, I’m crazy about my husband. And so very thankful for that day several years ago when I finally asked the Lord for help.
Dear Lord, I need Your help, especially with _______________. Please show me where to start and be my help each step of the way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Hurts from your past can hold you hostage. God is there, waiting to heal you.
In what ways do you file complaints against your husband (or other loved one) in what you might call a prayer?
Determine if your hurts are too deep to heal without outside help. If they are, consider seeing a pastor or counselor.
Psalm 46:1; Deuteronomy 4:7
*Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983).
Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.