Originally published November 5, 2014
Let’s face it, Ladies, there are days when even the best of marriages* are just plain tough. Hubby’s in a bad mood and snaps at you. There’s no money in the budget for that thing you really want to buy. You’re feeling overworked, underappreciated, and beyond stressed. It can be all too easy to haul out the party hats and confetti, hunker down in the corner, and throw yourself one big “woe is me” bash. Have you ever stopped to think about whether or not it’s biblical to feel sorry for ourselves? Believe it or not, there’s not a single passage of Scripture that says it’s OK. So what does the Bible say about how to handle those times in our marriages when we want to indulge in self pity? Let’s find out.
1. Have the mind of Christ
But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
be conformed to the image of his Son, Romans 8:29
As Christians, Christ is to be the master of everything we are, not just our actions, but our thoughts and feelings as well. We are to act like Jesus, talk like Jesus, think like Jesus, and even feel like Jesus. Punished and executed for sins He did not commit, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”(Isaiah 53:3) Jesus had much more reason than you or I to feel sorry for Himself, but did He? Then, should we?
2. Have the attitude of Christ
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, Philippians 2:5-6
When we follow Christ, we adopt the same attitude towards others He had. Jesus was prepared for the fact that people He loved and served, even those closest to Him, would let Him down. Still, He loved them and forgave them. Your husband is a broken, sinful human being (just like you). He’s going to mess up. A lot (just like you). Being prepared for, and accepting, that fact (along with a healthy understanding of how many times you’re going to let him down) can help put things into perspective.
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7
Jesus put aside all of His rights to be served and esteemed and, instead, focused on serving others, even those who didn’t deserve it and were ungrateful. Instead of retreating into hurt the next time your husband blows it, what if you took a deep breath, put your rights aside, and did something to lovingly serve him?
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8
Jesus humbled Himself. He was so focused on obedience to God that He gladly gave up His life for people who hated Him. Often, our obedience only takes us to the edge of where we’re comfortable. What kind of impact would it have on your marriage if you had the same level of humility and obedience Christ had? How could that humility and obedience to Christ help ward off self pity?
3. Give thanks
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
It is not God’s will for you to feel sorry for yourself. It is God’s will for you to give thanks in all circumstances, including a lousy day in your marriage. If you can’t think of anything to be thankful for, tell that to God, and ask Him to show you things about your husband that you can thank Him for. Even if you have to start with the small things (Does he have good breath? Tie his shoes neatly? Floss semi-weekly?), start somewhere. You’ll be amazed at the way your perspective shifts from the negative to the positive as you thank God for your husband’s good qualities.
4. Be content
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Philippians 4:11
Whatever situation. Ever read about Paul’s little “whatever situations”? You can find some of them in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. I’m guessing you’ve never been shipwrecked or stoned, not to mention all the other things on his list, which, by the way, Paul wrote while he was in prison. Yet he said he had learned to be content. How? Paul found his contentment, not in his circumstances, but in Christ. Jerry McGuire not witstanding, your husband does not, will not, and cannot “complete you.” Only Christ can satisfy the deepest needs of your heart. When you lay hold of that, you will find true contentment. Your husband will let you down. Christ never will.
5. Rejoice in suffering
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-4
God wants to do something greater in you than just make you feel better in the moment. He has long range plans to grow you in endurance, character, and hope. That’s great news, and certainly cause for joy. So instead of directing your gaze inward, look down the road to where you’re more mature in Christ, and rejoice. God is at work on your heart. (And P.S.- Rejoicing will make you feel better in the moment, too. Pitying yourself will only make you feel worse.)
6. Put yourself aside and put your husband first
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
There’s that H-word again. Humility. When I read this passage, I think back to the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. The One to whom every knee will one day bow got down on His hands and knees and took on the disgusting task that normally fell to the lowest, least talented servant. If the God of the universe could put ahead of Himself these men whom He personally knit together in the womb, who would, in mere hours, deny and desert Him at the darkest time of His life, is He asking too much of us to put our husbands ahead of our hurt feelings?
7. Change your husband by changing your behavior
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:1-2
It seems counterintuitive. “Is your husband being an ungodly jerk? Don’t nag him or pout about it; submit to him with respectful and pure conduct.” The world would call this weakness and say you’re being a doormat. Quite the contrary. If you’ve ever tried putting this passage into practice, you know just how much strength it takes to do the godly thing when everything in you wants to strike back or retreat in self pity. To realize that, regardless of how your husband acts, you are responsible to God to do what is right in His eyes. But God’s word is full of paradoxes and counterintuitives. The question is, do we believe God when He says this is the way to win our husbands to godliness, and do we trust Him enough to obey His word?
Being a Christian wife pursuing growth in godliness is tough. It can seem impossible to forge ahead in obedience to Christ on those difficult days in your marriage when all you really want to do is retreat into that corner and whimper. But you have a Savior who understands your weaknesses, loves and cares for you deeply, and promises to give you the strength you need to do anything He calls you to.
Even the strength to take off the hat, sweep up the confetti, and say, “The party’s over.”
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.