Finding Strength

As I cleaned my wedding ring this week, I thought about my thirty years of marriage. I once heard someone say that each marriage will experience a level of satisfaction that ranges on a scale from one to ten, with ten representing feelings of joy whereas one is barely hanging on. During this last week, I think my marriage hit almost every number on that scale.

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How do we do it? Get up, go to work, handle problem after problem, go home, take care of the kids, give our spouse a hug and a kiss, go to bed, get up, and do it all over again? Many of us feel like we aren’t doing it well. It is hard work to maintain a healthy marriage, stay involved with our children, take care of the household demands, and be productive at work. It can feel overwhelming, too much.

It hasn’t helped that I have been under the weather this last week. I wasn’t sick with a fever, I just felt achy and had a mild headache. Not sick enough to stay home in bed, and yet not quite up to doing all my normal responsibilities. I could see things slip through the cracks and felt guilty. This brings me back to my original question, “How do we do it?” Or, better yet, “How do I do it all?”

I found a wonderful answer to this question at the end of 1 Samuel (by the way, I am now done with another book of the Bible as I forge ahead on my “slow” plan of reading through it!). David and his men have been turned back from fighting alongside of the Philistines and set home. As he approached Ziklag, his temporary refuge from mad King Saul, he and his men discovered their village has been burned and the women and children taken captive. It moved me to read that David and his men “wept aloud until they had no more strength to weep” (1 Samuel 30:4). Sometimes I feel like that.

What did they do next? David’s men took action in one direction while David headed in another, yet, the outcome was dramatically different.

David’s men began to blame and looked for a scapegoat. They felt betrayed and misled, and began to talk about stoning David for his poor leadership. Bitterness ruled their hearts. I recognize this response. How many times I have looked for someone to blame when trouble strikes?

David, however, made a very different decision. After crying until he could cry no more, David “found strength in the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:5b).

There it is— the answer. God.

David first allowed himself to have a normal emotional reaction to a terrible situation. He was overwhelmed with grief and pain. I can take comfort in this example. It is okay to have a reaction when facing difficulty. But, David didn’t let his emotions rule him and drive him to bitterness; instead, he turned to God and found comfort.

As I finished cleaning my wedding ring and admired its shine, I was reminded that just like David, I too need to depend on God for everything: including the challenges in my marriage, with my kids, and at the office. Life certainly will bring every tick on that ten-point satisfaction scale, yet God is present and willing to be my strength, whether I am feeling overjoyed or am barely hanging on.

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