Marriage Vows

Ruth 1:17b

“May the LORD deal with me, be it ever severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”

Although this was what Ruth said to her mother-in-law Naomi (after Ruth’s husband died and Naomi urged her to leave her and go back to her own people), it makes me wonder, “What would a marriage be like if we have this determination to stay together and work things out with the utmost loyalty?” (Note that we are not talking about domestic abuse or unrepentant adultery here.)

Relationships are hard, marriages are hard, but life is not easy in general. God wills a husband and wife to remain in a marriage for His redemptive purposes, to reveal the sins in our hearts, and use this challenging and sometimes difficult environment to change us to be more like Christ. That’s why He says in Mark 10:9, “‘Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.'”

In Christ, we have hope, even when things look impossible. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) Cling to Jesus and allow Him to work in and through you. Do not give up.

Emotions are Powerful

Judges 15:3

“Samson said to them, ‘This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.'”

When Samson’s wife betrayed him (at their wedding banquet), by manipulating him into telling her the answer of his riddle given to her people (the Philistines), and telling her people the answer so Samson lost the game/bet. He got so angry that he left his newly-wed wife and went back to his father’s home. His father-in-law thought that he hated his wife so he gave her to his best man (Judges 14: 20, 15:2) When Samson later came back to find his wife, he found out about this, and that’s when he said those words in verse 3, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” He went on to destroyed their fields, shocks, standing grain, vineyards, and olive groves. His anger was really burning, and he wanted revenge to do real harm.

What happened then? The Philistines burned his wife and her father to death! (v.6) So Samson said, “Since you’ve acted like this, I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” (v.7) And he killed many of them. So they pursued him and was about to attack Judah to get him (v.9) What a vicious cycle!! We can understand why Samson would feel angry in his situations, but we also see the tragic consequences of his behaviors in anger. Probably none of those later tragedies would have happened if he didn’t leave his wife at their wedding banquet and went away in anger, without explaining anything to her or her father.

How often do we feel and do similar things? “You make me so angry, so I will fight and attack back to get you. I will make you hurt too, and even worse because you deserve it!” “You make me so angry and hurt, so I have the right to be silent and not talk to you, for as long as I want! I am going to punish you with this silence and distance between us!” Thoughts likes these are not uncommon to us, and we feel so innocent and justified. The EXB translation of Judges 15:3 says, “But Samson said to them, ‘This time ·no one will blame me [I am justified/blameless/innocent] for hurting you Philistines!'” What a vivid picture of our hearts in anger sometimes. No wonder God warns us that, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” (Proverbs 29:11) If we pick up a mirror and look into it in those moments, we see a fool giving full vent to their rage.

Psalm 37:8-9 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” It encourages us to remain obedient to the Lord’s commands in our anger, and look to Him and His grace, instead of looking to what we are not getting and letting our emotions control us so that we become a slave to them. God is faithful. The truly wicked will be destroyed by Him. Our job on earth is to shine for Him and bring many to Him. Let us not let strong emotions control us or let our hearts deceive us. May God help us to trust Him even when we are wronged and hurt, and help us to learn from Jesus and to love people even when we are not loved back, like how we were loved so much by God that He sent His only Son to die for us in order to save us, when we didn’t acknowledge him and despised his holy name (Romans 5:8).

God Remembers and Acts on Our Behalf

Judges 9:56-57a

“Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. God also made the men of Shechem pay for all their wickedness.”

In Judges 9, we read the story that Gideon’s son Abimelech wanted to be king, so he persuaded the people of Shechem to support him, who helped him murder his seventy brothers (9:24). In verse 23-24, we read, “And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers.

Our soul deeply groans when we are sinned against, and justice seems no where to be found when the wicked person who has sinned against goes on living without harm or punishment, especially when they continue to sin against us over a long period of time. But remember, God sees all things and remembers all the evil they have done. His words are true, when He says, “Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished, but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.” (Proverbs 11:21) He has assured us, “‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.'” (Deut. 32:35) Let’s not repay evil for evil, but submit our sufferings to the hands of the Lord, who is faithful to all His promises, who sees our pain and is on His way to deliver us. He acts on our behalf.

 

How to Love When It’s Difficult

Hebrews 4:14-16
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Jesus has warned us beforehand, “In this world you will have trouble.” but he has also given us the answer to our suffering, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” so that “in me you may have peace.” Life is hard, life in Christ might even be harder, the difference is that our sufferings are not without hope. Christ, our Lord has overcome the world, and we are over-comers in him.
Facing temptations and trials, our own strength and wisdom always fail us, but God allows them to test our hearts and turn our eyes to him, knowing that He is the source of all wisdom, strength, and grace. Without looking to Him, we cannot love others well, especially those who sin against us. If we are not looking to Him, we will quickly look to ourselves, and define love base on what we have received, how well we have been treated (the way we want to be treated). Then we make a mental decision if the other person is lovable or not, and we lose sight of God completely, with no pursuit of holiness. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
How do we love when things are difficult? Let’s first turn to the source of all pure love, draw near to the throne of grace, and learn from Him, remembering how he kneels down to wash his disciples’ feet even though he knows that they would use those same feet to run away and deny him the next day (when he is dying for them!) remembering how he is willing to die for us on the cross so that we could be reconciled to God and have eternal life. He is good and faithful, and will give us mercy and grace to help us journey through the difficult times in life. He will sustain us and grow us to love like Jesus, the One who sees all our flaws and sins and loves us still to the end by giving us all he has.

From Anxiety to Peace

Psalm 94:19

“When anxiety was great within me,

your consolation brought joy to my soul.”

When we are overwhelmed with anxiety, and even panic attack, nothing releases it from the root, except the peace in Jesus Christ. The world, the flesh, they bring anxiety, but the Lord, our Savior, He brings peace. He comforts us in Spirit, and clams down the storm in our soul, raising our eyes from the waves in the sea to the heaven above, where His throne is established forever, and His love draws our hearts to Him in trust and in hope, encouraging us to loosen our grip on the things that we hold dear in life, and raise our hands toward Him in joy. There, He reigns in us, and peace comes.

The Compassionate Lord

Mark 8:1-3, 8

“…Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus…said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already bene with me three days and have nothing to eat…they will collapse…because some of them have come a long distance’…The people ate and were satisfied.”

This passage teaches how compassionate Jesus is toward those who follow and seek him. It’s the same for our spiritual journey. Sometimes we get faint-hearted after trying to stand in trials and our hearts might feel empty or extremely anxious or fearful facing the ‘giant’, like the people who would collapse in this story if they did not receive grace from God, and Jesus would not let us go on that way. He has compassion on us. It teaches us to endure in hardships, trusting that Christ will come to help and deliver us, in a real and practical way, just like how he fed the four thousand with food. Jesus is our Manna in the wilderness. He will come and feed us, and we will eat and drink from his fountain of life and be satisfied. He is faithful to his promise.