April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year for reflection. And one of the notions I’ve been pondering is how often we can miss the joy of gratitude because we just don’t recognize God’s provision.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:16-17 NASB
James uses the word “every” gift is from above. So where you live is a gift. What you eat is a gift. Your job is a gift. Perhaps, if you don’t have a job, even your unemployment is somehow a gift. (Oh! I know that is hard to hear! I pray God would open your eyes to His hands on your circumstance to see it as good. Romans 8:28) And, for the focus of this article, your spouse is a gift.
Before my husband and I were married we went through a variety of pre-marital preparations. One of the books we read asked a question: Is this person God’s provision for you?
I wasn’t sure of anything about the road ahead of us, and because of the struggles I’d seen with other’s marriages, I was more than a little scared about what awaited us. But I was sure in my heart that God had provided Eric to be my husband.
I have a wonderful husband. And I try to be a good wife. That doesn’t mean we haven’t hurt one another or been disappointed with the other. But it does mean that at the end of the day, he is a good gift from the Father. And it means that no matter what, I am meant to be thankful for him.
I’ve heard lots of ministers say that it’s degrading to make God out to be a cosmic match-maker of sorts. But I suppose it might also be degrading to say He cares so much about His children He actually knows how many hairs are on their head (Matthew 10:30) and has collected their tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). I mean how could the Creator of heaven and Earth stoop that low (Psalm 116:1-2)?
If I am directed to thank the Lord for the provision of food, clothing, and shelter, why would I not view my spouse as a gift to be treasured above my Payless shoes? If the Lord created everything (Colossians 1:16), and designed you and me to be just the way we are with the very DNA that made your eyes that particular shade because of genes from your parents, it just seems to me that His vast handle on plans, from the large ones to the details, would include providing the person we would become “one” with before God (Matthew 19:5).
I know this flies in the face of many people’s opinions and perhaps the way they feel based on their own life. But for me personally, if I am honest with myself, when the day is done, if I am not grateful for my spouse as specific provision from God it’s because I’m holding something against him. My disappointments and bitterness can overshadow how I experience God’s “good gifts.” My frustrations can cloud joy and gratitude. And conversely, holding onto thanksgiving in my marriage can be a safeguard against those negative sentiments as well.
When I stop and remember the precious qualities of my man instead of rehearsing an irritation or a wounding comment, it seals the cracks in our love. When I make a conscious effort make sure my husband knows I appreciate him, not just what he does, but him for who he is, it bonds our hearts.
If we lose that view of our spouse as a provision from the Lord, it leaves us open to consider finding what we want elsewhere. Now, there are cases where the Lord wouldn’t require us to remain in a relationship, but the majority of marriages could be safeguarded by viewing each other and the marriage relationship as a gift from God. If marriage and our spouse are a gift from God then our relationship begins and ends with something bigger than us. If it is just about us, then it doesn’t hold much significance beyond our immediate happiness.
When you read the history of the Jewish people in the Old Testament, it was always when they thought they were in charge of their own destinies and that their own labors and choices provided their desires that they fell away from God. Thanklessness breeds cold hearts toward God and toward one another. Remaining connected to the reality that God provides everything for us, even down to the air in our lungs, (Daniel 5:23) keeps us thankful and protects us from the pride that breaks us in the end. That same pride can break a marriage too.
If you are married, you can sort through whether or not you want to believe the Lord provided that person for you. I know some days it might be harder than others. But if you are still looking for your match, you might remember that God provided a specific woman for Adam, Isaac, and Hosea. Proverbs 19:14 says, “House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Scripture tells us that God has written all the days of our life in a book before there was even one of them (Psalm 139:16).
So for me, I thank God for my husband. Because he is a good gift from my Father in heaven.
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