FUELED BY HOPE FOR HUSBANDS
One of the painful realities of life is that relationships often struggle as people navigate through their God-given roles within the world, workplace, and home. Whether it be politicians who cannot keep promises, employers who act unjustly, or relatives who do not meet our expectations – our interpersonal relationships are often suppressed by the constant reality that we’re all broken and a work in progress.
But what should one do when the progress is slow, one’s role is resisted, and we’re left looking for answers that it seems will never come? How does a faithful Christian find hope in the struggle of fractured and unhealthy relationships? Such is the process for many Christian women who long for their husbands to know the Lord and lead their families.
And this is not uncommon or new. Throughout the history of the church, the presence of women has always been consistent. Women are often mentioned as those following Christ and, when one considers the social context of male/female roles within society of biblical times, it’s striking how often women are mentioned as those near Jesus and serving in the early church. It’s no wonder then that still today women make up a majority of those who actively attend are serve within local churches. With the failure of both men and women to play their God given roles comes the opportunity for loneliness, bitterness, and hopelessness. And for these, God offers encouragement.
Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter’s first letter to the churches lays out instructions for both men and women as to how to navigate the tricky relationships in a broken and fallen world as broken and fallen people:
“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” – 1 Peter 3:1-2 NASB
The text first instructs women to be submissive to their husbands. In an age in which this word, to many, is almost painful to say (much less to practice), we must understand what this means within the context of the Bible. God has specifically designed roles within the family and put forward those for the context of Christian homes (Eph. 5:22–6:4, Col. 3:18-25). Contrary to popular thought, the idea of submission is not one to be avoided, but embraced. It does not imply that the one submitting is less significant or a level below in spiritual maturity. This is clearly pictured in Christ’ own submission to the Father, Whom, though He is equal with in divinity and power, willingly submits to His Father’s will as an expression of loving union and unbreakable oneness (Phil.2:5–9, John 6:38, 1 Cor.15:28). A wife’s submission does not mean agreeing with everything, checking one’s brain at the front door, living in fear, or receiving personal fulfillment in the husband – only Christ offers that; which is why He is the head of His people. As the husband should submit to Christ, so the wife should submit to her husband, and in doing so she should see and love Christ more (Eph.5:22–25).
This is important to grasp as women navigate through the oft tricky situations of being a Christian wife and mother. In regard to the topic if being a believing woman with an unbelieving spouse, one must remain obedient to the Scriptures for the sake of God’s glory. In fact, Peter builds his argument on the idea that the woman’s behavior and love for her husband would continually be pointing her husband to God. The woman is a missionary to both husband and children! In a sense, as she loves and respects her husband, the husband’s heart may be tenderized to the love of God that he sees in his bride. A wife’s persistent love, support, affirmation, prayers, and pleads for a man to come to Christ as she models faithful Christianity has often been the channel by which men come to the Lord. This gives great reason for hope! As John Piper says, “Holy women are fueled by hope.”
While being the spiritual leader within the home is no easy task, women are often forced into this role and endure frustration and loneliness amid the burden of raising children as the example of Christian living alone – something that no person, male or female, should have to carry alone.
Yet, it is often in our struggling that Jesus makes Himself known as we further understand our dependence on Him and view Him for Who He is: the only one who can fulfill us and meet our high standards for love and acceptance. Whether one’s husband is an unbeliever, uncommitted, or the second coming of Billy Graham – the man cannot and will not satisfy the deepest longings of a woman’s heart and care for her anywhere close to the way in which an ever-present all loving Savior does. The wife can rest assured that Jesus is well acquainted with the grief and sorrow brought on by sinners, even among those whom He died for (Isa.53:1–6, 1 Peter 2:21–24).
Godly women will persist in the faith with or without their husband; but in so doing should pray for their husbands, mourn over spiritual indifference, be patient in suffering, rejoice in trial, and find hope in the reality that God is sovereign and that their persistent example of godliness may lead their husband to the true Man– whom we all need.
Pastor Adam Denny