Image Helper - Mary's Story Continues

Today's guest blogger is Anne Dryburgh. Anne is a missionary in Flemish speaking Belgium since 1991 doing evangelism and biblical counseling. Her ministry is unique and I know she would appreciate prayer as she ministers to those around her. These posts will give you an idea of what she faces in her ministry, and how important biblical counseling is to the people she serves. Today she continues the story of "Mary." 

Mary continued to keep a journal of when she became upset. She desperately wanted the Lord to do a work in her heart so that she would become the person that God wants her to be. One day, after being hurt by her husband’s insults, Mary wondered why it bothered and affected her so much. She turned to James 1:14-15: 
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Mary asked herself whether or not her desires were playing a role in her reaction to the way her husband treated her. She asked herself the question “What is it that bothers me so much?” Her answer was the hurtful and disrespectful way that her husband treated her. Then she wondered “Why does this bother me so much?” Her answer was that she longed to be loved and treated with respect. Instead she was treated with disdain and scorn. She knew that her husband’s behavior was wrong, and that desiring love and respect are good, but she also realized that she would have to change if those desires were not to have such a strong, controlling influence on her life. As she thought further, she also saw that her response to her husband was usually also wrong.

Mary thought back to what she had recently learned about who she is as a woman. She remembered from Genesis 1 and 2 that she is made in the image of God. She is her husband’s helper to reflect the image of God. It was clear to her that her reactions to him did not reflect the character of God.

She also remembered reading in 2 Corinthians 5:9 that her aim in life should be to please the Lord and from 5:15 that since Christ had died for her, so that she would no longer live for herself but for the Lord who died for her sake and was raised.

Mary asked the Lord for forgiveness for letting the desire for a loving, respectful husband take such a hold over her. She again prayed for the Lord’s help to live by his power and to reflect him. Taking this step was a very painful and difficult process for Mary, as it meant giving up the dream that she has had since she was a little girl; the dream of Prince Charming loving and cherishing her for the rest of her life. It also meant that she was no longer focused on her husband changing, but on the Lord and becoming the person the Lord wants her to be. On the one hand this was a scary place for Mary, because she was giving up so much, but on the other hand, she had a deep trust that the Lord was in control and leading her.

 As was her usual practice, Mary attended her church’s woman’s Bible study. During the study, the teacher said that wives should always ensure that their husband’s needs are met and that they are happy. This confused Mary because it was not possible to know what her husband wanted. One day he would insist that she do something one way and then completely change his mind a few days later, being equally insistent and assertive for both. She clearly remembered early in their marriage that her husband was insistent that she put sugar in his coffee. He called her stupid and selfish because she did not know that intuitively. About a month later, he threw his coffee cup on the floor, shouting at her because there was sugar in his coffee. How could she be so stupid and selfish? He stopped talking to her for a week after the second incident until she apologized to him.

His mood swings and changes of mind meant that she was often walking on eggshells when he was around, as she never knew how he would behave or react to her or what was going on around them.

Furthermore, if she was always to make him happy, it would mean that she would have to lie for him, be deceitful to others, and let other people down. The most painful thought, however, was that he demanded things of her sexually which went against her conscience and were degrading. Was she supposed to do all these things?

Mary knew that she is called to be her husband’s helper and that a wife is to be submissive to her husband. Being committed to these, she studied Scripture for further help. It was when she read Romans 6 that she started to get answers to her questions.

In this passage, she learned that since she had died to sin, she was no longer to live in it. Mary saw that she is united with Christ in a death like his, and will be united with him in a resurrection like his. The body of sin had been brought to nothing, so that she would no longer be enslaved to sin. She was to consider herself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Sin was no longer to reign in her mortal body. Instead of being a slave to sin, she was to present her members as slaves to righteousness.

Clearly, since she was dead to sin, and was no longer to let sin reign in her mortal body, she could not please her husband when he asked her to lie or be deceitful. Mary knew that this would make him very angry and that he would probably punish her in some way for it. She knew that he would probably increase his attempts to control her. But now she knew that she is first the Lord’s. She lives to please the Lord first and from this, relates to her husband in a gracious, righteous, and loving manner.