BEING MARRIED TO AN UNBELIEVER AMONGST THE ‘ALL THINGS’ THAT WORK TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF GOD’S ELECT!
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose!” [Romans 8:28]
I truly believe that a genuinely bona fide born ‘born-again’ Christian will never WILLFULLY marry an unbeliever in most cases. For the heart cry, desire and longing of the true believer is to do the will of God (Rom 7:22), especially in a matter as serious as marriage!
There are two reasons why a believer in Christ may wind up with an unbelieving spouse. One – they may have married their spouse when they themselves did not ‘know the Lord’. In other instances they may have married someone believing them to be a Christian and because they themselves were at the time of their decision fairly ‘new in the Lord’, and being ‘babes in Christ’ their judgment concerning their fiancé` could have been wrong. Their Christian fiancé` may have shown all the signs of a true believer just prior to the marriage and the Christian may only find out by and by that their judgment concerning them was wrong!
Now is God’s Sovereign purpose lost or failed in all of this because His believing child has finally wound up with an unbelieving spouse! GOD FORBID! On the contrary, the marriage of God’s child to an unbeliever is ordained by the same God who saved him! The God who withheld an unbelieving heathen king from touching one of His daughters (Gen 20:6) could have easily stopped His believing child from marrying an unbeliever! But He did not! Why? Because the marriage of God’s child to an unbeliever is amongst the ‘ALL THINGS’ that work together for greater good to those who “love God and are the called according to His purpose!” [Rom 8:28]
The testimony of the mighty Samson is a case in point! Samson, with all his love for the Lord yet had a weakness for women. At one point in his life his weakness for beauty so overruled his love for the Lord that he decided to marry a woman of the Philistines! And in spite of his parents reminding him that such a thing could not be of God, Samson was still stubborn in his decision to do so! But the Scripture reminds us – “But his father and his mother knew not that it was OF THE LORD, that He sought an occasion against the Philistines!” [Judges 14:4]
And even in instances where a believer may because of the weakness of his fallen flesh have made a wrong decision in choosing a supposed believer for a spouse, God’s purpose for His child is NEVER defeated! And neither does God now wash His hands off of His erring child to reap the benefits of his error. The God of the believer is also his loving Father and not a heartless butcher! And “as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth their frame; He remembereth that they are but dust!” [Psalm 103:13]
God, the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Sovereign God of the universe ‘sees’ the way of His erring child and though His child may have blown it big time, yet this benevolent Father still comes to him and loves him, heals him and restores comforts unto him!
“For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.” [Isa 57:7,17]
Notice what God says! He does not say, “Too bad, you made a wrong choice! Now you’re on your own and I can’t help you!” No! On the contrary the Lord says that He will not only heal him and restore comforts unto him, but will CONTINUE TO LEAD HIM!
As that glorious hymn says –
He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me;
by His own hand He leadeth me:
his faithful follower I would be,
for by His hand He leadeth me.
Our glorious God can and does overrule any mistake or sins of our past for His glory! In the Old Testament the Lord told His people- “I will RESTORE to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and My people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and MY PEOPLE SHALL NEVER BE ASHAMED.”! [Joel 2:25]
Now ponder the above verse very prayerfully! God says He can and will restore what you think may hopelessly be lost, and in the end you will never be ashamed.
This is one of the amazing things about God. He can take your broken dreams and shattered hopes and make a miracle out of your life.
The more we learn how sovereign our God is, the more we can be assured that He is in COMPLETE CONTROL of all that has transpired in our lives. . . even in marrying an unbelieving spouse! If you are a Christian, then you know that God did not spare His only begotten Son to save you. Now THAT is the ultimate expression of love. One may sacrifice their child to save a FRIEND, but only God sacrificed His Son to save His ENEMIES. “For if, when WE WERE ENEMIES, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life”! [Rom 5:10]
Seeing that He has given His well beloved to save our wretched souls, will He now trick or trap us into ruin? “Oh but I brought all this on myself by MY OWN wrong decisions”! In a certain sense this is true, but in a deeper sense it is God who has been guiding you in ALL THE DECISIONS YOU HAVE MADE! “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps”! [Prov 16:9]. Again, “A Man’s goings are OF THE LORD; how can a man then understand his own way”? [Prov 20:24]
The Patriarch Job was so established and confident of God’s ‘Absolute Sovereignty’ that in spite of all the evil that befell him, he could confidently affirm – “But HE KNOWETH the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall COME FORTH AS GOLD”! [Job 23:10]
One thing that I have learnt during these twenty nine years as a Christian is that the Lord is sovereignly overruling ALL OUR DECISIONS for His glory and for our ultimate good! Unless we grasp this amazing truth, we shall be miserable in this vale of tears. “The misfortunes and adversities of life, so called, assume a different color when we look at them through this glass of Absolute Predestination. It is sad to hear people trying to live over their lives again and saying to themselves: ‘IF I had chosen a different profession,’ ‘IF I had taken a different turning of the road,’ ‘IF I had married another person.’ Etc. All this is weak and unChristian. The web of destiny we have woven, in a sense, with our own hands, and yet God had His part in it. It is GOD’S PART in it, and not our part, that gives us faith and hope.” [Clarence E. Macartney]
So in some cases the unbelieving spouse could be the so called ‘thorn in the flesh’ to the devout God-fearing believer until the appointed time comes for their salvation. In fact in most cases the unbelieving spouse is also one of God’s elect and God has ordained that they be saved through this marriage . . . in His time! As the Apostle says – “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word BE WON BY THE CONVERSATION OF THE WIVES; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” [1Pet 3:1]
And in cases where this may not be so, God giveth more grace (Jam 4:6) for His believing child to endure all things and bear with the unbelieving spouse!
What we need to see is that EVERYONE starting from our parents, our friends, our enemies our teachers, employers and finally our spouse and even our children are given to us by the Lord’s own hand for the working of His great salvation in us! “Since thou wast precious in My sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” [Isa 43:4]
And the bottom line is – God is more concerned in conforming His child to the image of His Son than making his marriage work or making his family the ‘ideal couple’ in the neighborhood which men can look up to! The path which He has chosen to bring His elect through to glory is the BEST one for them. For had there been a ‘better path’ or a ‘better way’, HE who loved them enough to die for them would have brought them that way! Hallelujah!
“Beloved, I would encourage you to constantly remind yourself of the Scripture where the Psalmist says that – “He (God) led them forth by the RIGHT WAY that they might go to a city of habitation.” Is that not amazing? For we read that “they (the Israelites) WANDERED:” and that their wanderings were in a “WILDERNESS,” where there were no TRACKED PATHS? And we read that it was “a solitary way”? How, then, could it be “a RIGHT WAY,” where there was no way at all? Yet the Spirit of God says, that it WAS the “right way.” Reason, sense, and nature, have to hold their peace. Because, nature never can understand how a way of trouble, of temptation, of exercise, of sorrow, of perplexity can be the right way.
But GOD NEVER MEANT NATURE, SENSE, AND REASON TO UNDERSTAND IT. The Lord gives faith to His dear people, that His dealings may be believed in, not reasoned upon; and He raises up this precious gift of the Spirit in their soul, not that they may confer with nature, sense, and reason, but that they may believe His own testimony in their heart and conscience. For this reason God leads His people by such paths as are directly contrary to nature, sense, and reason, in order to baffle them!
By faith, then, only can we understand how it is “a right way.” And when faith is in exercise, then it is known to be “a right way.” Our losses, our crosses, our trials in providence, our afflictions of body, our perplexities of mind, our sorrows of heart, – all are then to us “a right way.” ‘Once,’ you say, ‘they were a labyrinth: I could not find my way through them: they were an enigma, which I could not unravel. But soon you will see that those things, which so puzzled, perplexed, and tried you, led to your greatest blessings. I could not,’ you will say, ‘see the hand of the Lord at THAT TIME: but how plainly do I see it NOW? In that painful dispensation, that agony of soul, that trouble of mind, that distressing path, how plainly do I see NOW that the Lord’s hand was leading me”! [J.C. Philpot]
And the Lord is not done yet, Beloved! He will CONTINUE to lead you and ultimately bring you into your desired haven!
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their DESIRED HAVEN. Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! [Psa 107:29-31] Praise the Lord!