“The Hopeless Marriage” by Ed Welch

Below is another example why I buy every book that Ed Welch writes.

“Most marriages have times when one spouse does not like the other, and the dislike is usually mutual—at least my “friends” tell me that is accurate, though I’m confident that even when my wife thinks she doesn’t like me, she secretly—very secretly—likes me. For some of us, these times happen less frequently and we manage them with more skill and grace. For others, mutual dislike is chronic rather than acute, and marital hopelessness becomes the rule.

I hate that hopelessness. The choices are to persist in the relationship and see who dies first or to craft an independent life and try to pretend you don’t care. Either way, your soul withers. It is hard to have a vibrant life with God when your primary relationship is in the dumper.

So, what can you do?

1. I don’t know. That might not seem too helpful but, at least, it shows you some respect. I am saying that there is nothing easy about your situation. If any friend or counselor has the answer for you, that person probably doesn’t understand that you have tried all the answers and they don’t work.

The blessed feature of this is that the only thing we can do is cry out for mercy to the God who hears, understands, has a unique interest in relational unity, and has the power to raise the dead. The ever-present danger in counseling is that counselors figure out ways to “fix” people, which means that we might bypass our spiritual neediness and constant dependence on the Spirit.

In this sense, “I don’t know” means “in your hopelessness, you are at the end of yourselves and need divine intervention.” Such humility is both attractive and hopeful.

2. Volunteer to go first. When both spouses have their guns loaded and aimed, it takes a good bit of spiritual courage to lower your weapon first. But, assuming that you are not in a physically dangerous situation, it is the only way to win. The Sermon on the Mount codifies the way of power and prestige (Matt. 5:1-10). Imagine how good it would be to be disliked by your spouse for doing righteousness rather than selfishness. Imagine setting your goal to love your spouse more than you want to be loved by your spouse. The worst that will happen is that you will be blessed and know Jesus better than ever. The best thing that will happen is that you will know Jesus better, spiritual beings will be stunned at the power of God in weak people, and, somehow, you will have contributed to the Kingdom of God in ways that will endure far beyond death.

Anyone willing to drop their weapons? It gets boring to fight with someone who doesn’t fight back with worldly strategies.

3. Remember that your battle is not with flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). If we know anything, it is this: Satan is invited into every divided relationship (Eph. 4:26), and, once invited, he will not leave unless his invitation is revoked. Every divided relationship—all hopelessness—has demonic fingerprints all over it. It is as if hopeless spouses are aiming their bb guns at each other; meanwhile, Satan’s rocket launcher is ready to destroy husband, wife, and anyone who is close by, such as children.

Somehow, at least one spouse must see that Satan is a much greater threat than the other spouse.

You will receive little consolation to know that there are other Christians who are in hopeless relationships that look quite similar to your own. But you should be encouraged that hopelessness is a small step from spiritual neediness, which is the foundation of all change. And you should be encouraged that the impossible—think  of the Israelites being cornered by Egyptians at the Red  Sea—is an ideal venue for God’s power.”

Danger: The Common use of “God” in language.


This is an advertisement for a bracelet posted on the back page of this week’s Parade Magazine, collated in our Chicago Tribune. Though not a word is mentioned about the specifics for protection and strength, that is, military or otherwise, it is a sincere gesture that any parent can sympathize with. No doubt! But . . .

Here is the danger: Post-modern Christianity is not Christianity, because, the word “God” can mean anything BUT the Father who sent Jesus Christ to save sinners. Acid test (no not like the Rolling Stones): Any time you see or hear the word “God”, replace it with “Christ” – and see if those who use the word God would approve. If not, then they are not speaking of the only God that there is – for the only God there is – is the one who sent his Son as Savior of Sinners. Though fully God, he became fully Man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for claiming to be God, rose again from the dead and is coming back as King of kings and Lord of lords.

The danger is that just because you use the word God, you think that you and God are ok. Not! You are not ok unless you love his Son whom he sent (1 John 5:1, 9-12). Which means, never use the word God unless you believe that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully Man, to save you from your sins. Otherwise, you “take the Lord’s name in vain.”

For my son: “May Jesus Christ Always Protect You and Give You Strength!”

It’s much easier to say, ‘He Is Risen,’ than to live it.

Real Christianity is not easy. In fact, it’s impossible! Apart from Christ painfully crucified and alive “in me,” I have no means to put my faith in the Son of God for what he calls me to do (Gal. 2:20). But since he is crucified and alive in me, I do not nullify this grace – I live on it (vs. 21).

I joyfully and easily celebrated the fact of the Resurrection of Jesus yesterday – but that was yesterday. Today is Monday. Tomorrow is Tuesday, and so on. Here comes the real test as to the confession I made yesterday:

* Will I lay down my life today and serve my wife, my kids, my neighbor?

* Will I resort to manipulation, guilt, self-pity, and deception this week to rule others and get what I want?

* Will I pray today and ask God for the strength of Christ to live for him and not for myself (2 Cor. 5:15-21)?

* Will I know myself as “in Christ” today and not seek my self-worth and value in possessions, money, fame, and achievements?

* Will I trust in my Father’s plan to sanctify me through hardships?

Saying, “He is Risen” is not empty theologizing nor is it attending an annual pep-rally. Here is what it means to practically say, “He is Risen” – for all my days:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God . . . Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator . . . put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. Be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:1-17)

And if this were not enough – there is more. If “He is Risen” – wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives, children obey your parents, employees obey your employers, employers treat your employees fairly, continue in prayer and live a wise life in a wicked world (Col. 3:18-4:5).

Saying that the tomb is empty is no empty confession. It is full of real, day-to-day application of what it means to know Christ in every arena of life. As I said, it’s much easier to say, “He Is Risen” on Easter Sunday than it is to live it. But by God’s daily grace – it is possible, and thankfully so.