Appreciating Your Husband
About the Guest
Are you worthy of your husband? On the broadcast today, Gary Thomas, author of the book Sacred Influcence, talks with Dennis Rainey about what men most need from their wives.
Gary ThomasGary Thomas is a writer in residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and an adjunct faculty member teaching on spiritual formation at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon and Houston Theological Seminary in Houston, Texas. He is the author of 20 books, including When to Walk Away, Sacred Marriage, Sacred Pathways, Cherish, Sacred Parenting, and the Gold Medallion Award-winning Authentic Faith. He has a master’s degree from Regent College, where he studied u...more
Gary Thomas talks with Dennis Rainey about what men most need from their wives.
Appreciating Your Husband
Bob: Let me ask you a different question – you learned something about a wife's influence or a woman's influence in a man's life. As you read the story about the widow at Zerapath in the Old Testament, right?
Gary: Yes, this is a classic case from 1 Kings 17 where a woman was in the most desperate of situations. She's facing a famine at the time. Her husband has already died, obviously, she's a widow, and she literally only has one meal left to bake for her son. I can't imagine being more desperate than know your husband has died and now you’re literally going to watch your son starve to death in front of you. And yet God sends, really, a savior, with a little "s" at that point, named Elijah who asks her for a drink, and she gives him a drink, and then he says to her, "And if you please will bake me a cake so I'll have something to eat."
So she's got a decision to make. "I've only got a little bit left for my son, but let me try to make it for the prophet," and so she does, and his words to her were that if she would do that for him, that jar of oil – and the jug of oil would never run out until God sent rains back upon the land. God provided that way. Every day she opens up the jug and the jar, and there's still some oil and some flour in there, and I'm sure for a while she was shocked – the next day and the next day – the natural disbelief that, "Wow, there's still something in here."
But then something happens. Over time, she expects there to be flour and oil in there.
In fact, she'd be more surprised if there weren't oil and flour in there, even though there was no natural reason for that to be. And so then her son becomes ill of another disease not related to hunger. It proves fatal, he dies, and she goes to the prophet angry now and says, "What good does it do me if you spare my son from starvation only to allow him to die of another disease?"
So Elijah takes her boy into the back, prays to God, God raises her boy from the dead. Elijah presents that boy to the mother, and she says – these are classic words – "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth." If I could interview that widow, the first thing I'd like to say is this – "Now you know he's a man of God?"
She was in the most desperate of situations and every day was literally a miracle of God's provision offered through this prophet and only now she begins to believe that God had visited her through this man.
Bob: The oil thing didn't convince you, but your son's resurrection did.
Gary: That is an element in every marriage – not just with wives but with husbands – when things are the way they are, when a husband provides a steady paycheck, a wife doesn't – she stops giving him credit. It's just the way things are. When her husband takes the family to church, she doesn't give him credit for it, it's just the way things are.
Now, if you talk to a woman who is married to a non-Christian or a man who is chronically unemployed, they think that would be the best thing in the world.
Gary: And so, really, one of the challenges of marriage is learn to appreciate a lot of those mundane things that we take for granted because, in our mind, it's just the way things are.
Bob: And it's back to Mary Ann's e-mail back to me saying, "Thanks for working hard. Thanks for providing the paycheck. She doesn't take it for granted.
Dennis: Small things to make a difference. You know, I feel like I'm quoting this verse repeatedly here on our broadcast, but I know we're speaking to some wives who are in some very harsh, tough situations. Romans, chapter 12, is a simple verse, but it just slices through the fog of the mundane and of disappointment, and it challenges us – "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good."
Gary, that's really what you're challenging wives to do who are in tough situations. You're writing this book to some women who are in perhaps abusive homes, homes where there has been no spiritual lights on for maybe decades. What hope and encouragement can you give that wife?
Gary: In my spare time, I've gotten into running marathons. I really enjoy it. My wife thinks I've lost my mind doing this, but I really enjoy it. We have a marathon training group where I've seen people that are not even in shape coming to learn to train to do a marathon. I've seen a lot of women who have never run three miles and six months later they finish a marathon. They have this challenge before them, and they make daily changes in their diet and in their physical exercise. Six months later they can complete a marathon.
If you are married to a man with a really bad temper, a man with an addiction, a man who is not involved in home, a man who is not spiritually alive, that's your marathon. That's your challenge. You put it on the calendar and say, "Lord, what do I need to do today and tomorrow and the next day to become the type of person who is strong enough to face that challenge."
And so you see, as backwards as this may sound, you see your imperfect husband as God's gift to call out your spiritual best. You need to become strong. You need to grow like you've never grown before because you have this great challenge before you. And as Christians we never have to just lay down and say, "This is my life. There is nothing I can do about it."
Every woman listening to us literally, if she is a believer in Christ, has the power of God's Holy Spirit to fill her, to strengthen her, to renew her, to comfort her. She's got the wisdom of God's Word. If she's wise, she's got the fellowship of God's church. There isn't a husband alive who could stand against the power of God in a godly woman's life.
Bob: This isn't original with me, but you've heard somebody say, "You have a choice of either becoming bitter or becoming better." And, really, what Gary is calling women to here is don't become bitter, become better as lovers of God and as followers of Christ and watch that influence spill out into your home and your family.
Dennis: He's really talking, Bob, about seeing your husband change. I'm reminded – in fact, Gary, I've thought of this quote numerous times as you've talked this week, of a statement made by Martin Luther – "Marriage is an institution but it's not a reformatory." A lot of us get into marriage, and we move from the relational institution that it is, and we begin to think God made us to change our spouse, and we know what's best for him or her, and we need to be about changing them.
That's really what I appreciate about what you've done in your book. You've called women to take the high road and seeing their husbands change. I just want to thank you for your excellent gift of writing. Bob, Gary is an outstanding writer, and if our listeners have never read any of his books, this book right here would be a great place to start.
Bob: And I can imagine a lot of women who have been listening to this conversation and who do long in the core of their being—they want to support and help and encourage and see their husband be all God wants him to be. That is the woman you wrote the book for.
The book is called Sacred Influence—How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands and you can find it in our FamilyLife Resource Center. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY. That’s 1-800-358-6329. Ask for a copy of the book Sacred Influence and we will make arrangements to have it sent to you.
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As we have talked today with our guest Gary Thomas about a wife having a sacred influence on her husband. An influence for good. There is an illustration you share and I think it is in the book where you talk about one of our founding fathers John Adams and the impact his wife Abigail had on him. Share that illustration with our listeners.
Gary: John Adams wrote to Abigail in a letter just at the start of the Revolutionary War. He said to her, you know, recognizing the challenge before the nation, he said to her, "We can't guarantee success in this world, but we can deserve it."
I think that's what the Napoleon quote was ultimately pointing toward – that women can't guarantee they can change their husbands, but they can build their lives, they can organize their lives, they can create a climate in their home where they really deserve to see their husband influenced and change. That's the hope. Ultimately, you can only change yourself, but it's my belief that in changing yourself, you are far more likely to change in a very positive way the man that you're married to.
Bob: I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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