It wasn't all that long ago that my family and I had a lovely couple living next door that we enjoyed having in our neighborhood. Dan and Margie seemed so happily married and so much in love. They had no children of their own, but they had many relatives with children who often allowed their kids to stay with Dan and Margie, sometimes for weeks. After a while, Dan began complaining to my husband, Joe, that Margie was giving all of her attention to the children who were staying with them, and very little to him. Joe took Margie aside and tried explaining to her how neglected Dan was feeling, and he gave her a friendly warning. When Margie showed no signs of changing her behavior, I gave her a friendly warning of my own. Dan was a very kind and understanding man, but I knew that everyone had their limits, and I didn't want to see their marriage torn apart because of Margie's thoughtless and reckless behavior. Things got so bad that Dan eventually walked out on Margie and their marriage. It was then that Margie realized how foolish she had been, but it was too late. Dan was gone for good, and there was nothing she could do about it. She sank into a pit of depression and tried to kill herself. Sometime later, she moved out of our neighborhood, and we heard through one of our other neighbors some months later that she had died.
Whenever I think of this sad story, I can't help thinking of Solomon's proverb which says, "A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands." (Proverbs 14:1 NLT) Margie had been a very fortunate woman. She had a husband who loved her and was devoted to her. Instead of appreciating him and listening to his concerns and complaints, she foolishly gave her own needs and desires so much importance that she forgot about those of her husband, and eventually forfeited her marriage. The only consolation that Joe and I had was that we had repeatedly tried to warn Margie that she was on dangerous ground. If she had taken our warnings to heart, and approached her husband with humility and remorse, she could have saved her marriage, and spared herself a lot of misery. Instead, a good marriage came to an abrupt end, and so did Margie's life.
I know how difficult it can be to keep a marriage and family together, because my husband and I have been married for 40 years. We have had our share of trouble and trials, and we have experienced periods of resentment, unforgiveness, and strife. Together, we have faced unbearable sorrow, regret, and disappointment. And there have been many times we were tempted to walk away from each other, but we resisted. And it has paid off. I will be honest with you and share with you here one of the things that has helped me to persevere in difficult times where my marriage is concerned. Years ago, after my high school sweetheart abruptly ended our three-year relationship, I was devastated. I couldn't accept that it was over, and that I had to move on. I kept trying to convince my boyfriend that we belonged together, to no avail. Eventually, I got the message, and I met my husband, Joe, in one of my college classes. Then it was my boyfriend who expressed a desire for us to reconcile. When I told him that it was too late, he confessed that he was haunted by memories of me trying to get back together. Because I never wanted to make the same mistake that he did, I have always thought twice about walking out on my marriage, even in the most difficult of times. And I thank God that I had that experience so many years ago, and that I learned from it.
Marriages and families can be fragile. We live in a cold and broken world. Besides that, the devil and his dark forces continually work overtime to try to destroy our families. You and I have to be very careful not to tear down our households with our own hands. With God's help, we can be ever watchful and alert to attacks on our families, and we can neutralize them with prayer and obedience to God's laws and biblical principles. Are you prepared to fight for your family?
Prayer: Lord, today, I want to thank You for my loved ones. I commit them and myself to You, and I ask that You fill us with the love, respect, humility, and wisdom we need to make our house the kind of home that will be like heaven on earth. Most of all, instill in us a holy reverence for You and Your Word, and teach us how to love each other with Your kind of love. Guard us from the kind of selfishness and strife that can tear us apart, and make us quick to forgive each other with all our hearts. Thank You that as we live lives that honor You, and consider each other's welfare as much as our own, You will preserve and prosper our family!
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