He looked down and depressed, as if his spirit was wounded. The spark was gone from his eyes, there was a slouch to his shoulders and he spoke in more of a monotone. He was physically and emotionally exhausted. Physically from a persistent illness that had badgered him for more than a month and from overwork at a demanding high pressure job, emotionally from a marriage that had been without love for far too long.
We talked for quite a while and he shared with me how difficult his home life had become. His wife had lost respect for him years earlier and by his account the vast majority of their communication, on the rare occasions there was any, was negative and demeaning. Intimacy had disappeared and been replaced by cold silence. While divorce would be in many ways welcome he was committed to his children and to his vows, so on he suffered.
I wanted so much to help him, to come up with some brilliant advice that could lift his spirits and bring hope, but found myself at a loss. What do you tell a man in this circumstance? Platitudes and trite phrases such as “Hang in there” or “It will get better” seemed so empty and inappropriate. I thought of what I knew about him. I knew he had a desire to be good, to do good and to be the man God wanted him to be, so I simply told him that while he may not be able to do anything about the feelings and attitude of his wife, he could still be good. He could honor God, with the hope that this life is not all there is and that someday he would stand before God knowing that God would know his heart and his effort.
I encouraged him to not deal with the pain alone, but to share with others that he was struggling and to ask others for their prayers and support. I hugged him and prayed for him before he left. The ache in my heart stayed throughout the rest of the morning. I think what bothered me the most was that both he and his wife profess Christian faith, they go to church and attend Bible studies, but the most important area of their lives, their marriage, is an empty shell. I wondered how many families I see were just like his, dying on the inside while putting up a façade for the outside world.
I wonder if there may be some who read this who are in a similar circumstance, trapped in unhappiness, feeling alone and unsupported. My prayer for you is the same as it was for him, May God give you wisdom and peace and strength to get through today, and the peace and strength to get through each day as it comes. May God give you encouragement and comfort in the knowledge that He understands and will always be with you.