What are your longings?

One of the major stumbling blocks that couples face, when trying right what has gone wrong, is perspective.  What I mean by perspective is simply not being able to see light at the end of the tunnel. There can come a point in any relationship where things spin so out of control, finding a way out seems impossible. Usually, by that point, everyone is just plain exhausted and just getting through another day is the goal; as for hope? It’s nothing more than a memory.  The objective, of course should be not to let things get so out of control, but saying and doing are often two different things.  If you find yourself in just such a position or know someone who is, what you or they need is a Titus.  What’s a Titus?  Let’s find out by looking at 2Corinthians 7:5-9.

To set the stage, we find Paul and his followers just leaving Macedonia and to put it mildly, they were not well received there.  He describes their condition as exhausted, having been “harassed at every turn…conflicts on the outside, fears within (v.5).”  For many whose marriages are in turmoil, this is exactly what they are experiencing. What’s needed at this stage is something that only God can provide, and is only available if we commit ourselves to work through Him.  Only God, in Christ, can turn our fear into confidence, conflict into peace and provide the rest we so desperately need.

Sometimes it begins with a Titus, “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him (v. 6, 7).”  Who was Titus?  Paul describes Titus in a letter to him as, “my true son in our common faith.”  It would appear that Titus had just left Corinth and was the bearer of good news about how things were turning around with those who had opposed Paul there.  Paul describes in verse seven what Titus told him, “He told us about your (those in Corinth) longing for me (Paul), your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.”

This was of course the best of news for Paul and just what he and the others needed to hear at this particular point in time. It would be nice if when we needed it most, a Titus would appear and give us the optimism and energy we so desperately need. The reality is, more often than not, our Titus never shows up. “But didn’t God promise that if we ask, he will provide…so where is my Titus?”  Sometimes that Titus is you!  God wants you to be the Titus in your marital relationship. To stop pouring fuel on the smoldering fire and decide to extinguish it instead; to be the one who brings new light and optimism to your relationship through the power of the Holy Spirit. “Sounds good but how do I turn things around, when she (or he) barely wants to talk to me?”  The answer is to gain and then provide perspective.

Gaining perspective comes from reading and applying God’s word to our thoughts and actions by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.  But how do I motivate the one sitting across the kitchen table to participate in the process?  It begins with our prayers but doesn’t end there.  Paul gives us a list of action items to guide us in both our prayers and our actions.  The first item is to ask God to rekindle the “longing” you once had for your husband or wife. Not just a longing for peace in the relationship, but the genuine longing for the love that was once at the center of your relationship; a longing that is so deep and wide that you would be willing to live in misery or even die for the sake of your beloved.  The second item is to have a “deep sorrow” for what you have contributed to the conflict.  This is not being sorry for having been caught or the misery it has caused you, but for the toll it has taken on your beloved.  The third is to have and show “ardent concern” for both the person and the issues that brought you to where you are.  This involves both listening and being willing to stay silent, which for many is the hardest part.  To be ardent in our concern means we are to be passionate and eager to reconcile at any cost to our feelings or self-image. If this sounds difficult, you’re right and that’s why it can only be accomplished with God’s help and on his schedule.

“See what this Godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.”  2Corinthians 7:11

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