At the women’s bible study group I go to, the lady leading that day’s session posed a question that brought an uncomfortable silence upon all of us:
“If you were to describe your husband to anyone using just 3 different words, what words would you use?”
We averted our gazes and avoided eye contact, brows slightly knitted in discreet concentration as our minds worked furiously to substitute the immediate descriptors that came to mind with more acceptable terms.
As I continued to mentally rummage through suitable adjectives in desperation, one lady’s innocent quip of “And it has to be positive?” sent us all into nervous and relieved laughter.
I could be wrong, but I have a hunch that how well one identifies with the above sentiments gives a fair indication of how long one has been with their spouse.
Regrettably, I couldn’t muster better than “easy-going”, “shy” and “sensitive” that day. And I sat and listened ruefully as the rest of the women waxed lyrical on the glowing qualities of their husbands.
After everyone had their turn, the leader of the session told us, “From now on, these 3 things about your husband are what you need to hold on to and remember, especially when you are going through rough days or tough times.”
I left the session thinking over her words. And in the days that followed, I began to observe my husband more keenly, discovering anew what was it that I appreciated most about him.
Isn’t it telling that our feelings towards our spouses are typically linked to the present circumstances and the prevailing state of our relationship with them? When things are all rosy and sweet, our praises of our spouses roll easily off our tongue. When things go sour and strife is rife, we have nothing but bitter words to say about them.
Once the starry-eyed romance of the dating and newlywed days have faded into the everyday reality of the good, the bad and the ugly, how can we keep our focus on the good, and look past the bad and the ugly?
The answer: see them through the eyes of grace, the way God sees.
Certainly, in and of ourselves, this does not come naturally or easily. But when we start to take a look at how God sees us, we begin to be able to see our spouses the same way, unknowingly and effortlessly.
When God’s chosen nation Israel were journeying to the land that God had promised to give them, some of their enemies tried to stop them using sorcery. The enemy king engaged a sorcerer to go up on a mountain overlooking the camp of Israel and speak a curse over them. But the Lord intercepted the sorcerer and changed the words in his mouth, so that when the time came for him to prophesy and speak over Israel, he said instead these words from the Lord:
“He (God) has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel.” (Numbers 23:21)
It wasn’t that the people of Israel had no wickedness or sin. For sure, there was fighting in the camp, and the people were often murmuring and complaining against God. But God’s eyes perceived no wickedness in them.*
Today, Jesus sees the church as His bride. Not only collectively, but every believer of Christ personally, can count Jesus as our heavenly Husband. And He says this of His bride: that He loved her and gave Himself for her, and He sets her apart and cleanses her by the washing of the water of His word, and presents her to Himself as a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Because Jesus has made us perfect in Him, today He sees us always beautiful and spotless, like a bride on her wedding day. Not figuratively, but truly.
The eyes of grace don’t embellish unnecessarily nor deny that flaws exist, they simply look past the flaws to only see the beauty and perfections in the one whom they love.
When we see our spouses through the eyes of grace, we will see them not as the spouse we have gotten used to and taken for granted, but always as the perfect bride or groom that we said “Yes” to on our wedding day.
Our spouses are God’s grace gifts to us, to allow us to enjoy in part His heaven on earth.
And I’m so grateful that He has given me the most devoted, forgiving and encouraging husband ever.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.
*The account of the failed sorcery attempt on Israel is recorded in Numbers 22-24.