Religion

Christ can strenghthen you to face family crisis

My husband seems to be having a mid-life crisis, and I’m so confused I don’t know what to do. He’s taken up with a woman almost half his age, and now he’s announced he’s leaving us and intends to marry her. What does God want me to do? — Mrs. D.G.

You may not be able to change your husband’s mind — but God can, and that’s why the most important thing you can do is to pray for him. Pray that he will see the wrongness of what he’s doing — and the foolishness, as well. The Bible says, “The prayer of a righteous man (or woman) is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

After all, what your husband is doing is wrong, not just in the eyes of other people, but also in God’s eyes. When you were married, you both took a solemn vow - not just before other people, but before God — to be faithful to each other as long as you both were alive. That vow is often broken today, I know — but that doesn’t make it any less serious. Jesus said, “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).

But I also urge you to pray for yourself, and for your attitude. Don’t let bitterness or anger overwhelm you, and don’t give in to depression or feelings of failure. Instead, turn to Christ and ask Him to give you the strength you and your family need during this trying time.

Your husband is living in a fantasy world, deceiving himself into thinking he’ll find lasting happiness this way. But relationships like this seldom last, for they are built on an unstable foundation. May God convict him of his sin, and eventually bring your family back together.

How good do we have to be in order to get into heaven? I know we have to have faith in Jesus, and I do, but surely God won’t let me into heaven unless I also try my best to be a good person, will He? — H.McK.

Have you ever asked yourself how good you have to be in order to enter heaven? Fairly good? Very good? Very, very good? The answer may surprise you: You must be absolutely perfect. Even one sin — just one — would be enough to keep you out of heaven.

Think of it this way. Suppose you had a barrel of pure water. It was absolutely pure; it had come from the finest spring, and then had been distilled until there were no impurities of any kind left in it. But then suppose you decided to put some raw sewage into that barrel of water. How much would it take to contaminate it?

You know the answer: Even the smallest amount — even less than a drop – would pollute it and make it unfit for consumption.

The same is true of us. Even one sin — just one — would be enough to keep you out of heaven — and the reason is because God is perfect and cannot tolerate any wrong. The Bible says, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).

This is why we need Christ, for when He died on the cross He became the final and complete sacrifice for all our sins. All your sins were placed on Him, and He took the punishment you deserve.

Trust Him alone for your salvation by giving your life to Him today.

Does God sometimes test our faith by letting hard times happen to us? If so, why does He do it? Doesn’t He already know whether or not our faith is genuine? — Mrs. K.F.

Sometimes God does test our faith, just as He tested the faith of the ancient Israelites by allowing them to go through hard times in the wilderness, “in order to know what was in your heart” (Deuteronomy 8:2).

Remember: If our faith is weak, it may not be obvious when life is going smoothly and we aren’t challenged in any way. But when hard times come, a weak faith will be revealed for what it really is: shallow and unable to help us through life’s difficulties. It may be anything: an unexpected illness, the death of a loved one, the loss of our job, or even a friend who turns against us. But when hard times happen, the true nature of our faith will be revealed.

But God doesn’t test us because He doesn’t know how strong we are.

Instead, He tests us because we don’t know how strong we are — and we’ll only realize it when times of testing come. The psalmist prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).

None of us likes to go through hard times (and God isn’t necessarily behind them, even if He does allow them). But God can use them to show us our weaknesses. And when that happens, we need to ask God to help our faith grow. Testing should make us spiritually stronger — and it will as we turn it over to God. The Bible says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials . . . so that you may be mature and complete” (James 1:2, 4).

I’m supposed to start teaching a class for high school students in our church in a few weeks, and I’m scared to death. Do you have any suggestions on how to get through to them and hold their attention? — Mrs. A.J.

If God has given this responsibility to you, then the first thing for you to realize is that you won’t be alone in that classroom. God will be with you! He is more concerned about these young men and women than you are, and He will be present by His Spirit to help you as you teach.

Your work as a teacher should involve at least three steps: preparation, prayer and presentation. Don’t skip any of them!

First, prepare your lesson thoroughly and carefully — not at the last minute, but all during the week. Base your lesson on the Bible; young people want to know what God says, and the most important thing you can do to prepare is to study God’s Word thoroughly. The Bible says, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

Then pray — pray for your students, and pray for yourself, that the Holy Spirit will use you to speak to them about Christ.

Satan will do all he can to divert them and close their minds to God’s truth — but God can use your prayers to defeat him.

Finally, make your presentation as clear and interesting as possible.

You aren’t there to entertain them — but neither are you there to put them to sleep! Summarize your lesson in two or three memorable points.

Encourage discussion also (although don’t let it get too far afield).

Most of all, point them to Jesus, and urge them to make Him the center and foundation of their lives.

The Rev. Billy Graham, whose column appears in Faith & Values every Saturday, can be contacted at “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or www.billygraham.org

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