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I had never eaten calamari before. As I sat across from my husband on our first date, I tried to take it all in—the calamari and him. His voice was deep and far more northern sounding than I expected. So mature, I remember thinking. I didn’t yet know he was five years older than me. But what shocked me most of all, was the fact that he and his close friend were both high school Spanish teachers.

Eight years before we met, my husband’s heart had been stirred to share the love of Christ as a Christian educator in the public school system. He listened to the Spirit’s prompting and changed his major from business to education during his freshman year of college. By the time we met, he had been teaching for five years and was well past the honeymoon stage of teaching, if there even is one.

Since then, my husband has been tempted to doubt and bemoan his decision to become a teacher at every turn. Many times he has felt hung out to dry by the Lord, sincerely desiring eternal purpose only to have it seemingly slip through his fingers. When we seek the Lord and life feels purposeless anyway, it is tempting to lay blame at God’s feet.

But Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Learning to bear our cross and lose our lives for Christ’s sake is difficult. How can we stay encouraged and encourage our spouse to keep believing in the midst of this often painful process?

Fan the Flame of Your Own Faith 
In order to encourage your spouse, you will need to keep faith alive in your own heart. A great way to do this is by spending time in God’s Word.

My heart pulsed with hope when I stumbled upon the story of King Jehoshaphat and learned he felt the same way as my husband. Before his army’s choral debut of praise that prompted God to subdue their enemies, the King of Judah felt hung out to dry by the Lord.

For some reason God had not allowed Israel to invade the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir when they had come out of Egypt. Now, those same people were causing Judah problems. King Jehoshaphat pours out his complaint to the Lord in 2 Chronicles 20:10-11.

“And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them—here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit.”

Can you hear the frustration in Jehoshaphat’s voice? God, we have been trying to honor You! Now, look where it’s gotten us. We are in this predicament because of You!

If you are honest, maybe you have felt this way before. Satan loves to slither into our minds and get us imagining how much easier life would be if we had married so-and-so, chosen such-and-such a career path, or not chosen to do this or that. Of course these thoughts are delusional and untrue, but Satan doesn’t care about that. As the father of lies, that’s the only thing he knows how to dish out.

In these moments of doubt and discouragement, you have a decision to make. Will you abandon the Lord and devise your own way to get though life or will you choose to believe the Lord and honor the vow you made to your spouse?

We often fail to see our crises of faith as pivotal moments that position us for a fresh encounter with the Lord. Jehoshaphat’s fear and doubt came just one verse before his famous words of faith in 2 Chronicles 20:12,

“O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chronicles 20:13)

In response to Jehoshaphat’s honest cry, God’s Spirit came upon a Levite in their midst who delivered God’s Word to the people.

“Thus says the Lord to you: Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:17)

When they heard this, Jehoshaphat and all the people bowed before the Lord, worshipping the Lord. Then, they stood up and praised Him with their voices loud and high. The next day, the people listened to their fearless king whose heart God had revived as he commanded them, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established, believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20).

The people responded in faith and went out before the army singing, “Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.” As they began to sing and praise the Lord, God set an ambush against Judah’s enemies and they were defeated. Just like the promise God made to Judah, God offers us victory against our foes of doubt, discouragement, sin, and death through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

After twenty two years of teaching in what has felt like a barren wilderness, in the heart of downtown Louisville, two students have come to faith in Christ. Recently, a new teacher with a heart burning for the Lord appeared at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting my husband sponsors. Foul-mouthed football players are showing up to consider the words of Jesus and one is even posting scripture on his Instagram account.

Despite how you may be feeling, the Lord is worthy of your praise. Take some time today to turn on some worship music and praise the Lord. His mercy still endures forever to all who will call upon His name. If you are doubting it, ask God to revive your faith like he did for King Jehoshaphat. Then ask Him how to encourage your spouse so they can continue to believe Him, too. May God bless you and your spouse with hope in believing.