Theology of Suffering - Wives
In our theology of suffering, we note this important Scripture: Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.(I Peter 3:1-6, NIV)
How to Suffer for Doing Good 4
Notice in this theology of suffering that phrase "in the same way". How are wives to be submissive to their husbands? “In the same way” citizens are subject to bad governments and slaves are subject to bad masters. Some Christian wives are under the strange impression that if the relationship doesn't work out, if their husband is inconsiderate, if he doesn't communicate well, if he gets drunk and is not a good provider, if he is angry and mean spirited, then they will simply get a divorce. Maybe that is the way you are thinking. Maybe the marriage isn't working for you and you want to throw in the towel. Don't do it! Why not? It is because God says, "in the same way.” Your marriage may be bad, although nowhere near as bad as a despotic murderous anti-Christian government. Your marriage may be oppressive, although nowhere near as oppressive as a tyrannical, violent slave master.
Let's Look Inside
Your marriage may be bad but, "in the same way" as these Christians were told how to live with the bad situations just described, you must live with your husband. What is it that they were required to do again? "But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God” (I Peter 2:20, NIV). That is what you must also do with that difficult husband of yours. First, you must “do good” even if you have to suffer for it. Then, if you are abused for your goodness, you must indeed suffer "in the same way" as those you have just studied.
"You must be kidding! This is the 21st century. Women don't do things like that anymore."
And that, dear lady, is why marriages are in serious decline. Don't let your marriage disintegrate because you think you have "a better idea." You don't. The word of God abides forever. It is as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago. Make obeying it your theology of suffering. If you do, your life will be immeasurably better and wonderfully blessed of God, and perhaps your marriage will be as well.
Do you live with an unbeliever? Maybe you do. How does God want you to live with him, and hopefully win him to Christ? The Bible is clear, "They may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (I Peter 3:1, NIV). Notice it says behavior, not talk or argumentation; in fact, Peter says "without words". Does your behavior have winsome, engaging qualities to it? Is your husband drawn to Christ because he sees: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)? Or is it more likely that he is seeing 'hate, unhappiness, impatience, unkindness, meanness, unfaithfulness, harshness, and uncontrollable anger'? Is your husband saying to himself, "If what she has is Christianity, I don't want any part of it"!
What kind of behavior does Scripture want your husband to see in you?
...when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.(I Peter 3:2-4, NIV)
Purity, reverence, gentleness, and a quiet spirit are the marks of a godly wife. Let us look at each of these four words for just a minute.
Theology of Suffering - First, notice this word "purity," it comes from the root of the word holy. It "signifies (1) pure from every fault, immaculate, chaste; (2) pure from carnality, modest". Is that what you are?
I can hear someone replying, "Yeah, when pigs learn to fly and when he gets his act together and starts living an 'immaculate' life then so will I, but not a day sooner. And I'm betting on the pigs to win that race."
Wrong! God requires this of you regardless of how ungodly your husband may be living. His sin does not justify yours. You must be holy before God regardless of what he is or does. God does not hold you accountable for his sins, but neither does he excuse your sins because your husband also is guilty of the same ones. No, you must live "pure" from every fault before God and before your husband.
Theology of Suffering - Second, consider the word "reverence." It means "fear." In this context it is a "reverential fear of God, as a controlling motive of the life, in matters spiritual and moral…." Here is the next question: Does your life evidence this kind of reverential fear of God? Without it your life cannot demonstrate the behavior required by God before your husband.
Theology of Suffering - Third, we have the word "gentle." This word refers both to a person's outward behavior to his fellow men, and to an inwrought grace of the soul, which is chiefly directed towards God. It is that temper of spirit that comes from accepting His dealings with us as good, and therefore you do them without disputing or resisting. It is closely linked with the word humility. Are you gentle and humble before God and your husband?
Do these qualities characterize your spirit? Do you exercise gentleness "toward God?" If you do, no doubt you have little trouble exercising it towards your husband also. But if it is a foreign quality in your relationship with God, it will be foreign to your relationship with your husband as well.
Theology of Suffering - Fourth, our last word is "quiet." This word indicates “tranquility arising from within, causing no disturbance to others ... it is associated with 'meek….” Is that what you possess? Or does a lack of tranquility from within cause great disturbance in your home?
Sandra was not at all tranquil. That is why she came for counseling. Things were going badly in her life, although she could not figure out why. In listening to Sandra, it became increasingly clear that she was a selfish, self-centered woman.
Finally, the counselor simply asked her, "Are you a selfish, self-centered person?"
At first, she looked startled, and then she quietly looked down for a few minutes thinking.
Eventually, looking up she said, "Yes, I believe I am."
Sandra was given homework that required her to be self-less every day, at work, at home, everywhere. After two weeks she came back and reported on her progress.
"Things are much better at home and at work," she said, "People seem to like me more, and I am getting along with my 9-year-old son and my husband better than I have in years. It's amazing what a little selflessness will do in your life."
The tranquility returned to her heart, and she left counseling content with her life for the first time in years.
In this theology of suffering, we have covered four important words, the qualities of which are required of you by God. Do you possess them? If not, and you have any hope for a Biblical solution to your marriage woes, then the first thing you must do to put your marriage back together again is not to devote your time and efforts to "fixing" him. But instead you must devote your time and energy to "fixing" you. God does not hold you accountable for his actions. But He does hold you accountable for your reactions to your husband’s actions.
All this, the Bible says, is of "great worth in God's sight." Is this of great worth in your sight also; and if not, why not? Are you not required to have the mind or "attitude of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:5, NIV)? If you do not have this theology of suffering, iff you do not have this mind, you must first pursue it, and then you can worry about fixing your husband.
This is a theology of suffering!