A sad young minister and his wife came to me for counseling recently. After four troubled years of marriage and two children, they were contemplating divorce. She was the saddest looking wife I have seen in years. Her husband, the young youth minister, stood nearby, shuffling his weight from foot to foot, while his teary-eyed wife sobbed out her confession to me.
It's very true that Jesus said to His disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me." But Jesus could not carry His cross - and neither can you! Jesus fell under the load of His cross, weary, exhausted, and unable to carry it another step. John said, "And he bearing his cross went forth into a place...called Golgotha" (John 19:17). the Bible doesn't tell us how far Jesus carried His cross. We do know they compelled Simon, the Cyrene, to pick it up and carry it to the place of crucifixion (Matthew 27:32).
What would you think if our president, addressing the nation on network TV, confessed — "We really don't know what to do! Your leaders are confused, and we have no sense of direction." That would be some kind of speech. The nation would be convulsed with ridicule and scorn for him and all his associates.
I preach to thousands, yet there are times I feel so very dry - so far away from the warm presence of God. In these moments of dryness, I have no great yearning to read the Word - the reading of the Bible is done mostly through a sense of obligation. When I'm dry and empty, I feel little compulsion to pray. I know my faith is intact, and my love for Jesus is strong. There is no desire in me to taste the things of this world. It's just that I can't seem to touch God in those days and weeks of spiritual dryness.
This message is for husbands and wives who want their marriage to succeed. It is also for those who are remarried and are finding it is necessary to work as hard, or harder, the second time. This message is also for the singles who hope to establish a good Christian home someday in the future.
This message is for honest marriage partners only. It is not for those who are looking for a way out of their marriage or who are wanting a way to simply exist in a bad arrangement.
The most difficult thing in all the world for Christians to do is forgive. For all the talk in the church about forgiveness, restitution, and healing, there is very little of it truly demonstrated. We all like to think of ourselves as peacemakers, lifters up of those fallen, always forgiving and forgetting. But even the most deeply spiritual today are guilty of wounding brothers and sisters by not showing a spirit of forgiveness.
In one way or another, we are all hurting. Everybody is in the same boat. Even the laughing, happy–go–lucky crowd is hurting. They try to hide their hurt by drinking and joking — but it won't go away.
Who hurts? The parents of a prodigal son or daughter. Millions of parents have been deeply wounded by a child who has rejected their counsel. Those loving parents grieve over the deception and delinquency of a child who was once tender and good.
The good news first! And, I'll tell you why. I find that people all over the nation are hungry for good news. There has been such a constant barrage of bad news, any good news seems like a ray of sunshine on a dark day. Sometimes we see only the bad side of things and forget that all around us, every day beautiful and uplifting things are happening. Let me share some of the good news we need to be reminded of.
1. THE DIVORCE RATE IS LEVELING OFF AND MAY SOON REVERSE ITSELF.
A growing number of ministers have been writing to me in recent months, telling of their concern for parishioners who are simply giving up. One minister wrote, "I see my church members trying so hard to cope with problems in their marriages and pressures in their personal lives. Just when it seems victory is within reach, they stumble and fall. Good, honest Christians are so often overwhelmed by guilt and condemnation, it causes despair. And when they can't live up to their own expectations - when they fall back into sin and get involved - they decide to give up.