Not too long ago I began praying that I would be a sympathetic wife. My husband has yet to find employment, and in many ways the outlook is no better than when we started. We came out of a ministry in which he was insulted, belittled, and criticized. He saw little fruit, and the doubts cast on him by others still haunt him in some ways. It has been a trying time for him. God is graciously working on him, molding him, maturing him into a better servant, pastor, husband and father. I am grateful for our Maker's work in the life of my husband.
But such refinement doesn't come without cost. There are times when I feel inadequate to uphold my husband, like those who held up Moses' arms as the people of God fought in battle. When his arms lowered, they would begin losing. I feel the pressure at times to hold my husband up, to be his helper as God has called me to be.
Part of holding him up is to be understanding- sympathetic. So, of course, I need the Lord's help. It is only He who can make my heart sensitive and soft enough to feel with my husband as he bears the weight of our family of four.
Yesterday, he got an envelope that contained a recent assignment from school. He poured over commentaries and Scripture of over a week putting together thirteen lessons on Job. In the midst of all this studying, of course, the trials came. His resignation was asked for, and in a whirlwind of events, we find ourselves in a new state with no income, and less severance than promised. But as he looked at the assignment, he saw his grade- 99%.
Good. An A.
Then, the comments. "Excellent!" "Amen!" "Yes."
And, "This is excellent, excellent work. You should submit this for publication," followed by the name of a personal contact of the professor in a small publishing house.
When my husband told me this, I exclaimed, "WOW!" I was truly excited. I was proud. I was so happy that he had a small victory. I knew what that meant to him at the time. It doesn't have to be published, nor doesn't even have to be submitted. The compliment was so much.
I was sympathetic. I was with him as I need to be always. God answered prayer in many ways in that moment through the comments of a professor from the Master's College. My sweet husband was encouraged. His wife was able to rejoice sincerely with him. And my guess is that it was exactly what he needed.