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How to thrive in family life

The Power of the Fourth Man: Hope for hurting families.

Dear wife and mom,

If you’re struggling in your marriage or with your kids; if your circumstances seem horribly irreversible, I want you to know that the power of the Fourth Man is available to transform your family and save it from the fiery flames that come to destroy you and your loved ones.

***

When I consider my more than rocky start in family-life, I’m amazed that my family is still standing.

It seemed I had an awful lot of strikes against me . . .

First, I was a teen mom, then pregnant out of wedlock (again!), church discipline (ouch!), Irish twins (yikes!), rapid baby multiplication – four kids within the first three years of marriage (wholly molly!), marginal finances and differing views on parenting were just some of the ingredients that went into what was quickly becoming a recipe for my families’ disaster.

This cocktail mix of family woes might have been a cake walk for other couples to manage, but for this idealistic and spoiled young mom who grew up in a lifestyle of relative ease and comfort, on most days, it seemed more than I could bear.

I kicked and screamed – both figuratively and literally; I threw fits and house hold items.

I pretty much hated my life. 

I wished I could have a do-over. I sat more than once to ponder my escape route.

On one particularly bad day, when I thought I’d reached the end of capacity to take any more, I hid on the side of my bed; crying and holding my head for fear that my brains would spill out.

I was overcome with exhaustion, the constant demands of parenting, pain from marital strife, and the death of dreams.

I. W.A.S. D.O.N.E!

Or more specifically . . . I was UNdone.

This “girl wasn’t on fire” (as the pop-culture song says) – this girl was in the fire . . . I was being engulfed by the fiery flames of everyday family-life, and the flames were consuming me.

How Jesus Met Me in the Fire

Daniel chapter 3 recounts the riveting story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:  three nice Jewish boys who were commanded to fall down and worship a golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

After refusing to bow, the three men were bound and thrown into a “burning fiery furnace” to face a torturous death.

But it was there in the fire that Jesus, the Fourth Man, manifested himself and released them from every oppressive weight and shackle that had been used to bind them.

The king was astonished and said, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (vs. 24-25)

As I was in the fire of despair and I began to go down in flames, I cried out to the Lord.

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.”  (Psalm 18:6)

God began working on my heart and showing me that my life wasn’t really any different than anyone else’s.

My life wasn’t the problem.  I was the problem!

Yes, I was facing some challenging situations, but my circumstances weren’t going to change.  God would have to change me.

God began to show me that:

This was life.  God had never promised that my life would be a bed of roses.  He promised to never leave me or forsake me, to walk with me through the valley, and to equip me to stand against the wilds of the enemy.  I had to change my perception; I needed to begin to give thanks.

I was weak – willed.  God would have to build into me the emotional and spiritual fortitude necessary to do family-life well.  Essentially, my days of hiding and crying under my bed were coming to an end.

I was misinformed.  I had a poor understanding of what the Bible said regarding marriage and parenting.  I had to get a ton of worldly thinking out of my head.

And most of all . . .

I needed to be like Jesus.  God was using my marriage and motherhood as the ultimate crucible in making me more like Him.  I was going to have to decide daily – sometimes several times a day – if my actions were going to glorify Jesus Christ or myself.

The Unfinished Outcome

By man’s standards, my husband and I should have gone under: we should have lost our marriage and the fabric of our family should have been torn to shreds.

Yet, because of prayer, the word of God, the work of the Holy Spirit, Biblical counseling, and God’s great grace, the raging flames of marital strife, parenting, lack of financial resources, and unmet expectations did not consume my family.

“When you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.”  (Isaiah 43:2b)

Today, I am completely in awe over how God’s hand has sustained my family and has kept us intact.

We have not just survived, we have thrived!  

This is because of God’s leading and intervention in our lives, and the Lord teaching me how to not be a woman who tears down her own home. . .

“The wise woman builds her house,
    but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”  (Proverbs 14:1)

Yes, we are far from perfect, but we still belong to the Lord and we take refuge under the shadow of His mighty wings.

“How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” (Psalm 36:7)

And if God did it for me, he can do it for anyone!

A changed life,


 
 
 
 

My life verse . . . 

“Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house (family), that You have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18b)

I’ve shared this post at these fabulous faith and family link-ups.

Comments

  1. Oh yes, Jesus meets us in the fire, at the bottom of the pit, in the stormy sea.

    He reaches out His hand and saves us from ourselves, in the midst of our circumstances, our pain, our hopelessness.

    What a wonderful Savior!

    • Yes, Indeed, Linda! I particularly love that He saves us from ourselves. Blessings to you and thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. What a beautiful family you have, Tiffiney! And I love what you say about being a girl in the fire and not “on fire” like the song so proudly proclaims. I have been a girl and woman in the fire many, many times, but like you, God has taught me so much through those fiery trials–that “fourth man!” That’s another intriguing and powerful truth about your post, my friend! Great thoughts!

    • Hi Ifeoma! Good hearing from you. Yes, I love that title: the Fourth Man. Our God is so amazing! He has so many wonderful names…even the ones I make up. 😊

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