Heart Stress and Marriage
“Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Luke 21:26
A Christian friend and Iraqi war veteran called me from a location where he was training for some fellowship about the Word. One of the things we talked about I felt impressed to share with readers of the Daily Thought and he kindly not only gave me permission, but also encouraged me to do so. In order to properly share with you the information he saw as so important I must discuss first the content of the Scripture passage and his own case history before finally revealing how it impacts many lives.
Careful consideration of our text reveals the subject of men’s hearts failing for fear is an ongoing human condition. It has a particularly prophetic implication in the Last Days as men are concerned about the things they see coming. But the reader should understand this: First the condition exists outside the concern for future events. And secondly, we focus on the concerns once experienced by my friend. The somatic condition that affected his life I saw many times in my years as a Christian Counselor.
The word for hearts failing them is the Greek word “apopsychō.” It is possible to get some inkling of related English words by just looking at it. Would it then surprise you to learn the Greek word for fear used in the text is “phobos” which is related to the word phobia? The word “phobos” is also used in reference to how a woman should respect her husband. When we see Scripture giving us language pictures about how we should live, we might conclude the Christian woman makes her dedication to reverencing her husband such an issue unsaved friends might conclude she treats him properly because she has a phobia! (Ephesians 5:22-33) But in this verse we are looking at the word in a negative sense.
Much has been written in medical journals about how stress, particularly certain kinds of stress is a killer. But it is only in recent years studies have been made of health benefits, including increased longevity, to be reaped from a healthy marriage, particularly marriage where Bible principles are practiced, whether the people are believers or not. God honors those who behave according to His precepts whether or not they know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. (Romans 2:12-15)
My friend, who I have known two decades, married many years ago a woman who made going to war preferable to going home. He began to daily suffer from debilitating headaches. During that time his visage became very haggard and I wondered if he was not going to suffer a heart attack. A medical doctor advised him he was suffering from stress related problems and if he wanted to get well he was going to have to make some changes in his life. Finally, after much struggling to avoid it, he moved out and his wife filed for divorce. His health has returned the less he has had to do with the woman and time has separated their lives. The same cannot be said about the former wife who has lived an ungodly life style and encouraged her daughters to do the same.
The truth is that what happened in his life was a great tragedy. He made the mistake of marrying in loneliness instead of being sure of the leadership of God in the matter. But the scenario played out in the marriage is a common one occurring today. The secular sources will often say one of the biggest stresses in marriages is debt or lack of money, but that is not true. Down through history most people have been poor and a great many have had good marriages. The greatest problem in marriages is people wanting to get out of the marriage their desires without putting into the marriage what the person they married needs.
In my friends’ case his stress came from the verbal abuse of the woman he married and her refusal to cooperate with ordering their marriage along scriptural lines. My friend would tell you he considers himself far from perfect in how he handled things as well. But the basic issue making for successful marriage is for each person to focus on what they are supposed to do to make the marriage work and not spending their time demanding the other person make all the accommodations. As a counselor, when I could get couples to recognize and change their behavior in this regard, the marriage was not only saved, it was transformed.
One fellow I knew nearly thirty years ago found out he had a heart problem after twenty years of unhappy marriage. He refused all medical intervention seeing the condition as his way out. Stress had taken its toll but his fear was living longer in his unhappy situation. To me that was a real and unnecessary tragedy!
P. O. Box 752
Buchanan, Georgia 30113