"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
~Ephesians 6:12 (NIV 1984)

It was 1992. I sat on the bed, tears streaming down my face, negative thoughts racing through my mind... Why does marriage have to be so hard sometimes? Why can't he see my side of things? Why won't he change? Maybe I married the wrong man.

This was a scene repeated over and over the first five years of my marriage. I was discouraged, overwhelmed and so tempted to give up.

But here I am 19 years later, feeling so thankful I didn't walk away.

Ephesians 6:12 has reminded me over the years that my husband isn't my enemy. Art may feel like my enemy, but the truth is Satan is the real enemy who hates marriage and schemes against my husband and me.

Satan's goal is always to be one who casts something between two to cause a separation.

Satan wants to separate us in every way. He wants to separate us with conflict, hurt feelings, misunderstanding, and frustrations of all kinds.

He wants to separate us from our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers, our parents, our spouses, our kids.

He wants to separate us from God's best. He wants to separate us from God's heart.

One of the strategic ways Satan starts these separations is by luring us into a place of grumbling and complaining. If he can get us to focus on what is aggravating and downright negative in life, then little cracks of distance start forming in our relationships.

The grass starts looking greener everywhere else except where we are standing.

I can see this so clearly when I look back on the first five years of my marriage. Somehow, I became so hyper focused on all I felt was wrong with my husband, I became blinded to all that was good.

I grumbled and complained and nagged and set out to change him.

And I almost destroyed my marriage in the process.

Satan had a field day as the separation between Art and I kept ever widening. We went to counseling but my heart was so hurt—so hardened, I refused to connect on any level. I was bitter, grumpy and miserable.

Then one day as I was in a fit of tears asking God to please make things better, I felt challenged to start listing out things about Art that for which I was thankful.

It was hard at first. I had bought Satan's whispers seeing only the negative and believing there was very little positive to find.

But, with each positive quality I listed, slowly my perspective changed. It was as if the clouds of negativity lifted and I could see his good qualities once again.

How sad that I spent five years thinking the grass would be greener somewhere else. Now I know the grass is always greener where you water and fertilize it. And being thankful — really intentionally listing out things for which we are thankful — is a great way to start watering and fertilizing. It changes everything.

Dear Lord, thank You for helping me see how beneficial it is to be aware and appreciative of the good qualities in those I love. Lord, help me to recognize Satan's schemes and combat them with the power of having a truly thankful heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Every time a negative, separating thought comes into your mind today, intentionally combat it with something for which you are thankful about that person.

Reflections:

  • How does it make me feel to dwell on what I wish was different about another person?
  • Could this devotion showing up in my inbox today be a reminder from God that there are positive things for which I can be thankful?
  • How does having a thankful heart change things?

Lysa TerKeurst  is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith through following Jesus Christ. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa has led thousands to make their walk with God an invigorating journey. Lysa's bookWhat Happens When Women Say Yes to God now has a 6 week DVD series that is perfect for women's Bible Study groups. For more information click here. Find more from Lysa and the rest of the Proverbs 31 team in the Encouragement for Today devotionals available at Crosswalk.com.

Publication date: September 7, 2011