Behind the Words


by Shirley Paz

“The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” Ex. 14:14

When God directed my attention to that verse, I had two responses: Certainty that the message was meant for me, and dismay.

Life in a dysfunctional marriage had depleted and depressed me. Frantic for security and truth, I thought, acted, and spoke out of hurt and fear. Keeping silent was not on my agenda. Letting my husband know I was wounded, earnestly trying to make him understand, and convincing him to change drove my beliefs, prayers, and words.

I already felt helpless. Keeping silent seemed like a quick path to letting my husband continue to wreck our marriage. How could I let myself be run over emotionally? How could I give up my voice — not express what I knew was God’s desire to heal our home?Depositphotos_139552166_4Web

But there was no getting around the truth that God handed me that verse with clarity. Somehow, because He and I did want to see healing happen, His promise was that while I did my part — remain still and voiceless for this period of time — HE would take up the battle. I would have to quiet the chaos of my heart while God waged a war in my husband’s.

I don’t believe that wives should passively endure mistreatment or accept wrongdoing. Nor does God. This was different. This was a challenge to trust God’s bigger plans and control, to learn the value of faithful steadfastness, and to deepen my dependence on the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was as much a call to enlarge my own interior space as it was a battle cry from God.

And so I began. It felt almost like a sacred tryst with God the Father — a secret between us. For my part, it was a sacrifice of words and will. On His part, it was newly opened room for Him to move into my husband’s mind and emotions. I decided to partially fast, in such a way that it wasn’t noticed, except by God. Prayer became less of a beg-fest and more of an unclenching of my soul. I sensed a partnership with God, which was a shift from feeling like a repetitive supplicant. I felt His power; it was all the more surprising because I had expected to feel weak, separated from my ammunition of words. I spoke what needed to be said for normalcy, but not more.

It took a while. The rhythms of God are not ours. My husband moved toward me with vulnerability, offering small slices of opened doors into his thinking. Transparent comments here and there turned into short, heard conversations. Because I didn’t respond with torrents of righteous explanations, the doors stayed open. I felt as if I could glimpse the light of God shining from behind what had previously been bolted and hidden.

Years later, I look back at that time — at that verse — with gratefulness for the lesson of silent, glorious battle. And not just in my husband’s life. The Lord fought for me also.

(Editor’s Note: At by design, it is our mission to train women to serve and influence others for Christ. I hope this edition of Woman to Woman helps you do just that. If so, please share this with the important women in your life. You can sign up to receive the Woman to Woman eNewsletter before it is available on the blog. 

This year we are reprising some of our favorite Summer Sampler articles from previous years. This article was originally published in 2009.) 

Shirley PazShirley Paz has served on the pastoral staff of West Church, Haverhill, MA, for 10 years and is currently the Director of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care. She is also a certified Spiritual Director, works with The Pax Center, and has been married since 1974.