“Son of man, behold, I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow; but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come.”
In the verses following this, Ezekiel’s wife dies and the prophet does what God instructed him to do: not mourn. As a husband, myself, I thought about what Ezekiel must have been dealing with and two things stood out to me along with a third that is not so much about what is, but about what can sometimes be.
First, what Ezekiel is enduring. We never once read about Ezekiel’s wife being a scold or telling him to stop doing these crazy things that God instructs him. Not once. This is powerful, because King David had a wife who scolded him for his exuberance and excitement at the return of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. God was … displeased with her rebuke. But not one time do I read about Ezekiel’s wife scolding him for the crazy stuff God tells him to do. And God told Ezekiel to do some things that would have most wives on the phone with a shrink trying to schedule their husband an appointment. Not Ezekiel’s wife. This woman’s silence and absence from the insanity of what her husband is called to endure as a prophet is telling. What is more, it is clear that Ezekiel loves her dearly, as God calls her the desire of [Ezekiel’s] eyes. This man longs to see his wife and God’s calling does not always allow him to do so. Now, God is telling this man that his wife, whose absence of chastisement I take as tacit support and whom he longs to see, is going to be taken by God.
Ezekiel knows that it is coming. I can imagine him trying, and failing, not to let his eyes linger on her that last night. Trying to memorize everything about her and knowing that he will not see her again this side of Heaven. There are men who endure this as their wives waste away from some illness. They know that the end is coming. Ezekiel was given one day’s notice. If, as I suppose, his wife was a support and steadying influence; if she prayed for and with him and encouraged him when the people would not listen and talked to him during the time that God had made him mute and helped him prepare for the crazy times like lying naked in the street as a sign to the people. If she saw him shave all of his hair off and, as I suppose, told him that it would grow back and, anyway, she kind of liked not being prickled by his facial hair when he kissed her. If she was, in short, the kind of wife I imagine her to be (incidentally, the kind of wife with which God has blessed me), then to lose her would leave Ezekiel feeling crippled. His strength would come from God and God alone.
And that is where the two things stood out.
First, Ezekiel’s wife, though I do not recall ever learning her name, must have been an exemplary woman of faith. And that, as stated in Proverbs, is a rare thing. As I thought about it; about what Ezekiel had to endure, I realized that she had to endure it right alongside him. Every nutty thing he did at God’s command, she would be questioned about. Every time God told him to do something humiliating, she would go home and weep at the shame her husband had to bear. Because the two become one flesh and the shame and struggle of one is the shame and struggle of the other. This drove home for me how blessed I am in my wife. I do not anticipate God calling me to absurdities as examples to American society, but one never knows. What I do know is that my wife would be there. That is both encouraging and humbling.
Second, the loss of his wife would have left him feeling like he was missing his dominant arm. So, too, would I feel crippled at the loss of my wife. There are so many things that she does without effort that I am not even sure I know how to do at all. She might object that I can do them just fine, but I either do not want to do them or simply choose not to. And that is the point. Things that are effortless for her are arduous for me. How hobbled would I be if God were to take that from me? How dependent on God would I need to be to persevere in the face of that? That, too, is encouraging and humbling. Encouraging in that it reaffirms my love for and reliance on my wife as my help mate. Humbling in that the reliance on God necessary to endure such a loss feels beyond me.
There is a third thing that came along for the ride on this one. Sometimes God allows His children — especially His faithful children — to become object lessons. There is comfort for Ezekiel in the statement of God that He is taking Ezekiel’s wife. God is taking her. Ezekiel knows where to find her. The point of her removal was not Ezekiel, but the people around him. This reminded me of 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are [sharers] of our comfort.
Sometimes, I think, the things I endure are not for my benefit, but for the benefit of others. It is not all about me. It is about God reaching the lost in whatever way possible.
My recap for this morning: I am blessed in my wife; To lose the help and support of my wife would leave me feeling crippled and completely and utterly dependent on God just to get through the day; Sometimes what happens to me is not about me, but about those who will see what I endure and how.