I am going to say something that is widely unpopular and will probably garner a few negative comments. But I feel very convicted to say this in light of the NUMEROUS marriages that I know that are falling apart and crumbling.
First of all, let me say, I speak from experience. Tiffany and I by no means have had the perfect marriage. In fact we almost divorced after only 1 year because of my addiction at the time and because of me being a legalistic jerk. She too had her own issues that she will tell you about if you ask her. But the bottom line is we quickly fell out of love just as quickly as we fell in.
That was 15 years ago. There’s too much to tell on a FB post as to how we survived what we did…the recovery process…counseling…numerous times of having no money…losing jobs…family struggles…communication problems…nearly losing our son…the shouting matches that got the police called on us…having a special needs child…and on and on.
What kept us together? God. And discovering a simple truth that many don’t know today. That marriage is not about MY happiness. It is about giving God glory.
As a minister of 20 years, that is what I see as the greatest death nail in the coffin of so many marriages. Its the same death nail of a person’s relationship with God. Its the same death nail of a church that is dying. Its the same death nail of a person who coming to the end of their life through self destruction. And that is this… they see marriage as something to get something out of it, instead of something to pour into, for the sake of giving God glory.
Ephesians 5 tells us that marriage is a parable–a living parable–between Christ and his church. That means that the husband/wife relationship on this earth is to be a mirror image of the Divine Relationship that exists in heaven.
This means that marital love is also covenant love. Here is a description of covenant love from I Corinthians 13…
4 “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails…”
Can I also add that covenant love is based on what YOU choose to do for the other person. Its not based on whether the other person is choosing to do these things for you.
Whenever I hear of marriages that are failing all I ever hear about is all the wrongs that the other person has done. And maybe they have done wrong, most of us humans have. But what if we could step aside with our feelings for a season and start loving the way God calls us to love our spouse? Start living the parable of Christ and his church? Be willing to suffer wrong in order to stand for what is good and right?
In the times when I have seen such brave couples do that…miracles happen. The same God who breathes planets into existence, the same God who parts the seas, the same God who forcefully puppeteers an evil king’s heart to do His bidding, the same God who raises the dead, the same God who causes the miracle of rebirth….is the same God who brings healing to marriages.
And that thing I said earlier about happiness? You see, I said that marriage isn’t about our happiness. And its not. But here is the secret. When you surrender your marriage fully over to God, and God brings a miracle of healing in your marriage, then you discovery true real lasting happiness. Happiness that can only come when your marriage is based on selfless love, not on “what I can get out of it.”
Now this is no commentary on those sad occasions when there is physical abuse in the relationship. In fact if there is physical abuse, I have the couple separate immediately and go into counseling. God calls no one to endure physical abuse.
But let me tell you, I have seen marriages shattered, where both spouses have done the unthinkable to each other, where both parties have been the perfect picture of brokenness, sin, and fallenness. And here’s the beautiful thing. Its IN THOSE TIMES where the living parable of Christ and his church is so important, because as we live out the parable, we can experience firsthand the miracle of redemption, forgiveness, freedom, and ultimate joy.
If you are a Christian, don’t EVER say that your marriage is beyond hope. That is honestly a commentary on your faith in your marriage, not on God’s ability. Stop thinking that this life is all about our personal happiness and what you can “get out of it.” Its not about you, its about God. Start looking at how you can give God glory in the midst of your struggles, instead of looking for the first opportunity to get out of them and avoid them. Don’t you know that some of the greatest blessings come from the greatest trials? God says in the book of Malachi 2:6 that he HATES divorce. Even in the case of adultery, God never commands divorce. He allows it because of the hardness of our hearts, but he never commands it.
Don’t you see…what is at the root of the broken relationship is sin. At some point in your marriage you stopped pointing the finger at Satan your Enemy and you started pointing it at each other. God is for you together and not against you.
Now, you will need help to get through the struggles, I promise you that. My wife and I could have never gotten through our struggles had we not had people in our lives…counselors and friends…to get us through and to give us the tools we needed in our toolbox to be successful. But the important thing is that we NEVER gave up. And we both believed that our marriage was about something greater than our own personal happiness…that it was about giving God glory.
So choose today in your marriage to give God glory. If that is your heart’s desire, then anything is possible.