Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Fruit That Comes From Slogging Through the Hard Times in Marriage

I've mentioned before that I hate hard times. I doubt I am the only one, though for me, I am sure it is a sort of post-traumatic stress reaction to times in my life that were really, really hard. If I am not careful, I tend to shut down or run away from anything that requires me to face hard things: hard conversations, hard emotions, and hard situations. 

Thankfully, over time and (funnily enough!) through hard times, God has graciously been helping me  to not run for the hills or cut something completely out of my life if things are getting rough. That instinct is still there, but in many ways, the Spirit nudges me forward as I grasp Him with a white-knuckled hold.

This is most evident in my life with my wonderful marriage to my husband, Tim. Ten years down and we have just the best marriage. We are the best of friends. And yet, I can tell you that it has been during the times when we have been, in a way, the worst of enemies that we have forged our marriage into something deeper, richer, barer, and more delightful than it was before.



The "Better or For Worse"

It can be really disheartening when marriage seems like an endless struggle to not get on the wrong side of each other. How can the person we love the most also be the person that rubs us up the wrong way so frequently (and vice versa!)?

And it is overwhelming and awful when, for some reason that God only sees the full picture of, we are plunged into a season of great pain and heartache. There might be a time when we look at our husband and feel the most loneliest person on the planet. How can we be married to our best friend and yet, feel utterly alone and bereft?

At other times, forces outside of marriage buffet us both. Even though we cling to one another, the day-to-day grind amidst the storm sees us struggling to love one another in a way that helps and supports our husband, whilst we ourselves are struggling to stay afloat. 

Is there any fruit to such seasons? 

Is marriage just an endless slog of difficult feelings or times? 

Why did we not take these promised seasons more seriously when we walked rosey-cheeked down the aisle to the best of men we had ever met?

The Key To a Fruitful Marriage During Any Season


"Weeping may endure for the night,
but joy cometh in the morning."
~ Psalm 30:5 (KJV)

When committed to the Lord and when lain at His feet; when a husband and wife face the hard and pain and trials of marriage, I believe that God produces a fruit of godliness and true joy between them. Certainly, by His grace, it has been so in our own marriage.

This doesn't mean that the pain ends or that the trial does not have long-lasting consequences. And it doesn't mean that more trials won't come your way. The feelings that you have about your spouse or the struggle that you have with something will (most likely) not stop overnight. God has never promised a safe marriage to anyone.

(In fact, remember Hosea? God asked him to marry a prostitute to be an image to the Israelites of their unfaithfulness to Him as their God. And Hosea's wife didn't stop being unfaithful. Hosea's pain kept going.)

But...

...When finding joy, contentment, and purpose in God alone (and not your spouse) is your ultimate goal in all things, you will find that God produces fruit in you and your marriage that would never have manifested itself otherwise. 


Furthermore, when pleasing God - in both good times and hard times - matters more to you than your comfort, or happiness, or pleasant feelings, then fulfilling your marriage vow and role as a wife will be easier than doing anything else for your self's sake. 

The hard times - whether daily annoyances to deep bereavement - are God's call for us to lay it all at His feet and anchor ourselves deeper into Him personally so that, the Gospel can manifest itself in our own life, the life of our husband, and the life of our marriage.


What Kind of Fruit Will Come?


Now, when I say that fulfilling your vow as a wife will be 'easier', I'm not saying that loving your husband through betrayal or bankruptcy or a particular vexing sin will be easy. I mean that, by loving God with all that you have above all else, the overflow of that will be more grace, more compassion, more patience, more self-control, more endurance, more faithfulness, and more joy. 

Remember that Fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23)? All trials and tribulations and hardship will produce those wonderful, incredible, Christ-like qualities in your marriage. And even though that doesn't sound as exciting as a Hollywood movie of romance and thrills, the love your husband and yourself will have for each other will be deeper, more wonderful, more thrillingly caring, more mundane-ingly joyful than anything Hollywood could ever come up with.

After ten years of marriage, with some wonderful highs and horrible lows, I would go through each and every single hard moment and season again because of the kind of marriage we have now, through God's grace and kindness.




We had no clue what love was when we made our vows at the alter! And twenty years from now, we will probably think the same of our love right now!

I love what Elisabeth says about offering our marriages (or anything) up to God for His use:


"If we hold tightly to anything given to us unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used we stunt the growth of the soul. What God gives us is not necessarily 'ours' but only ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves. Many deaths must go into reaching our maturity in Christ, many letting goes."

Our marriages aren't ours to begin with. They are His, to be used for a witness to this world about Christ and His people. When things are easy or hard, is this your desire? Is this your goal for your marriage? as your husband's wife?

So if you are in a particularly hard time in your marriage right now, press into the Lord. Work on your own heart and your own issues, keeping your eyes on Him for yourself, and leaving your husband in the Lord's hands. No marriage is ever beyond His ability to repair, renew, and redeem if it's offered up to Him. And the fruit that will come will be gloriously good.

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

2 comments:

  1. Amen! My husband and I are also living proof that God can and does transform and restore marriages, even after tremendous betrayal and hurt, and your post is so needed, to encourage people that it is worth walking through these horrible trials by the grace of God. Thank you :-)

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  2. Gwen, how wonderful and good God is and what a testimony to His faithfulness and kindness. No-one and nothing are too far gone for His mercy to touch and restore. I pray that He will continue to use you both to help, encourage and bless others in their fight for their own marriage. Hugs! xxx

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