As most of you know when trouble rears its ugly head in one’s marriage, most of us, if not all of us, seek some sort of advice or help outside our own experience. Whether it is from our family or from friends, from associates, possibly even from professional counselors and help organizations where we live. Yet, if we are ‘wise,’ we look to our faith (church) support, our church leaders, our pastors, or even church recommended helpers. All this is said to bring us to seek what true help ‘looks like’ as I find it in 2 Corinthians in the Holy Bible.
He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 (ERV)
He [God] comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 (MSG)
Max Lucado in UpWords for the week of July 14-20, 2017, states that you and I did not sign up for a crash course in our troubles (troubled marriages). Yet, it has been thrust upon us. “How did we get here?” It was God Who enrolled you and I in this crash course. You may ask “why?” God, seeing the mistakes made in our marriages, takes you and me down a path none of us wish to travel; but in doing so, He teaches us something about marriage. He teaches us about love, respect, compassion, and about covenant. Most of this we have known ‘in parts’ from our own marriages, but that knowledge is filled with many gaps that have led to the failure of our respective marriages.
God in His infinite wisdom realized that for stubborn people like you and me to benefit from our marriage problems, we need examples, templates, etc. to follow. What better way is there than to look to those couples who have walked these paths before us, those who cried out to God for His help in solving their own marriage problems. They cried out: “Why, Lord? Why is this happening to me?” God turns the question around and says that we should ask: “God, what?” The real question is: “What can I learn from this experience?”
God’s shows us that our mess has become His message. Thus, when we are going through marriage problems, God comes alongside, instilling faith and knowledge so we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. In many marriage ministries, God brings you and me alongside someone who is going through similar situations. Thus, our path becomes an example, a template for others to build on which becomes their own marriage recovery story. In the 2nd Corinthians passage, we are sharing the same comfort with others that God shared with us as we walked this all too common path of marriage failure. Our ultimate goal is marriage restoration and reconciliation.
The Bible is God’s template, His ‘blue print’ for our lives. He asks us, you and me, to read and understand His message about love of, respect of, support of and faithfulness to our spouse, our partner, until we are parted by physical death. Marriage in God’s eyes does not end with the death of a marriage relationship with a legal document called divorce. God states that He hates divorce, as found below in the book of Malachi chapter 2, here rendered into contemporary language by Dr. Eugene Peterson in The Message.
And here’s a second offense: You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don’t get what you want from GOD. Do you know why? Simple. Because GOD was there as a witness when you spoke your marriage vows to your young bride, and now you’ve broken those vows, broken the faith-bond with your vowed companion, your covenant wife. GOD, not you, made marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage. And what does he want from marriage? Children of God, that’s what. So guard the spirit of marriage within you. Don’t cheat on your spouse. “I hate divorce,” says the GOD of Israel. GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies says, “I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.” So watch yourselves. Don’t let your guard down. Don’t cheat. Malachi 2:13-16 (MSG)
While the message in Malachi is very specific and spoken from the male perspective, it is equally condemning of the female role in marriage breakdown. In God’s eyes, each spouse is responsible for the success or failure of a marriage. Each bears responsibility for its success or failure. Romans 3:23-24 states… “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Divorce is not the answer to marriage problems. Jesus Christ is the answer. He comes alongside of us, just as He has done thousands and thousands of times in the past with other couples with marriage problems. Their path to restoration can be your path to restoration.
Invite God to “come alongside” as you walk these uncharted waters in your marriage. Then be willing to walk alongside others as they start down the trail you have blazed. Jesus Christ is our example, as He walked alongside each of us. Share His love with those whose lives intersect yours. This is your testimony and destiny of helping others as you are rebuilding your own marriage relationship.
May God bless your walk with Him, sharing His teachings about marriage with those individuals and couples you have extended a helping hand, by walking alongside them.
Walking alongside each of you, showing you what standing is all about, standing firm on the covenant marriage vows we each shared with our spouse, vows witnessed by God Himself, until we are parted by death.
Ben in Texas