God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. —Matthew 5:9
We’ve covered so many aspects of doing marriage right. First, we laid the foundation by explaining that marriage is a covenant relationship between one man and one woman. From that, we moved forward and learned that marriage can be a perpetual honeymoon, that we can live happily even after with our God-given mate. Next, we examined the importance of developing effective communication skills that take into account the inborn differences between men and women. That led us into our study of love as the overriding key to a healthy, joyous marriage, which hopefully will guide us when we face the unavoidable conflicts that come in life. Finally, we took a close look at the rules of combat we need to follow when dealing with confrontation and the importance of a couple establishing a new home of their own while maintaining ties to their families of origin. When those six principles are established in the heart and demonstrated in appropriate action, any marriage is well on the way to being all that it can be as a reflection of Christ’s undying love for His church.
But when the potential of marriage is never fulfilled, what do we do? Where does it leave us when we have sought to be the peacemaker in our home, but our every effort has been rebuffed by an unbelieving spouse? Which way do we turn when we have been abused, betrayed, or rejected by the one who was supposed to complete us? I know some of you have found yourselves in a situation like that and are thinking, “Things can never change in my marriage. I’m stuck in this dead relationship.” Others of you may be thinking, “The damage is too great to overcome”; or “I made the wrong choice in the first place.” In other words, there is a very real question that must be answered: What do we do when everything goes wrong?
Remember, friends, God is perfect, and so are all His plans, including His plan for marriage. If you will give honest effort to the things you’ve learned from His Word thus far, you will see change for the better—even if the only change you see is in you. In God’s economy, marriage is a holy institution, loved and created by Him. It is not a feelings-based set of contractual obligations that can be freely broken whenever emotions change. It requires hard work, compromise, communication, and a commitment to permanence. Here’s a gentleman who understood that clearly: Satan burst into a church one Sunday, frightening everyone so badly that all but one old man fled from the building in terror. This older gentleman remained calmly seated in the front row.
Puffing himself up to his full stature, Satan got right in the old man’s face and bellowed, “Do you know who I am?” “Yup,” was the old man’s one-word answer.
“Aren’t you afraid of me?” Satan hissed.
“Nope,” came the calm reply.
Perplexed by the exchange, Satan demanded, “Why not, old man? Why aren’t you
afraid of me?”
“I ain’t afraid of nothin’,” the man responded. “I’ve been married to your sister for
almost fifty years.”
That story may make you chuckle, but the sad truth is, some people are married to very difficult people. Not everyone lives in a fairy-tale marriage. Problems are real and sometimes even devastating. So what do you do when everything goes wrong in your marriage?
Let me start by saying something that seems so obvious yet needs stating: God is with you in the midst of any problem! Whatever it is, no matter how terrible, God sees and God cares. We have the sure promise of Psalm 147:3–5 to hold on to: “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!”
Do not miss the majesty of what you just read. The God who names and numbers the stars, the God of infinite power and understanding, cares about your wounds and even bandages them for you! This is the heart of the Lord for those of you who have seen everything go wrong in your marriage. Don’t ever forget it: God cares and desires to be actively involved in healing your pain.
I will remind you once again that I am not writing to you of things I think or things I feel are true. I am writing to you from the position of personal experience. I have seen God take a marriage that could not have been any more dead and breathe life into it and make it into something it never was. He took what I made my marriage into and transformed it into what He intended all along. When two people are willing to cooperate with Him and submit to His plan, there is always hope for beauty from ashes, joy from mourning. These words are not pontification from me—they are my testimony!
Excerpt from “Happily… Even After” now available on Amazon.