A friend sent me a copy of a blog yesterday. It was a blog sharing the loss of another Christian marriage. I’d already read it, but I opened it…just to glance at it again. As if to remind myself what had just happened to this lovely Christian woman. And fresh heartache came to me…not just for her and her family, but for the many husbands and wives who have had to walk this path. Who have had to end a marriage through divorce because of the choice of a spouse to abandon.
Every week I hear at least one story of a marriage ending. Every. Single. Week. Sometimes more than once a week. It is always, always sad, but sometimes I find myself numb to it. As though, my thoughts are, “Oh. Again? Yes, of course.” It’s those words, “again” and “of course” that cause a deep sigh.
But I will admit that reading her blog shook me…a lot. My thought was, “Lord, what in the world?!? Can anyone to be trusted?” I know the answer is a resounding, “YES!” but doesn’t it sometimes feel that the answer is “Well, probably not”?
I hear it echoed in conversations with my children who, although each wants to be married with a family, feel that nothing is guaranteed…no covenant is necessarily going to be kept. It’s a reality of our world that relationships are often viewed as disposable, but dang…
I asked my son Peter, who desperately wants a tattoo, if he would consider getting one on his ring finger when he gets married some day. He said, “No way, Mom! What if it didn’t work out?” My heart breaks.
My daughter Emma recently shared with me that even if a young man presents himself as a believer, how is she to truly know? What if he is just faking it? What then? I didn’t have an answer, except trust God.
That is a good answer for anything…for everything actually.
Marriage isn’t something we humans came up with…I believe God created and designed the covenant of marriage as the perfect picture of His covenant with us.
And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and to your offspring after you. Genesis 17:7
This covenant God made with His people – to never leave us or forsake us, to love us always – is beautiful. A perfect God binding Himself in covenant with his very imperfect people.
And when two imperfect people bind themselves together in the covenant of marriage it is also a beautiful thing…to promise before God to love, honor, and respect one another, to live beside one another, united, committed to love until death…what a gift! What a blessing!
Maybe it’s social media…all the stories we read. Maybe it’s the ease of communication, the open sharing, the willingness to sin in public…I don’t know, but it feels as though a barrage of bad things is raining down sometimes.
And I wonder if this is just the world now…vows and covenants and promises are truly disposable – just things that can be thrown away when they are no longer useful, relevant, or fun.
It seems that working on a relationship is viewed as unnecessary. Why should we have to do that? Things should just be blissfully wonderful all the time. Right? Not in my experience.
Why is working seen as a bad thing anyway? We work towards many things we want…work towards getting, keeping or excelling at a job. Work towards health. Work towards fitness. Work towards organization. Work towards goals.
Why is working towards a better marriage not considered a viable option by some. Why do some bail? I don’t understand. I really truly don’t.
No person is perfect. No relationship is without bumps – we, men and women, are made differently…wonderfully different. God’s design. And through relationship we grow, are refined, are challenged, are strengthened…through relationships God does amazing things in our lives…or not – if we don’t let Him. If we are unwilling to invest in each other, to love sacrificially, to value one another, to fight for “us”, what hope is there for relationships that truly reveal the glorious covenant relationship we share with each other and with God?
Oh dear – I will step off my soapbox (a little bit…)
There is a way God wants me to see things.
All along, from the beginning, God had a plan for what marriage would be…what it would mean…what it would reveal about Him.
Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church because we are members of his body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33
We have twisted and tried to destroy that revelation, but God has not changed His plan or His vision for what this beautiful covenant means.
This covenant of love between us…the Bridegroom and His bride.
It is not shaken by man’s sin…not denied its power nor its message. Not shattered like so many happily ever afters…
It remains intact…strong as from the beginning of time…firm in its foundation…held together by the very God who holds the stars in their places.
Unshaken…never ending…never forsaking…never forgetting…unchanging…unaffected by time or tears or tests…always…forever…
My hope for marriage might wobbly a bit with each end of marriage message…but even in these moments of misery God is not absent. He reminds me that He is the covenant keeper who never fails. He will never abandon His children, His bride.
There is always hope because there is always God.
And when others share their stories of marriages ending, there is still hope. Because as a dear friend pointed out, we don’t hear about the marriages going along smoothly…the marriages where grace, love and respect thrive, not perfectly but beautifully. Mess gets the most attention.
But maybe we need to look beyond the mess and see the Bridegroom before us. See the One who takes care of the Covenant completely. Who doesn’t need us to do anything but trust that He has got it covered.
My marriage covenant shattered…my faith did not.
My spouse abandoned…my Savior never will.
My hope wavered…my Hope remains.
My future seemed uncertain…His plan stands firm.
God’s covenant to be our God…to be with us always…to love us relentlessly, unconditionally, unceasingly…to provide an eternal inheritance beyond our imaginings…that Covenant will never shatter.
As we sojourn here, whether married, divorced, widowed, or single, it is our joy to remember that our Father is with us always. There is no place, no circumstance, no sin beyond His reach…there is no person beyond His reach. So as we pray for one another, encourage one another, identify with one another, weep or rejoice with one another, let us never forget the One who keeps the most important Covenant strong and unwavering. The One who knows what betrayal feels like, the One who felt abandonment, the One who choose to trust and obey in circumstances beyond our imaginings. This is the One who goes before us, the One who stands beside us, the One who is always with us, the One who never, never leaves us nor forsakes us.
When I was in the thick of things a few years back this verse brought me comfort:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
Jesus understood, still does. He beckons us to trust confidently…to approach Him without fear…to know that He has all that we need.
The Covenant is secure.