Marriage Struggles: The Key to Endurance
By: Amanda Idleman
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. - Romans 5:3 (NLT)
Biblical marriage is about commitment, growth, and patience. It is not about getting what you think you deserve.
A friend of mine recently went through a separation. The response she most frequently received from people who heard her story was, “Oh honey, you deserve better.” Thankfully, she did not follow this misguided advice. She and her husband were able to reconcile. On the surface, the response from her friends and family seems compassionate and kind, but it’s so far from reflecting a biblical worldview of marriage.
Romans 5:3 reminds us that in this life we will run into problems and trials. Frankly, it’s pretty likely that some of those problems are going to stem from your marriage. Marriage, while a beautiful gift, can also act as a mirror in our lives- bringing our insecurities and failures into focus. For many of us, it can be difficult to lean into a relationship that challenges us. Nonetheless, when times get tough the Bible encourages us to develop endurance. In fact, Romans 5:3 makes it clear that tough times are actually the conduit for growing in endurance. We aren’t called to justify walking away because we reason that we could do better.
In the case of my friend after the initial honeymoon period of their marriage wore away and conflicts started to arise between them, her husband totally freaked out and backed away from his marriage. He grew up with parents who never modeled healthy conflict management, and at the time he wasn’t walking with the Lord. The only thing he knew to do was to run away when things started feeling rocky.
While his response was wrong, he didn’t respond this way because he didn’t love his wife. He didn’t have the skills to navigate the next phase of their relationship. His wife, while heartbroken, didn’t give up! She began to lean into her faith. She prayed fervently for her lost husband. Sure enough, an older faith-filled gentleman entered her husband's life while he was away who had gone through a divorce in his youth. God used the experience of this man to sow seeds of truth into her husband’s heart- just when he needed it!
During this time period, it would have been easy for them both to justify seeking out new and seemingly better romantic relationships. Their decision to give it some time before jumping into the next more exciting thing gave God the time He needed to work a miracle on their behalf. If someone new had entered the picture it would have closed the door for reconciliation between them.
The takeaway from their story is: when you face trials, lean into Jesus! Seek Him in prayer. He wants to do great things on your behalf and he wants to see you endure these tough times. Don’t let the lie that the “grass is greener” elsewhere pull apart the union God has entrusted you with. He’s put you in the marriage you have for a reason. That reason may not always be about having the easiest life together.
More than likely you’ve been given a mate that has very different strengths, weaknesses, and preferences than you do. These sometimes challenging differences are there to help you grow in your character and ability to love beyond what feels easy.
God himself models this with his sacrifice on the cross. He showed us big-time love when we were still sinners who only deserved death. It may not feel like our spouses always deserve that kind of love from us, but sacrificial love is precisely the love that God wants us to have for each other.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes about all things motherhood for Richmond Macaroni Kid, creates devotions for Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, and is a regular contributor for the marriage/family/homeschool/parenting channels on Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda at rvahouseofjoy.com or follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.
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