On our wedding day our vows seem so easy to say. We’re so in love. Everyone else’s marriage had trouble, but somehow our marriage is going to be different. It’s almost like we’ll live happily ever after.
And then situations in life occur that were supposed to only happen to other people.
Trials. Of many kinds. God using them to perhaps soften our edges, strengthen our weak spots, and deepen our faith and trust in Him as we, even if just dimly, reflect His love to our partner.
A Beautiful Example
Here’s a story of a trial that came in the married life of my wife Joanne’s grandparents, Case & Henny. It’s a story of sticking with it…in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish…till death do us part.
Joanne’s grandparents endured the second world war in their teens. They met each other in their late teens, were engaged for quite some time, wanting to get married, but due to lack of housing in a war-torn country they could find no where to settle. Emigration to Canada was looking like the best option. With a trip by boat arranged to leave on June 14,1951, they were married on June 6, barely a week before they would leave everything they knew behind! Two weeks at sea…and a whole new world ahead!
They eventually settled in Smithville, Ontario. Grandpa Case got work and worked long hours supporting his family; Grandma Henny stayed home taking care of the 4 children they had. Together working hard raising a family in this new country they began to call home.
Then things took a turn.
Grandpa Case was diagnosed in 1982, at the young age of 57, with a tumor on his brain. It was cancerous and had to removed through a 9-hour operation. Everything went well with the operation in that Grandpa Case survived except that because of the intensity of the surgery and some nerve damage that occurred, he lost all movement on the left side of his body and was never able to walk again. As a matter of fact his health slowly declined for another 13 years until he passed away in 1995, the year when our second son, Daniel was born. Grandpa Case got to see Daniel and even in his weak and feeble condition was so excited.
The amazing thing in all of the 13 years was Grandma’s care for Grandpa. In arriving home from the hospital, Grandma immediately began taking care of him – from feeding him, to taking care of the healing wounds from surgery, to helping him get dressed every day. Thirteen years she selflessly took care of him and for 13 years she never complained, never doubted God’s provision, and never doubted her role in her marriage – vows she made before God to Case so long ago… vows she probably never realized would ever be lived out this way. But she never wavered because she knew God was faithful in all situations.
God often uses situations involving people closest to us to do the greatest work in our hearts, minds, and souls. In these situations of trial God always has a purpose for the pain when we commit the pain to Him and His will. (Romans 8:28)
Grandma was an exemplary model of a dependent follower of Jesus taking care of her life-long partner despite what it cost her. There were no retirement travels, no anniversary trips, no winter retreats. Just simple serving day by day in a small house in a small town. Faithfully and cheerfully fulfilling her vows, “…in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part…” and leaving a legacy of a servant heart for us all to remember and share to this day.
Her love was deep and real and anchored in someone outside of herself – her Lord Jesus. He too gave His life in an even greater way – His life for her, and for us at the cross – despite what it cost Him! He saw through it and pictured the whole family of God gathered at the best wedding ever – the Great Marriage feast of the Lamb.
No matter where your marriage may be, be prepared to face trials. Some trials, like sorting out disagreements, can be controllable; some, like health challenges are not so controllable. But stick to the commitment you made and work things through always looking to the good of your spouse and maybe even remembering how Grandma selflessly served her husband in her marriage, but above all remembering the sacrificially work Jesus made for us His Bride. May we love and forgive as we have been so loved and forgiven.
We need to regularly stop and pray and ask God to have a presence in our marriage. We’ll need His strength and guidance to trust what He is doing day by day and ask Him how He might be molding and shaping us, even bending and breaking us, through the trials, so that we increase in our awareness of a constant reliance on Him. All the while forgiving, living, loving and giving ourselves for the sake of our spouse and for His glory.
It will not be easy. But it will be possible in Him. Go and do this, till death do you part.