For Better or For Worse

Have you ever thought that your marriage is bulletproof? That nothing serious could come between you and your spouse, certainly not an affair? Maybe your confidence is rooted in your love for God; in the example modeled by your parents or grandparents; in the convictions you hold, the vows you made, the number of years you’ve been together, the shared dream of growing old together; or in your general optimism and positivity.

John 10:10 has always been an anchor verse for us: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV).

We etched it in driveways, hung it in our home, and pursued that promise in our marriage. Abundant life! Don’t you want some of that? It’s available for all of us. But we (and maybe you as well) had been living as if the first part of that verse were not true. We have an Enemy who is seeking to destroy what God has called good. Marriage is a gift from God. He said,

“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). Through this relationship we experience and model to the world God’s covenant love for us. That He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).

For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. We say those words and mean them. Until we don’t. It turns out, given the right circumstances, none of us are exempt from drifting apart or making bad decisions that lead us to places we never thought we’d go. For you, what you’re experiencing may not be the betrayal of an affair. We pray it’s not. Perhaps you’re not experiencing the abundant life you’d always dreamed of with your spouse.

None of us are exempt from drifting apart or making bad decisions …

Jesus gives us a pretty clear picture of forgiveness in Luke 23. This is the passage God used to help me walk out forgiveness and take me to a new place emotionally while I waited on God to restore our marriage. This verse captures Jesus’ final prayer before His death. He prayed,

“Father, forgive them, for they do know not what they are doing.” The rest of that verse reads, “And they divided up his clothes by casting lots” (v. 34). It goes on in verse 35 to say, “The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’ ”

It sounds like they knew exactly what they were doing. They had stripped, beaten, and crucified the man who came to save them. Yet in the moment of His greatest pain, His prayer was that we might experience the forgiveness of God.

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If we are honest with ourselves, we tend to avoid physical or emotional pain. We often start looking around for a new job when things get hard at work, when the new boss is a jerk, or when we’re tired of doing the same thing every day. Professionally, deciding to leave and pursue something new can work out in our favor. Maybe we’ll find a better work environment, a boss we enjoy, and start making a little more money. But what do you do when you feel that way in your marriage? When things are hard, your spouse acts like a jerk, and you’re tired of the same things every day? It’s very common in our culture to see couples take the same approach they would in their careers— look for something better.

Pain is an indicator that something is wrong. That something needs to be done. Instead of leaving, checking out, or looking elsewhere to be satisfied, what if God wants to use the pain you are feeling to help you build a new marriage . . . with the same person? That is our story. God did that in our marriage, and we are confident He can do it in yours.

Taken from New Marriage, Same Couple by Josh Walters and Katie Walters . Copyright. (c) 2024 by Josh Walters and Katie Walters. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.

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