This post on Sacred Marriage: Embracing Difficulty was written by Jeffrey Chen, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeffrey has a passion for sharing God’s love with those around him. He blogs at The Wayvy Life.
Welcome back to our series on “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas! This week, we are diving into Chapter 9: “Sacred Struggle: Embracing Difficulty in Order to Build Character”. This chapter discusses the difficulties that are bound to come in marriage and how to approach them when they come. Marriage is anything but easy, so it is understandable while many marriages end up in divorce. However, Thomas encourages us to have an eternal mindset when we do endure suffering, such as in our marriage.
Thomas does not believe we should suffer simply for the sake of suffering. This will lead you nowhere except hopelessness. Rather it is important that we have the right perspective on suffering. We do not need to enjoy suffering, but we can appreciate what suffering can do for our character. Essentially, it is critical that we when we suffer, we suffer for a purpose, just as Jesus did. We embrace suffering because we know, in the long run, it can bring us closer to our spouse and closer to God. As Thomas puts it, “It helps when we view our struggles in light of what they provide for us spiritually rather than in light of what they take from us emotionally.”
Make no mistake, focusing on our spiritual growth when we struggle does not make the hardships any easier. It will not alter the toll that marriage can take on us. No matter what approach you take, there will be conflict and disagreements in your relationship. There will be times where it will be feel so much easier to just quit and leave. Honestly, it probably is. But, what kind of person will you become if you give up on anything when it gets hard? Instead of running, Thomas encourages us to embrace our struggles, growing through them and becoming closer to God because of them.
Moreover, while relying on our faith to endure our sufferings will not suddenly cause them to disappear, it can certainly be what carries us through them when we feel like we have nothing left. This is where heavenly hope comes in. Many people today view marriage as a means of happiness and fulfillment in this life. However, what if we viewed its purpose as attaining glory after death? As in, through our marriage, we are preparing our faith and character for heaven, where we will become perfect. This is what our marriage is truly about. This is what we must try to remember when we are at odds with our spouse, can’t seem to pay the bills, or are fumbling the ball as parents.
As opposed to trying to escape our problems or blaming others for them, we must take them head on knowing that when we get through them, we will become more like Christ. The tough times are what shape us as people, and they are also what shape our relationships. Do not let them tear your marriage apart. Rather, see them as an opportunity to be persistent, faithful, and obedient to your commitment to your spouse and to God. It may not be fun in the moment, but in the end working through it all can create something truly beautiful and special with your spouse. You can look back on the tough times and say, “Hey, we made it through that together.” I can guarantee that you will be proud of the growth you have made together as a couple, and more importantly, God will be pleased with the glory you have brought Him through your willingness to love another person just as He loves us no matter the circumstances.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me for feedback, questions, suggestions on topics, or anything else. I’m happy to chat about anything and everything. I hope you can take away something helpful from this post. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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