This is the 3rd session from our Marriage Seminar in Nov 2018 with Alasdair Groves of CCEF New England. We’ve already talked about how conflicts are opportunities to learn about our spouse’s desires and love on them better. We’ve already talked about how we need to be aware of our own desires as we communicate so it doesn’t lead to manipulation, but is full of honor. This session focuses on not giving up on your marriage. There is hope no matter the status of your relationship.
True hope for any marriage lies completely in God. We must remember that God created the institution of marriage in the beginning during His creation process. He knows best on how it works. It’s why we must begin to set aside our agenda and focus on His agenda. It’s why we must begin to set aside our desire to change our spouse and focus on His desire to change us. The good thing about God is that He is presently active in our sanctification; and therefore, the growth of our marriage.
Alasdair chose Colossians 1:9-12 as a focus for us to not lose heart in our marriage. In that passage, we are told that we can be fruitful in every good work, which means that “love is never wasted.” We need to be constantly reminded of that because it may seem like our efforts to love an unloving spouse is pointless. But God says we will bear fruit. We may not see immediate results. Like planting a seed, it takes time and consistent care and the work of God to see the beginnings of growth. And even then, we must not stop pouring nutrients and care to see the plant continue to grow and grow.
All of this illustrates God’s own love for us. His love is not short lived. It never gives up on you. The Apostle Paul in that passage wants the readers to understand and grow in the knowledge of God’s love. As we suck it up and offer love, we are mimicking God’s love as a visual illustration. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Growing in God’s love teaches us about endurance and perseverance. On our own effort, in our own thoughts and processes, we may not see how or see the need to keep going. But with a focus on God, we receive strength to endure with His power and His glorious might. He will supply the patience and the joy.
Talking about endurance and perseverance in the marriage context sounds crazy in cultural eyes. We are taught to do things that make you happy. Don’t like your job? Find a new one. Want a new phone? Go get one. We come to believe that everything is disposable and accessible without consequences. But that is simply not true. Endurance is glorious to God. Of course, you may need to separate yourself from harmful situations and seek help in those circumstances. God is not calling us to become doormats.
And that leads to the final point of Alasdair. None of us are meant to do this alone. In the Colossians passage, Paul is writing but is representing something larger than himself. He often says “we.” “We heard” … “we haven’t stopped praying” … “we are asking”. Who are the “we”? It’s others within the church. It is the church. Alasdair says “God brings spouses together for the good of the whole body. Your marriage is bigger than the two of you.” We must widen our circles and allow others to share in this hard work of marriage. What you are going through is not unique to you and your marriage. No marriage is perfect. All marriages need reminders and people to encourage. Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t try to cover it up. Don’t withdrawal and close good help out. We weren’t designed to do life alone. We weren’t designed to do marriage alone.
Here are some questions from this session:
- What makes it hard to persevere right now?
- What “mission” do you share?
- What “mission” do you want to share?
- What kind of love have you stopped because you don’t think it’s worth it?
- What does enduring with patience and joy look like in your marriage?
- Who can you call on to keep you focused and going?
Pray. Nothing is impossible with God. Confess where you have stopped loving. Ask God for strength to love. Thank God for His amazing love for you and your spouse.