Back when I entered marriage many years ago, I was young, naïve and totally idealistic. I thought that marriage would fulfill the longings in my heart that had been bubbling up all throughout my childhood and teen years.
Naturally, I was far too familiar with the fairytale endings that Disney churned out, and was equally influenced by the sappy chick-flicks and romantic musicals that Hollywood produced.
I just knew I would find the man of my dreams if only I could find the right mountainous field of flowers to swirl around in, while singing about hills, music and other romantic notions! I was a Julie Andrews wanna-be, turning later into a Julia Roberts junkie.
[bctt tweet=”This was my focus and aim—to find bliss after my first marriage kiss! #hogwash #marriageishard #lifeishard” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had plenty of satisfying and wonderful moments with my husband. I just think that every believer’s marriage needs to be redefined by God’s mysterious truth and grace, rather than by the world’s perspective of marital success. Trust me … there’s a vast chasm between these two points of view!
At some point my marriage moved from exciting, joyful and playful to routine, demanding, and sobering. Not only was it difficult at times to live in a household with two sinners blending their lives together, but it also was hard to stay hopeful and humble—especially when the harshness of life hit us both squarely on the jaw.
We had gotten married while we were still working on our degrees, which left little time to relax or focus solely on each other. Once our children entered the picture, what little free time we had before they arrived was divided up even more so after.
We then felt the demands of being two newbie—and sometimes downright dumb—parents. Our financial burdens increased in correlation to our growing list of needs for a growing family. Can you relate?
If that were where it had stopped, then maybe we could have sailed past the storms into smoother waters. But, in my experience, life and marriage almost always comes with lots of bumps, waves and storms to toss us about.
After graduating, my husband and I entered the ministry. The challenges and hardships that come as a ministry couple were, and still are, too numerous to really list here. Suffice it to say, ministry is not for the faint of heart!
Here’s a list of some of the challenges of LIFE that we experienced:
- I was diagnosed with a chronic disease at 30 years of age.
- Gary was unemployed at two points during our marriage.
- I dealt with depression and even suicidal ideation in our messiest marriage years.
- We dealt with a health issue for one child, and a learning challenge for another.
- I lost both of my parents.
- I was diagnosed with breast cancer (which I am now four years cancer-free! Yay, God!).
- We barely made it financially at certain points along the way—though God always provided!
These were and are just a few of the trials and difficulties we’ve lived through, since many are too personal to mention. But there’s one thing that I’ve realized since those earlier, idealistic, days of my marriage … My suffering in marriage and life, when left in God’s hands, can bring about the best result and refinement ever!
In fact, I would declare that every difficulty, hurt, loss and pain that I’ve experienced so far has taught me to trust and obey the Lord in ways that an easier life could never have produced. Never!
Consider for a moment Jesus’ life …
Do you think that Jesus could have avoided the pain, persecution and torturous death that He endured for you and me, and still have accomplished our beautiful redemption? (Not a chance!)
Since Jesus knew and accepted that there was no other way to redeem the lost, do you think that He enjoyed the pain, persecution and suffering He endured? (Um, I surely don’t think so!)
Then what was His reason for going through such suffering for those of us who, before coming to Christ, rejected and reviled Him?
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” ~Hebrews 5:7-9
What suffering taught and brought to Jesus …
- Taught Him obedience.
- Made Him the perfect Savior and perfect Sacrifice for our sins.
- His suffering provided the “source” for our salvation through His death on the cross.
Now consider this in light of your own suffering …
Do you think you can avoid the pain, persecution and losses you experience in life and marriage, and still identify with Christ? Be refined by Him? Deepen your faith in Him?
One more question to consider …
Do you believe that the bond you have with your mate can be made just as strong by happy and trouble-free moments, as it can by going through faith-stretching times of trouble and loss?
For me, the bond I share with my husband has been deepened and sweetened by the troubles we’ve navigated together as we’ve learned to cling to Christ. And, lest you feel that this could never happen for you because your spouse won’t cling to Jesus … Remember that this blessing isn’t dependent on your spouse’s cooperation. You alone can deepen your bond with Jesus so much more than when you lead a carefree and pain-free life. #painsrefiningpurpose
[bctt tweet=”You alone can deepen your bond with Jesus so much more than when you lead a carefree and pain-free life. #MysteryofChrist” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
Does this mean, as a believer, you will enjoy every hardship and trial in your life and marriage?
Not by a long shot!
But I’d love to get to the place where I can be like the first-century believers …
“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” ~Acts 5:41 (That is the “Name” of Jesus Christ!)
I’m not sharing all of this to guilt you into embracing the pain of your marriage and life. But I do hope it gives you a different perspective and hope in your suffering. Consider dropping any defenses you have—trusting Jesus’ plan in your pain. And I guarantee that He will give you so much more by going through your pain with Him, than if you try and go around that pain-filled season in marriage and life.
[bctt tweet=”A perspective that helps you to go through your pain in marriage, rather than around it. #JesusInspires” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
What hardships in your marriage have brought you closer to Jesus and/or to your spouse?
What is a difficulty you’re facing right now that has you disillusioned in life and/or marriage?
Here are some lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Moments of Hope, Literary Musing Mondays, Dream Together Linkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Glimpses Linkup, Tune in Thursday, Break Through Homeschooling Linkup, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Faith and Friends, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday
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