How Struggles Strengthen Your Knot
By Jen Ferguson
“Marriage is the beautiful design of the Almighty, a great and sacred mystery—meant to be a vivid example of Christ and his church. So every married man should be gracious to his wife just as he is gracious to himself. And every wife should be tenderly devoted to her husband.” - Ephesians 5:32-33, The Passion Translation
Fishermen use a special knot when they need to repair a line that has broken. This same type of knot is also called the “marriage knot.” Essentially, you take two pieces of string or line and line them up side by side. You tie piece one to piece two, rotate it, and tie piece two to piece one. Then, when you pull the ends, the two knots get pulled closer and closer together and finally mesh seemingly as one when they meet in the middle. There are two things amazingly neat about this type of knot:
First, the more you pull the strings in opposite directions, the tighter the knot gets. Secondly, when it gets wet, the harder the knot is to loosen. Satan thinks that the more obstacles he throws in your path, the more storms he can use to rock your boat, the more it will drive you and your spouse apart. Addictions, sexual temptations, health issues, troubled children, financial despairs—like flaming arrows he fires them, desperate to break your union and send waves crashing down so you feel like you’re drowning. Why? Because of God’s passion for marriage. Because of what it represents. If it’s true that truly nothing—not death, nor life, angels, or demons, height or depth—can separate us from the love of God and marriage is supposed to be the manifestation of this truth, Satan believes if he can break up marriages he can prove God’s Word to be a lie.
But these obstacles that Satan throws our way actually have the power to strengthen us both individually and as a married couple. These obstacles compel us to work on our relationship. If we allow God to use for good the very things that Satan means for destruction, our marriage will actually become indestructible. The suffering Satan wants to use to cripple us ends up producing endurance. Endurance produces character, and character hope. And then all of the sudden, instead of slogging through the darkness, we end up emerging as a radiant beacon of light that others can see and it all ends up illuminating their darkness.
Isn’t it so like God to take our brokenness and use the pieces to create a masterpiece that helps others to see His goodness and faithfulness? He stitches all those things that once caused us not to love each other in the manner that we are called to love in such a way that we can only love each other more.
When I think of how much Craig has overcome in his struggle with addiction, in his quest to find true health—physically, emotionally, spiritually—I find my level of devotion to be far greater than the day I pledged my life to him in 2000. When my fears for his health begin to wear on me and I slip into my anxious mindset, he gives me grace—reassurance, sometimes, and others, a commitment to change his own course for both our benefits. When other hard situations come—and they will come—we will have an even deeper well of love and grace from which to draw because we’ve had to dig deep to get through our other trials.
Satan believes that if he just throws enough stuff our way, he’ll tear us apart. But isn’t amazing to know that God knew exactly how Satan would work and that He has truly taken what the enemy meant for harm and shows us how it can all be for our good? Going through the hard allows us to let down our walls, shed our self-sufficiency, and presses us toward vulnerability, that if we embrace it, will allow the very fibers of our being—and our marriage—to intertwine with each other.
When people see this as we share our story, there is an opportunity for hope to be restored that just as we did not give up on each other, neither does Jesus give up on us. He perseveres even when we don’t deserve it, loves us through our messiness, and challenges us with truth (filled with grace and love) when we’ve become complacent.
To love our spouse as Jesus loves the Church seems impossible some days, but God never asks us to do it on our own strength. Instead, He empowers us to love through His own unconditional love for us, from a well that never runs dry.
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Originally published Monday, 16 October 2023.