If God created this covenant and declared it good, don’t you think he’s going to fight for it?
It was six months after our second cross-country move in five years. My husband and I were expecting our second child, and we’d just purchased a new home. On the surface, things probably appeared fine. But underneath the smiles and the baby announcements, our marriage suffered.
We struggled to make connections in our new community and find a church home. We tried to make new friends, but it was a slow process. And because of all these things combined with the stress of a new move, we took our frustrations out on each other. One night I remember crying, “We need to find a way to stop fighting, or get counseling.”
I sent a desperate prayer up to God and asked him to help us communicate. And while there wasn’t a lightning bolt miracle or a sudden change, over time, he gave me hope for our marriage. My husband and I went through a Bible study together and prayed together each night. In the midst of that extremely difficult season, God pressed one command on my heart: to keep loving and keep persevering.
If you don’t see how your marriage is going to survive, here are three reasons to have hope:
1. God uses marriage as a living testimony of his relationship with his bride, the Church.
Marriage isn't just a relationship with our spouse, but a living story of God’s love for his people. When we persevere through hardship, misunderstandings, and trials, God uses our faithfulness to speak to others. He shows those who are questioning God and faith that his covenants last. They aren’t shaken by the arrows the world and the enemy fire at them, but his covenants only grow stronger.
In the Gospel of Mark, the Pharisees try to test Jesus and ask him about divorce. They state that under the old law, Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send his wife away (Mark 10:5). Jesus doesn’t dispute this law but instead points to the reason behind it. This addition to the law wasn’t made because it was what God wanted, but because the people’s hearts were hardened.
When our hearts become hardened, we are no longer sensitive to the desires of God or the Spirit’s prompting. Although the Holy Spirit will attempt to draw us back to the truth, he cannot and will not force us to choose God’s ways over our own. Jesus makes the will of God clear when he says, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9
If we see marriage as only a means to make us happy and satisfied, we will be perpetually disappointed. Of course, happy seasons and moments will come and God does care about our fulfillment. But marriage is hard. Our spouses see the best and the worst of us, and it takes valiant effort from both parties to make it last.
When valleys come, instead of asking ourselves, “Why is this happening?”, let’s look for the ways God is drawing us closer to him. What can we learn about his character as we seek to understand our spouse and communicate in a healthy way?
2. Trials don’t signify that our marriage is failing, but that its roots are forging deeper ground.
When we go through hardship in marriage, it is tempting to retreat. Instead of getting to the root of the problem or communicating with our spouse about our concerns, we may avoid the issue. Keeping the status quo can seem easier than talking through difficult, tense subjects. But in marriage, we can’t grow in our relationship with our spouse if we never experience difficult seasons. If we aren’t challenged or taken outside of what’s comfortable, we will stay in a state of inertia.
Does this mean we should remain in a situation of dysfunction, emotional or physical abuse? No, absolutely not. Certain circumstances call for professional help, whether that means counseling, law enforcement, or another third party. But when we encounter seasons where miscommunication and fighting are the norm, or we can only see the faults in our spouse, we need to recognize an enemy is at work. And he’s an enemy who hates marriage and family.
These battles must be fought on our knees and with a heart that desires change. This means change not only in our spouse but in ourselves. Because if we don’t recognize our own sin, we have a much bigger problem than our marriage.
This daily decision to choose love and seek God in the midst of the struggle isn’t easy, but it produces a beautiful harvest. Paul talks about the fruit we see as a result of our endurance in Romans:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5 NLT
Did you catch that last promise? This hope we cling to when we persevere through these trials will not disappoint. While the things of this world will always leave us empty and craving more, the hope we have in Christ will not. It is secure and unfading.
3. God fights for what he creates.
God created marriage and called it good. When he made man and woman in Genesis, he stated it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). He joined these two unique human beings together not on a whim or by happenstance, but because he had a purpose.
If God created this covenant and declared it good, don’t you think he’s going to fight for it? When we don’t think we can make it through another day of misunderstanding or heartache, we can call on God to help us. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and he doesn’t want us to battle alone. He is more than able to take the ugly fragments of our lives and make something beautiful out of them. When we don’t see anything worth saving, he sees the story he’s writing on the other side of our pain.
David talks about this promise in Psalm 34:
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:17-18 NIV
As my husband and I kept showing up for our imperfect marriage, God showed up too. He brought new understanding and renewed commitment, even when circumstances were still hard. In time, we saw the light on the other side of a long, dark chapter and we made connections in our new community.
When new seasons of trouble came later, we were better prepared for them because God had shown us how to navigate through them. He also showed us what unconditional love looked like, and taught us how we can love even when we don’t understand each other’s ways.
Friend, if you’re losing hope for your marriage right now and struggling to revive something that appears dead, look to the One who created both you and your spouse. Look to the One who made both of you in his image, and wants to use your marriage as a reflection of his love. As you make this commitment to cling to hope even when you don’t see what’s on the other side, he will work in you and in your marriage. The answer may not come in an instant and the road ahead may be long, but he will never abandon you. If you keep your eyes fixed on the One who is our Living Hope, there is no limit to the beauty he can create from darkness.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Abby McDonald is a writing coach and the author of Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. Her mission is to empower women to seek God in the middle of life’s messes and to share their faith with courage. Abby writes regularly for Proverb 31 Ministries’ daily devotions team, and her work has been featured in numerous publications. You can connect with Abby on her website where you can grab a free worship playlist to help you shift your focus toward God. You can also connect with Abby on Instagram.