"Whoever said that marrying and having children was to be trouble free? It’s one of the hardest things in the world. It just happens to be right and rewarding." (John Piper)
Yeh, so who was it that said marrying and having children would be trouble free? I can't recall it. I don't know where that lie began. With Disney? With Hollywood? With fictional romance novels? I mean Shakespeare did not write that way. Look at Romeo and Juliet. Homer did not write that way. Have you ever read the tangled mess of life and love in The Odyssey and The Iliad? The Bible certainly did not say that. Look at Adam and Eve and Cain and Able. Look at Noah and his sons. Look at Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Ishmael. Look at Isaac and Rebekah and Jacob and Esau. Look at David. Good grief I could just keep going on and on.
So where exactly did we come up with the delusion of a trouble free marriage?
In the words of an old Saturday Night Live skit, "Could it be, could it be, Satan?"
Let's just stop and think for a moment of what a marriage in our fallen world actually is. It is two completely separate people who are raised in completely different homes by completely different parents. They have separate personalities. Separate backgrounds, even if they were raised in the same neighborhood and grew up in the same church from the womb, they are still two separate and unique individuals.
Then in our "dating" society, these two separate individuals catch each others eye and then spend the next however many days, months, years, pretending to be the perfect person for this one whose eyes they have caught. They are on their best behaviour at all times, they say things they don't mean, they pretend to like things they really hate, they do things they have never done in a way they have never done it because they think this person likes it that way. They assume, compromise, fake, twist, distort, fabricate all in the name of "love".
Then when they have successfully pulled the wool over each others eyes, they come together and say "I do". Then it happens, it's harder to keep up the charade on a 24 hr, 7 day a week basis. The scary thing is that usually neither one of you even really realized that it was a charade. You were just playing the game. You saw what you wanted and you did what you had to do to get it and now you have it and you have just realized you have no clue what to do with it.
You also have just realized that you have forgotten who you really were as you pretended to be something and someone else for so long. Now you look in the mirror at this stranger in front of you and then over to the other side of the bed at this stranger lying beside you.
Now it becomes a mission. I will make this work. I will continue to be who I have convinced this person I am if it kills me... and it will. Here lies the test of faith. Here is where the rubber will meet the road. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24)
Oh yes, we will try to keep it up, the charade. We will work our fingers to the bone and concoct all sorts of strategies to make it work. We will read books and watch Dr Phil and we will grow tired and frustrated. The other stranger will not meet our expectations. We will accuse each other of not trying hard enough to pretend to be someone we never really were to begin with... and then it comes to the moment of do or die.
Will you choose to die? Will you choose to stop the charade? Will you choose to die to who you are pretending to be, to who you were, to the you, you are trying to hold on to? Will you choose to die?
If you choose death, then your marriage will live. "For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives." (Hebrews 9:16-17)
Yes, unless that grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it will bear much fruit. Marriage is God taking two completely different unique individuals and meshing them into a brand new creation and birthing out of this creation fruit of uniqueness. If you are a skeptic on miracles, how much more of a miracle is this? Why would Satan be working so hard to destroy our marriages and redefine what a marriage is, if it did not so amazingly and wonderfully display the glory of our God?
A living marriage is a double suicide. Two people choosing to die (or kill each other in the process) and allowing God to breathe life back into them and raise them from the dead to live a life of unity, to become one flesh. The awesome thing is that God can make us one flesh without ever destroying our uniqueness. While if we try to do it ourselves, apart from Him, we do destroy our uniqueness.
No matter how or where the marriage began, no matter how far and how long the charade game has been played, no matter the mess, if both will choose die to themselves then God will validate that covenant and it will bear much fruit. Here lies the test of faith. When the rubber meets the road will you be willing to die?
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:31, "I die daily". The truth is marriage is not trouble free, raising children is not easy, learning to live in unity with another unique individual is hard, but not impossible. With God all things are possible and if we will place our marriage in the hand of God then He will use it to display His image, His glory, and His grace.
"So death works in us, but life in you" (2 Corinthians 4:12)