September 13, 2013

A Fierce Force in Marriage

Gary Thomas — 

Don’t we all wish we could say the following? “We have such a good marriage. We hardly fight at all, if ever. We’re just so compatible.” And, in fact, if God said to me, “Gary I’m going to give you the easiest marriage and the easiest life, if you want it,” I don’t think I’d have the character to turn it down. While such a relationship might, at times feel like a pleasant marriage, it might also miss out on an entirely different dimension: the power of Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul speaks a fundamental Christian truth: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Three times, Paul pleaded with God to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” Three times God said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Finally—and this is what scares me—Paul got to the point where he said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

What if, instead of telling everyone how “good” we have it, we honestly testified to God’s grace? “We’re really not compatible at all, but God has used those differences to build in us a humility we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

“We’ve never been comfortable, financially, but that has kept us on our knees.”

“We got married young, and the fact is, we both want different things out of life, but God is giving us grace and power every day to unite our hearts and keep us together.”

Is there a “thorn” in your marriage relationship that you have pleaded with God to take away, many times? Is there something you wish He would heal, but He hasn’t?

“Really, God, we have to go through this issue again???”

In such circumstances, do we seek resolution, or do we seek Christ’s power? Do we seek the pathway to an easier life, or to a supernatural life?

It is in our weaknesses—as individuals, and perhaps as a couple—that Christ’s power comes to rest on us; often, it is only when we are at our end that we make way for God to begin. If God resolved every issue, every child’s problem, and every spouse’s annoyance with their first uttered prayer (“Presto! Everything is better!”), the reality is, we’d be weaker saints. We’d be weaker couples. We wouldn’t display the power of Christ. Or, at the least, we’d display it to a much lesser degree.

I don’t honestly know that I can go where Paul goes: “delighting” in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, difficulties. If there are any of those in my marriage and family, I want them gone, and I want them gone now.

Isn’t this our attitude? We pray, “Lord, fix this” instead of “let the power of Christ be made manifest in our lives.” We don’t want power; we want superficial peace. We don’t want witness. We want hassle-free lives. We don’t want the fierce force of weakness-generated-strength; we want an easy, fun, and care-free relationship.

Or at least I do.

Shame on me.

Can you thank God for that child who keeps you on your knees? Can you recognize why God may choose to allow the possibility of another addictive lapse to keep both of you living in dependence? Can you understand that God may not remove some difficulties that you hate because He wants you to rely on the supernatural power of Christ that He loves?

I’m sorry, friends, that this is such a sobering post. But I believe it will change our marriages and our walks with God if we stop expecting every problem to be fixed and instead expect every difficulty to help us learn Paul’s secret of strength in weakness.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

How can we look at the difficulties and trials of marriage in this new light? Please, share some of your thoughts.

When you subscribe to Gary’s blog, you will receive blog posts directly to your e-mail inbox. You will be one of the first to learn about the latest in Gary’s writing.

One response to A Fierce Force in Marriage

  1. Jessica Shane April 8, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Gary,
    Throughout my whole life until this year, I have had a very poor relationship with my parents, who are alcohol addicts. They have abused it since I was little (I am now 28 years young). They argued all the time and took their stress out on me and my three siblings. Over time, this turned me into a negative, insecure, unlovable person who abused men for security and false happiness. I was greedy, needy, and very selfish.
    I just got married in August 2015 to a man I dated for five years and is a wonderful person with a wonderful family. He and his family have taught me so much about how to love, trust, give, worship God and simply be a part of a healthy family.
    Through this, I slowly started seeing God’s love reign in the rocky relationship with my parents. I began not to dwell or get as easily disappointed or offended by their behaviors and actions. But when I would stop worshiping God, the darkness and turmoil came back. My soul would go to the dark place that I know so well and it was very hard to get out of.
    It is in these dark places, that I just recently have started to feel strong. When the issue presents itself, I feel stronger and stronger each time because of God’s grace.
    I believe that he pulls me back to him and leads me to lean on him during these times.
    I know this isn’t really related to marriage, but I wanted to share how God has impacted my life in my weakest moments.