“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Prov. 17:17)
You’d be miserable indeed if you trained to become a fireman and resented it every time there was a fire. Not that you want there to be a fire, but putting out fires is what you’re trained to do. It’s what you signed up for. You don’t run from the fire—you move toward it.
In the same way, when we get married, we sign up to be there in times of adversity. If it is true that a brother is “born for adversity,” it is doubly true that a husband or wife is “married for adversity.” You’re signing up to be there during your spouse’s worst moments, most trying seasons, and even the most irritating personal challenges.
What if we took Proverbs 17:17 seriously and thus considered ourselves “married for adversity?” Rather than resenting adversity or feeling sorry for ourselves (instead of empathy for our spouse), we have to deal with adversity. We should see adversity as a call to action, closeness, encouragement, and support.
Imagine wives facing social embarrassment with their husbands, but working with him instead of laughing at him: “This is one of the reasons I married him, to help him through this.” Imagine wives suffering a husband’s long bout of unemployment thinking, “We got married so I could keep supplying the confidence and hope he needs.” Imagine the same attitude if he’s fighting an addiction, depression, or discouragement—a strong woman of faith realizing how dire things are but saying to herself, “I was born for this! I can love my man in the midst of this!”
Imagine husbands married to women who are gravely ill doubling down on their affection and assurance: “I was born to help my wife get well (or even, sadly, to help her face her death).” What if a man discovers he married a sexually wounded wife who needs special care and understanding and he becomes more concerned about his wife’s healing and health than his own satisfaction? Imagine a husband who is married to a gifted woman who wants to start a business but whose dad always told her she’d never amount to much. That husband provides the support, encouragement, and confidence she needs to become who God created her to be: “I was born to help my wife achieve her full glory!” Whatever the challenge, imagine Christian husbands taking up this biblical truth and instead of feeling sorry for themselves that they have to deal with adversity loudly proclaim, “I can do this! With God’s empowering Spirit, I can love this woman! I was born to do this!”
Instead of seeing a weakness or limitation as a point of frustration, Proverbs 17:17 calls us to let adversity define our commitment, call out the best in us, and depend on God’s love working through us.
The truth is, most marry for very selfish reasons but the Bible describes love as being showcased most clearly when we’re called to serve in the face of difficulty. A biblical friend doesn’t love only in wealth, health, social success, and sunny days. A biblical friend loves at all times. So, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves when our spouses hit a dry spell or when he or she is going through a difficult time let’s lace up our shoes a little tighter and remind ourselves, “I was born for this, to love my spouse at all times, especially in adversity.”