Marriage can be painful–and Christian marriage is no exception. When two sinners are in a relationship as intimate as marriage, there is bound to be some measure of hurt. Our flesh will balk at the demands of self-sacrifice, service, and humility affecting one another for ill. There will be sins committed, wounds aggravated, and injuries inflicted. The extent will vary with each relationship. Some will be more challenging than others, but every Christian marriage experiences some pain.
However, this isn’t completely negative (of course, we are not referring to abusive relationships). If we are purely aiming at happiness and marital bliss in our marriages then any conflict, struggle, or pain within it would be devastating. But this isn’t our ultimate aim in Christian marriage. Of course, I pray for every young couple that their marriage would be filled with happiness; and I equally grieve for couples that are not experiencing happiness, as that is often a heavy burden to bear. Happiness is good, but no Christian marriage will enjoy uninterrupted bliss. Of course, we should seek happiness, but we have a greater goal in view. As with all of life, the great goal of our marriages is the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
This truth should be of comfort within a hurting Christian marriage because we know that sometimes pain is the very road we must travel to reach the desired end (1 Peter 4:13). It doesn’t necessarily make the pain more enjoyable, but it does make it more bearable.
It is helpful to remember that the Lord has chosen to use the institution of marriage as one of the tools in His holy arsenal as He seeks to refine and shape us into the image of Christ. In many ways, a Christian husband and wife are like two pieces of coarse sand paper that have been bound together. As the year’s pass, their own coarseness will rub up against each other, and by that rubbing and God’s grace, they will help to make each other smoother. Your wife, dear Christian husband, is a means by which the Lord sanctifies you in this life. She is a gift. Likewise, dear Christian wife, your husband is a means by which the Lord is sanctifying you. He is a gift.
With this reality firmly planted in our minds, we begin to see our Christian spouse as an ally rather than as an enemy when things get difficult. Our spouse is a fellow worker in the Kingdom. We are aiming at the same purposes, though often falling short. We know that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We are brother and sister, linked arm in arm, waging the good fight of faith together. We are not enemies, adversaries, or combatants. Rather, we are fellow pilgrims, and God has granted us the gift of a spouse that knows and loves Him to help us along in this journey to the celestial city. And because we are fallen, we will at times injure one another–but that injury is not the end. It is yet another opportunity to grow in grace and godliness as we march on together.
Pain will come, and it will go, wounds will be given and will heal, forgiveness will be sought, and it will be granted; and in the midst of it all, God is molding us into the image of Christ our Lord for His glory. That is an end worth pursuing, no matter how difficult the road may be.
This post first appeared at ChristWard Collective and is posted here with permission of the author.