I don’t know about you, but I enjoy the entertainment of “reality” T.V. every now and then. On a recent episode of “The Bachelorette,” however, I found myself shaking my head and uttering the chosen term of Southerners, bless her heart.
Our lovely Bachelorette found herself on a date, waxing poetically about how true love means always feeling the “heat” for your partner. The fire should never die down. The affection should never waiver.
This reality T.V. sound bite was about as far from reality as one can get. When you’re single, this sounds cynical—but any married person can tell you, life itself simply does not lend itself to endless romantic helicopter rides, trips to exotic locations, and gourmet meals that neither of you had to prepare or clean up.
Sprinkle in some newborn sleep deprivation or a toddler circus show or a teenager or two, and that “fire” may seem like a distant memory. Add some financial pressure or a sick family member or a job loss, and you may be left wondering if there ever was any heat to begin with.
No, God did not design love and marriage to be an endless parade of roses, dream dates, and cloud 9 emotions … the truth?
He designed it to be something even better.
Something real. Something solid. Something, if done by His model, that provides a “soft place to fall,” as the saying goes. A way of living that reflects the gospel story in our everyday lives.
But we have a problem, of course: most everything in our culture undermines God’s beautiful design and intention of marriage. Seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a mockery being made of this divine institution.
With reality television, movies, and magazines defining “love” for us, is it any wonder we’re seeing marriages sputter, crashing and burning at every turn? Even as believers, it’s easy for us to lose sight of God’s reality for marriage in the midst of culture’s definition of “reality.”
Now I’m the first to admit, I am certainly no authority on marriage. I’ve been married nearly 11 years, the vast majority of which has been full of trials, difficulty, and pain. I’ve wanted to quit more than once. I’ve run out of steam on more than one occasion.
But through it all, God has been working to refine us, sustain us, and draw us closer to Himself, all the while holding our marriage together when we simply couldn’t do so ourselves. If you find yourself in a season of struggle, take heart that He is able to do the same for you!
Today, my desire is simply to redirect us to some basic truths about love—real, solid truth from God’s Word to which we can cling when we’re wanting to let go. Knowing and meditating on the pure, unchanging Word of God is the only way we can combat the lies hurled at us by this world and live out God’s good design.
My heart is so burdened for marriages and families, so I pray that God will use these words to breathe life and hope into you today!
God is Pro-Marriage
I know this seems obvious, considering He was the one Who created the institution, but I think it bears repeating. Marriage has been bruised and battered over the years. As a result, it’s all too easy for us to forget its importance and significance to God.
After creating Adam, the Lord said in Genesis 2:18, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him (NIV). So He created Eve, the perfect partner for Adam … and just like that, the first partnership of marriage began.
This was His perfect, ultimate design: full-on intimacy, teamwork, fellowship, and joy. Sin entered the picture and forever flawed that design, but God’s intentions have always remained the same.
And God’s heart desires that marriages last. The words of Malachi 2:16 say:
“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel (NIV).
This does not negate the truth that there are indeed times divorce is warranted … even so, it’s not His heart that families be torn apart. If you’ve been through or are going through a divorce, His loving heart grieves right alongside with you. And the most excellent news is that He can redeem anything and any situation! How very thankful I am for that redemption.
The bottom line is, God is for your marriage and mine. In a world that makes us doubt the validity and usefulness of marriage, never forget that our Creator’s desire is for your family to go the distance and thrive.
Lasting Love Isn’t In Us
If we’re doing marriage in our own strength and drawing solely from our own well of love, we’re dead in the water. Like our Bachelorette, we will only last so long as the naturally occurring “fire” lasts.
The love required to sustain a marriage through the years of ups, downs, heartaches, and joys comes solely from the Holy Spirit working and moving in us. He is the Source of lasting, abiding love.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus says:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (NIV).
To love like God, we must draw from His well of love. We are only able to love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
The God Who gave His life for us can imbue us with that same Agape love for our spouses—even long after the fire has died down and life has kicked in!
God Alone is Our Anchor & Foundation
At the end of the day, no matter how wonderful or difficult your marriage may be, God is our sole anchor and foundation in this life. No spouse can meet the deepest needs in us, those needs that only His Divine love can meet.
God is pro-marriage, and He can enable us to love our spouses for a lifetime—but He never intended for marriage to be “the thing” that brings us the lasting, soul-satisfying joy that only He can provide.
If our hope is in our spouse (or our children, our friends, our jobs, etc.), we are destined for disappointment. Others will fail us, and we will fail others—but our Father will never fail us:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness … The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him (Lamentations 3:22-23, 25 NIV).
Marriage is a beautiful gift, something to be treasured. Something to fight for. Something worth pursuing and tending to—but may we not forget that our deepest need, our strongest craving, is for Him and Him alone. He is our source of hope.
Is your marriage struggling today? Do you look around and think, this isn’t what I had in mind? Take heart, dear reader, for God is bigger than your circumstances and bigger than your pain.
Spend some time this week meditating on what God has to say about love. Ask Him for wisdom. Ask Him to fill you with that supernatural love for your spouse. He is faithful to give it!
As we discussed a few weeks ago, your story isn’t over yet … so hold on tightly to Him and live today in the grace He lavishes on you, His dearly loved child.
P.S. – this is one of my favorite songs about love. Take a listen if you have time!