In Sickness and in Health

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The Biblical picture of marriage is all about Christ. It’s not about fulfilling our marital dreams.

My wife and I are coming up on our ninth year of marriage. It has gone by so fast, but at the same time, nine years is a long time. And we are just getting started. I love her deeply, but honestly, loving her has been easy. We have been blessed with many things, including good health and two wonderful boys.

Recently, I came across the story of Ian and Larissa, a young couple from Pennsylvania whose marriage has not been easy. Ian suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident one morning which left him severely disabled. He will need constant care for the rest of his life. Larissa was devastated when she realized her hopes and dreams of a normal life with Ian were smashed to pieces in that awful crash.

But the unusual twist to their story is that Ian suffered his injury before they were married or even engaged.

After Ian’s accident, Larissa had to make a choice. She knew Ian had intended to ask her to marry him, but should she now stay by Ian’s side and commit to a hard life with the man she loved? Or should she run away and hope to find love again with someone else? For Larissa, it wasn’t even a question. She knew marriage wasn’t about two kids and a minivan in the suburbs. She knew it was about displaying a model of Christ’s love for His Church, come what may.

In his book, This Momentary Marriage, Dr. John Piper says:

“Marriage is not mainly about prospering economically; it is mainly about displaying the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church. Knowing Christ is more important than making a living. Treasuring Christ is more important than bearing children. Being united to Christ by faith is a greater source of marital success than perfect sex and double-income prosperity.”

In other words, the biblical picture of marriage is all about Christ. It’s not about fulfilling our marital dreams.

This life is short, so what we do with the time we are given matters a lot. Ian and Larissa chose to bring God fame when they married, and it’s clear that Christ sustains their marriage, despite their sorrows. They even actively practice gratitude by writing down their blessings. They surely mourn the loss of the dreams they once had as they watch their friends who have children and good health, but they know that this is the path God chose for them, and they walk it with grateful hearts. They know what awaits them on the other side of this life.

A friend recently told me about a quote he heard: “Life isn’t about avoiding the storms, but learning to dance in the rain.” Ian and Larissa are well acquainted with sorrow, but because they don’t idolize health, a double income, a family full of children, or anything but Christ, their perspective is centered and they have joy. Best of all, their story is an excellent picture of Christ’s covenant love for His Church, and that challenges me to better display that kind of love to my wife, too.

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