When I meet with a husband and a wife whose marriage is unraveling, I initially feel as discouraged as the two people sitting in front of me. Puzzling over the impasse, I pray for insight, any insight that might reverse the deterioration of a marriage.
Often, and quite unexpectedly, a light switches on in my mind: God can mend this union. Yes, He can. He alone can. And I turn to the couple and beg them to believe in the reviving power of God.
When they respond in humility, defensive thoughts and combative words suddenly give way to contrite hearts, and the two begin to ask God for the miracle of healing, “Heavenly Father, do what only You can do; restore this union!” Later, as the couple is drinking in drafts of divine compassion, it occurs to me that it was only when they humbly confessed their sin and sought the restoration of heaven that their union began to take a turn for the better. Despairing of their own abilities, they sought help from God. And God answered.
Disunity, then, can be a springboard to unity. What a thrilling paradox! This means that no couple, no matter how battered by marital failure, should ever relinquish hope. When resentment and bitterness have become chronic and temptation to retreat into a defensive shell becomes almost irresistible, when neither husband nor wife is willing to concede an advantage to the other, when tempers flare and spirits plummet—it is especially then that two partners can be on the cusp of victory.
Their eyes begin to look heavenward. Their hearts begin to soften. Prayers are offered. Trickles of divine love begin to seep into their souls. The trickles then become torrents. Husband and wife, for the first time in a long time, begin to pour the love of Christ into each other.
A miracle is taking place. Tongues begin to loosen and tender words are spoken, words which only days before—perhaps only moments before—were locked away in a tightly sealed vault. Apologies are offered. Forgiveness is granted. Who was right and who was wrong—it no longer matters. The improbable is taking place. A new bond is forming and it is tighter and more beautiful than ever before, a bond arising from the ashes of disunity and despair.
Have you experienced the miracle of a resurrected marriage? Have you been guided back to the trail by a merciful God? Have you cried out humbly for the victory only He can provide? Have you pleaded for the gift of divine help? It is a prayer God wants to answer. It is a prayer God will answer. And when He does, your union will become a masterpiece of His glory.
The wonder of oneness
In a world limping along, in a fog of loveless relationships, where the majority of partnerships succumb to the storms of self-interest, a marriage topped up and overflowing with the love of Christ stands out like a radiant beacon against the darkest night. Nothing is more impressive. And people will notice. They will behold such a marriage with wonder and give praise to God.
Listen to the praise offered by a well-traveled George Whitefield after observing carefully the marriage of Jonathon and Sarah Edwards: “A sweeter couple I have not yet seen. It causes me to renew those prayers, which, for some months, I have put up to God that He would be pleased to send me a daughter of Abraham to be my wife.”
Or imagine my own wonder when reading the Christmas greeting of a friend whose mate had long borne the travails of an incapacitating disease: “My time is taken up with caring for a very courageous wife as she struggles to cope with the ravages of multiple sclerosis. When she feels frustrated because of the time necessary for her care and says, ‘I wish you could get back to your own work,’ I reply, ‘Caring for you is my work,’ We remain supremely happy together.” Yes, supremely happy together—happy in the daily expression of the self-giving love of the Lord, a love which in turn brings happiness to everyone blessed to see it.
Why does true marital love move our hearts so deeply? It is because it awakens memories of the only thing that really nourishes a human heart: divine love. We were made to receive God’s love, and we were made to pour it out into others. When we see it happening in marriage—a relationship perfectly suited to the giving and the receiving of divine love—it ministers deeply to our hearts.
The love of God … imbibed. The love of God … imparted. As human beings, this is our raison d’être, and it is the foundation of every good marriage. C. S. Lewis put it well: “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall … not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”
When husbands and wives drink deeply from the well of God’s love, they inevitably pour that love into each other. Oneness with God produces oneness with each other.
It’s never too late
Is this kind of unity in any marriages you know? Is it—if you are married—in yours? It can be. It is never too late. You can be “remarried” today for the glory of God. Humbly confess to the Lord the self-centeredness of your heart and ask Him to fill you with the love of Christ.
Nor is it ever too soon. If you are hoping to marry or have recently become married, bow before the Lord and ask Him for the gift of His love and prepare yourself for the miracle of one flesh.