The Bridegroom Never Walked Out on His Bride
This weekend I attended the Men of Integrity Conference. It was a wonderful 2 days of fellowship prayer, praise and learning with other Christian men. I rekindled some old friendships, got to finally meet some people who I have interacted with only electronically, and I made new friendships.
This weekend made me thankful for my strong marriage. And it also got me thinking about the many broken and rocky marriages in the church. I won’t go into details, but there are many more than you may realize. And there are many more than I am aware of. Marriage is hard. Family is hard. Isn’t it? And it is because of the brokenness of this world; our fallen natures. Our families are full of sinners. People who have hurt us, offend us, who try to tear us down. Do you have a broken marriage? Has your spouse cheated on you? Does your wife suffer from depression and make life unbearable? Does your sister slander you behind your back? Does your father steal from you? Do your kids disrespect you? And God says that these are our trials. Do you know what God is doing in these trials? He is perfecting us. He is making us like Christ. This is a sanctifying process!
“Count it all joy, brethren, when you fall into various trials because the trying of your faith has a perfect work.”~ James 1:2
“After you’ve suffered a while the Lord make you perfect.” ~ 1 Peter 5:10
The Apostle Paul, when speaking about his “thorn in the flesh”, his suffering, abuse, and persecution, says:
“I am content with all of them because when I’m weak then I am strong.”
Yes it is true, God’s power is perfected in our weakness. His grace is made sufficient in our weaknesses. I know it because I read and i have experienced it. You may think you have an unbearable family or a difficult marriage. I certainly thought I did …We went through a rough time in our marriage many years ago where I am sure we both wondered what we were doing in this marriage. It was so difficult at times that I admit I thought about giving up on it. How about you? Have you ever been there? Are you there now? It is ok, you are not alone – even if you feel like you are.
There are a number of struggling marriages in the church. There are lots of parents struggling to understand why their child is so hard to deal with. Maybe you teenagers think your parents are overbearing, that you just can’t get along with mom or dad or both. Regardless of your circumstances in the home, just remember that God is in control. All of these sins and wrongs against you by your loved ones are the very trials which God will use to make you like his perfect Son, Jesus Christ. Don’t run from them. Whatever the criticism, however unfair the injustice, no matter how hurtful the offense, regardless of the depth of persecution, these trials are for the purpose of your spiritual maturity. I know you can’t see it. I couldn’t see it at the time either. Neither could my wife. But please, don’t run from it. Stay in it. Even if the thought crosses your mind, “I could be happier with someone else,” if you respond to the stress and the difficulty with a grace driven effort with faith in God’s promises, those trials will bring you closer to Christlikeness. That is God’s promise.
At the end of the day, what keeps a marriage and a family together is forgiveness. Why? Because we are all going to fail. We are all going to offend and we are all going to wound and we are all going to hurt. But where there is swift, complete and persistent forgiveness, the marriage stays together, the family stays together, the congregation stays together. And God is honoured and blessing is poured out.
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 1 peter 2:19-20
Do you want to find favor with God? Then suffer a little. That’s how life is. In verse 23 we read, “For you’ve been called for this purpose.” So you see…it has to be like this. Fallen world, fallen spouse, fallen parents, fallen children, fallen family, it has to be like this. We have been called for this purpose.
Our Lord Jesus Christ left us a wonderful example to follow. When he suffered unjustly he committed no sin. When he suffered unjustly no deceit was found in his mouth. In other words, they had no reason to make him suffer, it was all unjust, it was all unfair. And yet,
” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
He never retaliated. He just gave Himself up to the Father and went on bearing our sins in His body on the cross. Let me put it this way…The bridegroom never walked out on his bride, even though she kept sinning against him.
No one ever suffered unjustly to the degree that Jesus did. Not you. Not me. Perfect, sinless, never committed a sin, never a lie in his mouth and yet he suffered more than anyone and he deserved none of it. Yet he never retaliated, accepted it and committed Himself to God for the purposes which God had in mind. So let God perfect you through your trials.
God’s forgiveness brings heaven to earth in Jesus Christ. Forgiveness puts heaven’s peace into the sinful heart. Human forgiveness is the image of God in Christ. Forgiveness is what resurrects our fallen natures. Forgiveness is what resurrects our broken marriages. Forgiveness is what makes a relationship last. It wont’ be easy, I guarantee it. I know how much work it is, how difficult it is. But in Christ it can be done. So turn to Christ and forgive each other.