Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
There was once a four-year-old little girl named Suzie who had just been told the story of Snow White for the first time in her life. She could hardly wait to get home from preschool to tell her mother and when she finally burst through the door, wide-eyed with excitement, she retold the fairytale to her mom.
After relating how Prince Charming had arrived on his beautiful white horse and kissed Snow White back to life, Suzie asked loudly, “And do you know what happened then?!” “Yes,” said her mother, “they lived happily ever after”. “No,” responded Suzie with a frown, “they got married.”
Well, in childlike innocence, this little girl spoke the truth in a way she never realised—because these days getting married and living happily ever after are not necessarily synonymous. Many couples who wed never even get close to experiencing the joy that God intended us to have in marriage. Statistics, of course, tell us this leads an increasing number of spouses to just give up and seek a divorce.
What is it that goes wrong for a marriage to crumble? This is a very complex matter and I’m not an expert, but it’s worth trying to think over and ask the Lord, Do you have any answers to help married people to stick at their marriage? Husbands and wives do get stressed, and trouble can easily turn into bigger trouble.
In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul says that men should treat their wives in a Christlike way but he even spells it out more clearly for us. For example, in verse 25 he says, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” That’s a very strong statement, men—it means we need to have a sacrificial love for our wives: that their needs should come first before our own, even when it’s costly. In fact, it means we are to be willing to lay down our very lives for our helpmates.
On Our Own, Marriage Is Impossible
I heard about the true historical account of one of the generals of King Cyrus, ruler of ancient Persia, who learned that his wife had been accused of treachery and had been condemned to die. He responded by rushing to the palace where he burst into the throne room and threw himself on the floor before the king. Then he cried out, “Oh my lord Cyrus, take my life instead of hers. Let me die in her place.”
Cyrus, who by all historical accounts was a noble and extremely sensitive man, was touched by this act of selflessness and said, “Love like that must not be spoiled by death.” Then he gave the husband and wife back to each other and let the wife go free. As they walked away the husband said to his wife, “Did you notice how kindly the king looked at us when he gave you the pardon?” The wife replied, “I had no eyes for the king. I saw only the man who was willing to die in my place.” That’s wonderful love, isn’t it?
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Now, most of us men will never have to put our love to this extreme of a test but we do have countless lesser ways to do so each and every day. I mean, we have plenty of opportunities to show our love as we learn to die to self daily and put our wives’ needs first. One wife rightly told her husband,
I know that you’re willing to die for me; you’ve told me that many times. But while you’re waiting to die, could you just fill in some of the time by helping me with the kids or the dishes?
Now, wives, can you imagine how wonderful it would be to have a husband who was always putting you first—who was constantly dying to self to make sure your needs are met? What an enriching marriage relationship you would have! For a marriage to work, we have to draw on God’s power. In marriage, as God intends, there are not two partners but three—and Jesus is the third.
In his book A Marriage After God’s Own Heart, David Clarke says,
On your own, marriage is impossible…It’s not just really, really difficult—not just a tremendous challenge. It’s impossible. Marriage is a never-ending series of conflicts, misunderstandings, and mind-boggling missed connections…Now for the good news:…Even with all our differences, marriage can work beautifully when we keep God at the center of the relationship.
Redland Baptist Church, US