KEEPING THE COVENANT IN A HARD SEASON OF MARRIAGE – PART 2 (THE GIFT OF PAIN.)
The Gift of Pain
When the “The Passion of Christ” movie debuted, and I got to watch it, I remember crying uncontrollably. I cried so much. I couldn’t just fathom what Christ had to endure for me. The sinful me. The mortal me.
They made it so real that every inch of me shuddered at the thought of how much pain we put Christ through YET HE IS GOD and still good to us.
He was the suffering servant. YET HE IS GOD. He was despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief; And like One from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him.
He could be able to turn the hearts of men to himself, make himself loved, yet he chose to endure pain, both physically and emotionally.
At the end of the day, there was the gift. The gift of Salvation was given unto us.
Have you ever seen how newlyweds dance around after their wedding vows? No one is really aware of what lies ahead and no one expects hard moments. No one expects bumpy rides and we never wait with bated breath, for the unexpected delays.
We say “For better, for worst, for richer, for poorer” but are almost never prepared for the worst, for the pain, for the hard moments that grip us.
We want the highs and never the lows.
We want the sweet moments, but can never come to terms with the painful arrows that pierce through our hearts.
I know am always prepared for the easy moments – who can never gladly embrace them?
I was never prepared for the moments where my husband and I could disagree, throw each other under the bus, hurt each other with our words, and having to come to terms with the fact that some circumstances will be beyond my control.
I was never prepared enough for such. I still don’t think I will ever be; it’s just that God’s grace is sufficient for such times.
We are never prepared for pain- at least not consciously.
But does God expect us to be prepared?
Do we marry our spouses expecting them to hurt us? Do we consciously prepare for the day “my spouse will break my heart into smithereens?”
Whoever loves, risks to be hurt, not just because it’s common, but because of our infallibility.
Christ hurt too and his is evidenced by the scars he has.
He hurt, both physically, emotionally and mentally, but still gave us a gift of salvation. A gift freely given to us for our redemption.
I, like you, have never wanted to experience pain. I wanted a marriage devoid of misunderstandings, pain and harsh criticism. I wanted a smooth marriage.
I wanted the happy ever after story, like Snow White and Prince charming.
I wanted my husband to be “perfect” in the sense that he should never hurt me. I wanted a serenade every day, to be pampered and spoilt without a shred of pain.
All these are good, and indeed they are there in marriage, of which most of us brood on them that they turn fanatical, blinding us to the realism of marriage.
The realities that await us in marriage. The reality that your husband is human, he will hurt you and your wife is so human, that she will disappoint you.
The reality that pain is inadvertently part and parcel of marriage.
The reality that marriage is hard work, and nothing short of that.
The reality that our spouses are infallible and will fall short of our expectations very often.
The reality that the worldly standards of “conditional relating”, never makes an abundant marriage.
You see, we often think that when God says that “fear not, I am with you”, that he is with us in the “shadow of death”, it means that He’s sort of acting “The Thor” role in our lives. Our assumption is that he shields us from all the calamities of the world, and that we will NEVER experience pain. That cannot be further from the truth.
Sometimes hard seasons come to us, not just in marriage, but in our everyday lives, to teach us one or two things about ourselves and God. Hard seasons come even to the very best of us.
We cannot escape from the sanctification process of the Lord and pain is a tool the Lord uses unreservedly.
Remember Joseph? He was sold by his brothers into slavery. I can only imagine his thoughts and his feelings then.
He must have been in pain.
The emotional pain echoed louder than the physical pain.
Throughout his life in Egypt, he got from the boiling pot into the fire and back to the boiling pot. Potiphar’s wife accused him falsely, the cup-bearer forgot about his promise to him, what else was there left for him to hold on to?
But then, one day, Potiphar had a dream that only Joseph could interpret. He was put back to a place of glory. Restored.
His character refined. He was not just a carelessly speaker anymore – “just because God spoke to him.”
He Bible records Joseph saying in Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Let’s plumb in deeper into our daily life. Have you ever been in pain? Physically? Don’t you begin thinking, “what exactly could be wrong with me?”
I have experienced severe migraines most of my life and the pain isn’t sweet. Pain calls attention to something that needs to be investigated deeper.
Unfortunately, we may easily fall for the thought that pain in marriage is a punishment for something that we have done or not done. Sometimes you could be the best wife, the best husband, but all you get from your spouse is a spat on your face.
Could it be that something is wrong somewhere or is God saying something louder that we cannot grasp with our superficial nature? When we look thorough our human lenses, pain is actually bad but what if God considers pain as a gift to us?
Think about it.
Christ came and took all our sins, bore them painfully on the cross until he said, “it is finished.”
At the Garden of Gethsemane, his brow was covered with sweat and blood.
And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). He said, “my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34).
Jesus was in pain. Yet he did nothing wrong. He was in anguish. He knew what would happen to him the next day and all he wanted was the cup to be taken away from him – yet he bore the pain.
He was stripped naked, a crown of thorns was made and placed on top of his head, he was pieced at his side, made to carry an old rugged cross that was so heavy for him to bear.
He was ultimately crucified, mocked as “The King of Jews”. His was not an easy death.
He was scarred. His heart was scarred, his body was scarred, his soul was scarred…. YET HE BORE THROUGH.
His pain gave us a gift of salvation and every time we look at his scars; we are reminded of the beautiful love story. The story of the man who loved us unto death. The story of Jesus Christ.
Pain, is allowed by the Lord into our lives act as a way of God pruning out what is wrong, unwanted and unwarranted in our lives. It’s not necessary because we have sinned, but because the Lord wants us to develop HOPE AND TRUST IN HIM.
Pain is allowed sometimes in our lives to tame our sinful tendencies of FOCUSING ON MAN MORE THAN HIM.
Romans 5:4-5 says,
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
God wants us to take our eyes off the gods we have made for ourselves and focus on him. God wants us to focus on him when everyone and everything has been stripped off us.
Nothing can be fine without experiencing some pressure of some kind. A pot has to go through the potter’s hands into the furnace.
We face hard seasons so that God to strip away our SELVES and bring forth a beauty that can be seen by all. He alone can turn scars into beauty marks of purpose.
A fruit that can minister to everyone for his glory. A fruit that can be desired by all to the glory and honor of his name.
Psalm 119:71 says it this way: “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Nothing gets our attention quite like pain.
The pain from a broken relationship.
The pain from a broken marriage.
The pain from the betrayal of a trusted friend.
The pain from being falsely accused.
Lest we forget, the Lord is near to the heartbroken and He saves those who are crushed in spirit (contrite in heart, truly sorry for their sin). PSALM 34:18. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]. PSALM 147:3.
No one is devoid of pain. We all have scars and they remind us of wounds we went through at the hands of others. They are painful. You may think that pain sometimes is bad, or your scars are ugly but in actuality, God can transform them into beauty marks. Marks of purpose.
Pain is sometimes a gift, paradoxical right? Because in your scars, God can make beauty marks.
God can transform them into beauty marks that tell of a beautiful story.
Look at the hands of Christ! Look at His feet! These aren’t merely scars. They are marks of triumph over sin and death. Look at the cross, it speaks of His unending love for us.
Jesus’s scars became beauty marks. His suffering indeed had a higher purpose when He brought salvation.
Like a sheep being guided by the shepherd so are we in the hands of Christ. His rod disciplines us, but his staff comforts us.
That is our Lord.
PAIN IS A GIFT.
The pain that we go through drives us to our knees just like Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. We run to Christ for help rather than running to our spouses, parents or relatives who seem to be better placed to help us.
WE FULLY TRUST IN HIM
Can you trust the Lord with your marriage? Could you let God mold you through your husband and could you let God mold you through your wife?
After all is said and done, God is still God. He doesn’t free us from pain in our daily lives nor our marriage, but he is a constant source of comfort, refill and gives us the grace to go through all – leading us in the path of righteousness, for marriage is not just about happiness, but for sanctification. He brings out His righteousness through us.
And do you know when the righteousness of God is found? THE FRUIT OF PEACE IS FOUND. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.(Isaiah 32:17).
Then when a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.(Proverbs 16:7).
How profound. That through pain peace can be found? God is a God of mystery. His wisdom, is infinite!
He is there through all seasons in our marriage, we shall therefore not fear.
Are you in pain now? Embrace the season with an open heart and yield to the Lord. Surrender your marriage to the Lord. Surrender your spouse to the Lord. Surrender your heart to the Lord.
He will eventually bring you His peace that surpasses ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING because no one can comprehend how pain can bear peace – BUT OUR GOD KNOWS!
PAIN IS A GIFT!