When we get married, most of us believe deep down that while lots of marriages are really hard, our marriage will be different. We all start out so eager to encourage, support, and please each other. We are marrying a wonderful person whom we love to the moon and back, and chose to marry. We won’t be alone anymore. We will have great sex as often as we please. Singleness was hard; by comparison, marriage should be easy. Sure there may be hard things here and there, but when we lock arms with our soul mate, the mountains will melt under our feet.
Adam seemed to feel this way. When Adam first saw the woman God had created to be his companion, he could not contain his joy: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). Somewhere deep inside, Adam appreciated that the woman, being formed by God from Adam’s own flesh to be his helper, would meet needs of companionship, support, and pleasure like nothing else God had created. And she would, for God saw that it was “not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18), and in his compassion, God created the perfect mate for Adam.
Adam’s expectations were as high as they could be on that first day. Unlike those of us that followed, Adam had not yet been corrupted by sin and seen its consequences when he first saw Eve. But his understandable, even righteous, naiveté did not keep him from the harsh realities to come. The pretty picture of friendship and intimacy tragically and violently falls apart in Genesis 3.
“In marriage, God calls you to show your spouse and others what his love looks like.”
Did God somehow make a mistake? Did he not see that the weakness in judgment of this woman would lead them both — and all of mankind that followed — into destruction? Did he not see that the marriage between Adam and Eve would be harder than they could have ever imagined? They literally gave up paradise to struggle for every mouthful of food. No marriage has ever been easy.
The amazing thing is that we always seem to expect it will be for us.
Love in a Land of Easy
Of course, marriage is not the problem. Sin is the problem. Adam’s sin. Eve’s sin. Our sin. Every marriage since Adam and Eve strains under the weight of sin. Sin makes marriage hard. Every marriage, period. So, should we not get married? Avoiding marriage will not make our lives any easier. Just ask a single person.
Apparently God didn’t create marriage to make life easy. God created marriage to unfold beauty, depth, strength, and love that could never be discovered in a land of “easy.” God created marriage to help us enter into the world of what real love looks like. If we are able to look past daily irritation, inconvenience, and selfish resentments to get a glimpse of the real thing, it will bring us to our knees in worship. Not of our marriage, but of God, himself. God created marriage to show us what his love for us looks like.
The Best Marriage and Worst Bride
We, the church, have the unspeakable privilege of being the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 19:7–9). In this marriage, we see love like Hosea’s — love that is lavishly poured on the bride by her groom, even when she scorns and reviles him, and seeks her pleasure in others (Hosea 2:14–23). We see a persistent love — love that never gives up, no matter how many times the bride runs to lesser gods to find joy that can only be found in the true Bridegroom (Romans 8:38–39). We see breathtaking, unexplainable sacrificial love — sacrifice unto death by the groom in order to keep and preserve a bride, a bride who daily seems to consider that gift less important than the comparatively insignificant earthly need she expects him to fill today (Romans 5:8; Isaiah 53:1–12).
This is not a pretty picture. But, paradoxically, it is a stunningly beautiful one. Someone would pursue, protect, forgive, and embrace me, even when I daily ignore, and, perhaps by my thoughts or actions, even scorn him? Someone would fight to the point of death to rescue me when I, hours or days at a time, barely acknowledge his existence? Why does this not cause me all the time to gasp at the wonder of it all? The harder God is willing to fight to demonstrate his love, the more beautiful it becomes.
Why God Gave You Marriage
“God didn’t create marriage to make life easy, but to unfold a love that could never be discovered in a land of easy.”
Marriage — and all very hard things we experience in this life — are a means God has devised to help us drink deeply of the immeasurable glory of genuine love. We would never see this beauty and depth strolling down an easy road. Persistent, striving, overcoming effort fueled by the sustaining power of our Creator God ultimately yields deep joy and satisfaction that selfish, spoiling, “easy” love would never experience or display. The best picture we have is the cross. Praise God Jesus didn’t expect his marriage to his bride to be easy. But because he was faithful in the hardest, ugliest marriage ever, we may now enjoy pleasures forevermore.
Is your marriage hard? If there is any form of abuse at all, please seek help. Draw others in immediately. But if the difficulty has its roots in the kind of sinful selfishness that can be found in all of us, how might God be calling you to display wonders of the depth and beauty of real sacrificial love?
In marriage, God calls you to display the love that God has shown you to the precious person made in his image that he has joined you to. God hasn’t encouraged you to seek all your satisfaction from your spouse — only God can be the source of your satisfaction. But God has called you to show your spouse and others what God’s love looks like. Not love between sinless people, but grace-filled, patient, and forgiving love. Love like Christ’s. What a high and holy calling. Husbands and wives who understand this will find that the hardest things they endure together are indeed some of the most beautiful and sanctifying.