I’ve been pretty sick lately. The past few years, I’ve seen over 30 doctors, been through what feels like millions of tests, and made significant changes to my lifestyle all in the name of health. I never would have thought my life would look like it does now.
My husband, Scott, and I celebrated our first anniversary last month, and a lot of people have been asking, “What have you learned in your first year of marriage?” I’ve struggled with this question. My initial reaction is, “Uhh, everything!” Of course, I know full well that I have not learned everything. But when you uproot your life and place it in the hands of another, there aren’t many words to describe all that comes with that.
When I got married, I had no idea what it meant to promise my life “in sickness and in health.” In theory, I understood I was committing my life to Scott no matter what. But what seemed like a foreign concept on our wedding day, was the commitment I promised Scott even if he didn’t keep his promise to me. And, as it goes, he promised the same to me.
I’ve been to the emergency room a few times this year. I never expected to feel so vulnerable. Scott has helped me shower, brush my teeth and get in bed. In the middle of a fight with my spouse, as my body is falling apart, the last thing I wanted to do was let him help me. I was thinking, “Help me? No, I’ll do it myself. Oh wait, I can’t move my body without you right now. So, I guess… help me.” And isn’t it the same with the Lord?
I don’t like being sick. I don’t think anyone does, really. But what if our physical sickness is only a parallel to the spiritual sickness the Lord wants us to admit? I’ve realized that I need a doctor’s help, but how much more do I need Jesus, the great physician’s help? (Mark 2:16-17) I’m willing to search endlessly to find answers to my physical ailments. Why not the same for my spiritual health?
God has written me a prescription for life in his Word. And part of that prescription includes how to love my husband.
This year neither of us have kept our promise. We’ve been hurt and hurt the other. And that’s the kicker, right? Making the choice to love your spouse no matter what - even if they hurt you or even if you hurt them.
What have I learned in my marriage over this past year? I’ve learned that love is a choice. And, as a friend said recently, it’s one you must choose every day. Regardless of what the other “deserves,” I’ve promised my life to Scott. I’ve promised to love him in sickness and in health - and that includes the spiritual sickness of my heart.
The same way Scott loves me when I’m physically sick is the way I can choose to love him in spiritual illness.
So how can two spiritually sick people love each other and treat the other not as their sins deserve? Only by the blood of Jesus. Only by our Great Physician healing our hearts, providing continual repentance from our sin, and enabling us to walk rightly.
“This is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
It’s Christ’s love that we get to model in marriage. And that takes work! It’s not a quick fix. My migraines won’t resolve themselves overnight. I work at my physical health. I work hard to get the right amount of sleep, I plan my meals so I can eat healthy, and I follow my doctor’s plan precisely.
In the same way, the process of sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) is continual. The Lord gradually molds us more into Christ’s likeness until he returns. And, thus, we continually learn more and more how to love our spouse with the same love we’ve received from Jesus.
Ever been to a doctor and thought they were totally wrong only to find out later they were exactly right? Me too. I think our Great Physician is right on this one too.
How are you doing at choosing to love your spouse even when they are unlovable? Remember, all of us are spiritually sick – all of us need the Lord. (Isaiah 53:6) Next time your spouse responds in a way that hurts you, stop the conversation. Take a minute to pray together about the hurt and ask the Lord for strength to love each other in that moment.