With Easter quickly approaching, I’ve been spending time in the book of Matthew reading about Jesus’ crucifixion and the Lord has been opening my eyes and mind to the suffering he experienced this Holy Week. All too often I feel I gloss over the deep anxiety, despair, abandonment and betrayal that our blameless Savior walked through in order to give us the opportunity for eternal hope and life with him.
Some of us are all too familiar with these heavy words in regards to our marriage: anxiety is something we experience daily; abandonment happened months ago and the betrayal of trust…we constantly question if we will be able to trust him/her again. Despair has become our new M.O. because let’s face it, we aren’t really sure what the next step is with our spouse is.
Our marriage, like Jesus, is facing a brutal death because of sin.
While in the midst of our suffering and confusion, we often make the mistake of looking to ourselves for that inner strength. Thoughts of, If I just dig deep enough or think/say enough positive things, it will be better circulate in our minds often leaving us more frustrated. It might get better for a few days, but friends, we cannot forget that we are a broken humanity who like Peter in Jesus’ last hours, denied knowing him. Or Judas; asking how much will I get if I compromise? (Matthew 26:15)
We are the ones in the crowd shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!” on Sunday and yelling “Crucify him!” on Friday.
Looking inward for the answers to our suffering, or even to why we are suffering, is a dead end because we are broken and sinful. All too often I forget my sin nature; it breeds contempt, bitterness, isolation and eventually death (Genesis 3), and without Jesus I have no hope; our marriage has no hope.
During this Easter season we must lift our eyes, in the midst of our suffering, and look to our Savior King Jesus who is not naive to the suffering taking place in our marriage. But who himself, endured ridicule, betrayal and pain in order to secure an eternal hope for us to cling to.
Friends, he has walked our path.
Remember His Suffering
Jesus knows what betrayal from an intimate friend feels like, and yet in the midst of that betrayal, Jesus dealt with him (Judas) in grace. Even to the extent of calling Judas “friend” (Matthew 26:50) as he was about to betray him.
And what about mental anguish and deep anxiety?
Did Jesus not face an extreme level of anxiety in the Garden of Gethsemane? With his soul full of sorrow (Matthew 26:38) He knew the physical pain he was about to endure and the separation from His Father (something he had never experienced before) was coming. He cried out to the Father, petitioning for this cup to pass, but also, 100 percent willing to walk out the path laid before him. An incredible level of anxiety, knowing pain is coming, but still – STILL clinging to His Father’s plan and saying “Not my will” (Matthew 26:42).
We look to Jesus, not as a standard to live up to, but as a Savior, who conquered death and who calls us out in love saying, “Come, my yoke is easy. My burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)
Our Savior, who endured all of these things, so that we might run to the cross and remember, in the midst of our own suffering, that he deeply understands and knows the suffering we face in our marriage. He is knowledgeable, trustworthy and overflowing with grace and mercy.
Easter is a reminder to us that access to such grace was made available only through Jesus and what he did that “Good Friday” on the cross. He is the only way, truth and life (John 14:6).
What His Death and Resurrection Mean for Our Marriage
By being the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus gave us freedom to approach the Father.
Theologically speaking, we see this displayed through the curtain to the Holy of Holies, in the temple, being torn in two (Matthew 27:51) when Jesus died. Representing the barrier that once existed between us and the Father which was eliminated because of Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
What this means is that we can now approach the throne boldly and confidently (Hebrews 4:16), even (and especially) when we don’t feel like we have it together.
In the midst of our suffering we can be in His presence – where there is peace, and joy and love that is other-worldly.
When Jesus rose from the grave, he conquered death. This does not eliminate suffering from our marriages (or life in general), but Jesus gave us a Counselor (John 14:15-21) – the Holy Spirit to lead us, comfort us and encourage us to do the works he has prepared for us in our marriage, in the midst of suffering.
Friends we know, for some of you, your marriage is on the verge of a brutal death and the suffering that you are enduring is making you weak. It’s wearing you out and you too find yourself petitioning God to let this cup pass.
Be encouraged Fierce one; lean into Jesus – who is mighty to use even the most dark and desperate moments of suffering in your marriage, to bring you closer to him and deeper in your understanding and belief in the gospel that bring true heart and life transformation.
Run to the cross! Sit in his presence!
Remember this Easter how he suffered, died and rose again for you and I, and take heart in knowing that life does not end here. The suffering you’re facing in marriage today is not the end of the story – eternity with Jesus is. The suffering we face today is not beyond God; the pain we experience is not lost on him. He loves you, He has saved you and eternity starts now.
Jesus, thank you for what you endured for us. Knowing not all would believe and knowing that some would reject you. Thank you for suffering so that we could come confidently and pray to you about our own suffering and trust that you know and understand more than we know. You are a Savior who has been there – experienced betrayal, rejection, abandonment and anxiety to levels some of us may never know. Thank you. We celebrate all that you accomplished through your suffering, death and resurrection. For each of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I pray that you, Holy Spirit, would strengthen them – bring encouragement and leading to the suffering they are dealing with. Thank you for your peace and hope that is eternal and authentic. We celebrate you Jesus! Amen.
I would encourage you to read one (or all four) of the gospels about Jesus’ death and resurrection. To take some time to sit and think about Jesus; his suffering and his resurrection and how the message of the gospel encourages you in your marriage and in the midst of the suffering you’re facing.
Happy Easter Fierce Ones.