Over the years (particularly on social media) I’ve seen arguments back and forth about a wealth and prosperity “gospel” and how it aligns (or doesn’t align) with the message of Christ. As I read through some of the articles, I started thinking about how these conflicting messages affect marriage.
In John 10:10, Jesus talks about “life to the full” or “abundant life.” What exactly does that mean for our marriage? What happens during all the *real* life moments when life feels far from abundant?
Is Jesus our golden ticket to a care-free, loving union? We raised the same question on our Instagram account today (read the caption, pardon the formatting):
So many spouses reach out to us because they’re fighting for their marriage and feeling like hope is lost. Chances are, you’ve felt that way too. Marriage takes two, but sometimes one side of the union gives up entirely.
Broken marriages happen because we’re broken people. Marriage has a unique way of exposing our brokenness more than any other relationship in life. It shows just how selfish we are, how entitled we feel, and just how unloving we can be. Sinfulness is the default human condition.
So, what do we tell to the husbands & wives who email us asking for advice on how to fight for their marriage? We only know one answer: Jesus.
Do we point couples to Christ because he’s some kind of wizard who can wave his wand to make all marital problems disappear? Or, is it because he’s a “love guru” who will finally teach them how to love each other well?
Marriages need Jesus because he’s the only one who replaces our brokenness with his fullness. He’s the only mediator who takes our sin and exchanges it with righteousness. He is the only judge who found us guilty and sentenced himself. He is the only King who adopts us in as his own children.
Only God is big enough to save you, and he’s done it. It doesn’t mean everything will work out perfectly, just that we have a hope that will never expire. In this life, we’ll experience brokenness. But in Christ, we have hope to celebrate and carry on in every circumstance – including marital strife.
Next time you face hardship in your marriage remember this: God is big enough to save you, powerful enough to change hearts, and loving enough to restore your marriage. Dig into God’s word, pray, and rest.
I will admit, I too find myself falling guilty to the thought process of God wants me to have “abundant life” i.e. a happy, long, prosperous and fulfilling marriage right? But is that his ultimate goal for us?
Let the comparison game begin
Typically what happens is we start comparing our marriage and it’s shortcomings to other ideal married couples. We then begin petitioning God for the things we want in our marriage, based on what someone else has. Before we know it, we’re frustrated with God that our finances, our relationship, our life isn’t full of happiness like we prayed for?!
Again, are we really understanding who God is at this point? Are we truly considering His end-game.
The pattern I’ve seen is when our own insecurities set in, we start praying and claiming things over our marriage that God may be saying no to because his plan and his ways are higher. (Isaiah 55:8-9).
This might mean enduring pain and discomfort…
Hardships force growth and help us glorify God
A great friend of ours since high school Josh (who’s been around the world filming, photographing and documenting for The Alliance) said it brilliantly,
“Hardships force some of our greatest growth, when we have no option but to lean into Jesus. Health and wealth are nothing if we aren’t centered in Christ. There is no promise of ease or comfort in being a Christ follower….just remember how life ended for Jesus’ apostles. In modern times, look at the lives of believers outside of the West and the suffering (and death) that so many face for choosing to follow Jesus. This isn’t to say Christians should feel guilty for having wealth (just by being born in America, we ARE wealthy by the world’s standard)…but if we are pursuing ourselves and our own happiness first, we are misguided and following the god of this world.”
Again, placing God as the means to our end ultimately causes us to lose focus on who He is and what He intended “full life” in John 10:10 to be.
Perhaps we are approaching the throne of our Almighty God with the wrong questions that stem from the wrong perspective of who He is and who we are as His children.
He is so much more to being a child of God than getting a golden ticket to a happy/problem-free life or marriage.
Father, Savior, Counselor
God is our Father. Jesus is our Savior. The Holy Spirit is our Counselor.
Beyond what He (as a Father) can give, He wants us to love and pursue Him and His kingdom (Matthew 6:33). He’s even gives us the order in which we should pursue him: FIRST.
Jesus is our prime example of love and sacrifice…of enduring hardship for a greater purpose. Even more than that, he is our SOURCE for everything of value we need in this life, including the hope, joy, and security we need to endure hardship.
His death should not be reduced to a footnote in our worldly desire for a prosperous marriage. In other words he shouldn’t be the way to get what we really want, he should be what we really want.
I’m not condemning happiness and those amazing problem-free days that we experience in our marriages. We should celebrate when times are good! What I am saying, however, is that if our only objective is health, wealth, and happiness, then we are minimizing who God is in our marriage and His plan that might require some hardship.
The result will leave us closer to Him; experiencing a deeper joy, a more fulfilling peace that is inexplicable to the world around us, ultimately bringing all glory and honor to Him.
HE is the better life
Dare we reduce God to our golden ticket to a better life? He is the better life. He is the ultimate end, not a means to some other, better end.
The love of Christ is so much more than the appearance of a happy marriage, or having all the money in the world…it’s true, deep, inexplainable joy. It’s peace in the midst of a raging storm, it’s comfort in the midst of deep loneliness and pain; it’s grace and mercy when we sin.
Father, you are mighty. Please forgive us when we seek other things before you. Help us to realize that YOU are all we need and anything which comes along with you is extra, but you are all we seek. Guide us in your ways, that we may bring glory and honor to you in and through our marriage. In your precious Son’s name, amen.
Have you heard of the The 31-Day Pursuit Challenge?
Every marriage begins with passion, purpose, and pursuit, but few stay that way. That’s why we wrote Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit Together, they make what we’re calling the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge. Couples are encouraged take the challenge together. We’re already starting to hear stories of transformed marriages! Are you up for the challenge?