“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12.
As a pastor, I often look at a person or couple and say, “hang in there!” Likewise, people tell me to hang in there as well. In that phrase I intend or receive a word of encouragement and hope. Galatians 6:9 essentially says the same thing, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Paul is telling us that it is possible to become weary at doing good, and that includes our relationships and marriage.
To “hang in there” we need perseverance. It is what makes life worthwhile in spite of adversity. It usually requires a level of courage we may not know we even possess. And it calls us to lean on and draw strength from the Lord when we are facing challenges that have left us weary and discouraged. We may be to the point we feel like giving up. But God hasn’t given up on us. At the proper time, we will receive the crown of life.
But sometimes it seems like things are just not working out. Happily ever after. Yeah, right. No one told you you’d be as miserable as you are. You started well, but now you’re living with a broken heart, feeling trapped in a difficult marriage without hope, and you don’t even want to begin to think about the future. Hope has taken the last train out of town, and you are resigned to facing some tough days ahead. Is this my marriage? Has it really come to this? You’re not able to run away from the reality that your marriage is empty.
My answer to that situation will not be popular with today’s culture and can seem like pie-in-the sky dogma that you would expect from a pastor. That answer is to not give up on the marriage. Don’t stop trying. Don’t stop praying and searching for a way to turn your marriage around. Miracles happen, and people change. I’m seen some pretty dire situations fixed through prayer, hard work, and determination. Where people work even harder to get the marriage on track and over time do exactly that.
That’s all fine and good but you tell yourself, “I’ve done this all before and have gotten the same negative result: Nothing really changes.” You are tired, frustrated, becoming cynical, and leery about ending up even more disillusioned.
I would encourage you to continue hanging in there because even then, God wants your faithfulness. Even in lonely times, God’s message is unchanged, “be holy as I am holy.”
Mature marriages result from two people developing the skills and selflessness needed to address the hard issues in their relationship. These marriages are a result of honest work and sacrificial love and are filled with transparency, humility, and honesty. They, indeed, have a depth of maturity that serves as a positive model. Along the way, at some time and in some circumstance, they chose to hang in there.
- Do you ever feel like you can’t hang in there any longer? What made you feel that way?
- Do you believe that God can fix/heal any situation? Do you believe some situations will never get batter?
- Do you believe you owe it to God to hang in there?
- What can you do this week to demonstrate your commitment to your marriage?