It was an overcast April morning. I stood in the fellowship hall of our family’s church. My heart raced as I peered through the stained-glass window into the sanctuary, catching only a glimpse of what appeared to be a full house through the blurred, colored glass.
I was anxious, but I was unsure why. I didn’t have any doubt that Liz and I were supposed to be married, but with the sanctuary full of the most treasured people in my life, I was nervous to walk out.
At that moment, some of my groomsmen grabbed me on the shoulder and we huddled into an intimate circle. And there, minutes before I walked toward the altar, we prayed together.
It created a sense of calm confidence that I was ready to take this next step.
During the ceremony, Liz and I stood with our backs to those in attendance. However, in an uncharacteristic move, the pastor stopped in the middle of the service.
His intentional pause was followed by these words:
“I don’t usually do this, but I’m going to ask you to turn around. I want you to see all of the people who are in the stands, in the balcony, watching, cheering for you. And remember the many who have gone before us who stand in the balcony as well, cheering.”
My soon-to-be wife and I slowly rotated to see a church full of some of the most beloved people in our life. This was our family, these were our mentors, these were our friends. Our eyes welled up in deep appreciation, and we gripped each other’s hand tightly.
What a beautiful picture of those we love coming alongside us, cheering us on as we began our lives together.
Then, marriage happened.
Marriage is Under Attack
Since our wedding day, we have experienced seven address changes, financial turmoil, infertility struggles, marriage counseling, the birth of our first son, followed closely by identical twins, illness, death, and cancer—just to name a few.
These circumstances have threatened to break the vows that were spoken that day and have given us numerous opportunities to throw in the towel. It seems as if our kids, our financial situation, our family struggles, my career, health concerns always seem to attack us at the root. Then again, that’s not surprising. If you want to destroy a tree, you must dig up its roots.
And that is why marriage is the most attacked establishment in our culture today.
Ten Years Later
Ten years after our vows, my wife and I haven’t thrown in the towel. We’ve battled these challenges together.
And when we were incapable of battling ourselves, it’s the people in the stands who have fought for us.
It hasn’t been easy, but it has been a beautiful picture of grace. Trust broken. Trust restored. Love abused, yet given still.
I’m slowly beginning to realize that the remarkable truth of the Gospel has been revealed in the most intimate way through our marriage.
Marriage is the most powerful reflection of God’s love for His people that we can experience as human beings. It is the context where we beautifully experience His divine presence.
And that is why marriage is under attack.
There are some who believe that maybe if they can corrupt the institution, it will cause us to question the Creator. If they can disrupt the most glorious promise of God’s love, maybe we’ll forget that He loves us at all.
Doubt vs. Faith
We’ve been fooled to believe that doubt challenges faith. That doubt is a big ugly sin. That if we doubt our marriage, if we doubt our ability to persist, if we doubt what God is doing in our life that we’ve already given up.
Doubt isn’t a sin. Doubt simply calls us to question, “What am I going to believe?”
From that place, we have the incredible opportunity to grow.
Instead of letting doubt challenge our faith, it begins to fuel it.
If you can’t stomach the thought of ending up like your own parents…
If the pain from your childhood is being relived within the walls of your own home…
If your job and the demands of your schedule have taken priority over your family…
If your desire to provide for your family has stripped you of your identity within your family…
If you’ve chosen addiction or infidelity to escape the unhappiness…
If you’re standing on a crumbling foundation….
If your marriage is already broken…
I still believe there’s hope.
When two individuals are willing to serve each other out of love, it paints a beautiful picture of the One who would humble Himself to show us this same type of love. So if you find yourself in the storm today, be encouraged. There’s a moment, when you persevere through the trial, you’ll look back and see a testimony of grace and His presence in the midst of it.
And if you’re thinking, that time has already passed, think again. God often delivers His people at the darkest point. Just at the point when everyone is patting down the dirt on the grave, God brings the dead thing back to life.
He will orchestrate your story for good, brokenness and all, if you allow Him to.
I guess my point in writing this is to tell you this. If you feel alone in your marriage journey, I want to tell you that I’m fighting with you.
I’m fighting for you.
I am in the stands cheering you on because I believe that your marriage can reflect the glory of God—if you let it.
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About the Author
You can order a limited hardback version of the book at www.redefinerich.com
To contact Matt or inquire about speaking, visit www.mattham.com/speaking