(Written Feb 2012 and updated March 2015)
Today I heard Mother Angelica on EWTN talking about Faith, Hope and Love and how they affect us in the good and bad times in our lives. She explained the role of Faith, Hope and Love in our lives, especially as they relate to God. She reminded me of how important these three words are in how we handle crisis. When things are going good in our lives, we are thankful and we should be thankful to God because we have Faith in His existence. When we do thank God we have Hope in His nature; in His ability to allow us to experience good things. In good times we Love God and feel Love from Him because we have Faith and Hope. So when things are going well we believe in Faith, Hope and Love, but what happens when we have a crisis? Or what should happen when we have a crisis or are experiencing bad times? It is in the bad times that Faith, Hope and Love are allowed to grow. It is in the bad times that we exercise our belief in Faith, Hope and Love. We decide to believe what God says in Holy Scripture about how God will meet our needs (Phil 4:19), how He is with us and will help us (Isaiah 41:10), how all things work together for good if I love Him (Romans 8:28), how He is our Rock, Salvation, Defense, and Fortress (Psalm 62:6), etc. We believe that God can be miraculous for us, if that is needed, but that He can also bring good out of the bad situations. God can make lemonade from the lemons in our life. But why does it seem that bad times last longer than they should? Or why does it seem our prayers may go unanswered?
First, let’s look at the idea of time? God’s vision is perfect; it spans all aspects of time. I once heard that time to God is not linear and to Him 1000 years is like a day. So He will answer our prayers in His time and in His way, with His perfect vision. Mother Angelica explained God’s vision like this: Imagine cars driving on the road, you as an individual are driving in one of those cars. You can see a few hundred yards in front of yourself, or just the next few minutes, but God sees you and your life from up above. From His position He can see how today’s navigation of the car will impact things in future years and even generations. He can also see how our lives are intertwined with each other, not only now but in the future. So, some detour taken today, may be needed for a time in our lives decades from now, and will decades from now, interact and effect people we do not know today. That is why we cannot be God or even play God, we cannot see more than a few hundred yards or a few minutes ahead of this moment, right now, only God can. So rationally, would we rather put our trust in the driver of the car with limited vision and foresight? Or would we rather put our trust (faith, hope and love) in the driver of all space and time?
Why is it so easy for us to accept this analogy about a car but so hard for us to truly accept it in our lives and the lives of our loved ones? Are we lacking in Faith? Hope? Love? Or all 3? I would guess that on any given day we may be severely lacking and on other days not as much.
How do we strengthen our faith, hope and love when our marriage is in crisis? Day in and day out we might be struggling to see God, so faith, hope, and love seem impossible to muster!! Most days it may seem as though there is nothing left to salvage in our marriage, isn’t that an indication that our marriage is over?
The good news is: your marriage is not over! The bad news is: there may be many difficult and painful detours before your marital happiness returns. Think of the car in the second paragraph. Imagine your marriage is the car. Choose to believe that God desires your marriage to succeed but that He needs your life to experience a few detours before your marriage experiences the happiness He has planned for you. We might not know the WHY until we see Him in heaven. But the HOW is possible to get our minds around today. One day at a time, we chose to trust that God desires to save our marriage and that He is navigating the car (our marriage). He has not abandoned us but is allowing us to experience these bumpy, even treacherous detours. We are still under his guidance and protection. In scripture God assures us that we will suffer and that our suffering will be for His glory. If our marriage is a marriage of 3 persons (husband, wife and God), then shouldn’t we expect to suffer in our marriage? But shouldn’t I also expect that God will deliver us from this suffering or fiery ordeal?
Let’s look at 1 Peter 4:11-13 11 Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.
How can we apply this scripture to our marriage? I would suggest that being a Servant Spouse is relying on the strength of God, strength beyond our understanding, to supply us with the perseverance to endure our marital suffering. Serving our spouse in humility, when we would rather flee or return harm to our spouse, is glorifying God in our marriage. Instead of being surprised that God would allow us to suffer in our marriage, maybe we could embrace our suffering as a necessary detour to the happiness He has planned for us. And although it seems impossible that we could rejoice in our suffering, we should not be surprised that we suffer in our marriage because we are sharing in Christ’s sufferings, as promised in scripture.
Time as it applies to faith, hope and love is a difficult thing. For us, it took 10 years for God to deliver us from our marital crisis. For you it may be a few months, years or longer. But I have learned and experienced that God will deliver you from your suffering, in His time and in His way. He will transform the mess of today to a happy, fulfilled marriage. Our challenge is to not give up and to remember that even the decade of suffering that my husband and I experienced might be as short as a second in God’s time.
Action: Take it one day at a time. Wake up each morning and choose to allow God to mold you and shape you into the person He needs you to be for the success of your marriage. Instead of pointing fingers at your spouse and their short comings, focus on what you can change which is yourself and the strength of your relationship with God.
Prayer for your Spouse by Melissa B.
Heavenly Father, in the beginning, you yourself instituted the sacrament of marriage. Bless _________ in her/his role as my wife/husband. Grant her/him the grace to persevere in love for me. Help me to be the support she/he needs today and always, so that she/he may see Heaven. May my eyes see her/him as you see her/him and may I look past her/his failings to see her/him as your child and my life partner? May we as a married couple choose you as the foundation of our marital love, and may you strengthen our marriage to withstand all types of suffering. Grant that I may die of myself and trust in your divine plan for our marriage. Help us to be truly one, as you designed. This I pray, in your Holy and Precious name. Amen.
Know someone suffering with crisis in their marriage or in their life.
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