In Sickness And In Health
Our commitment to Christ and our commitment to each other is to be “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.” That’s what we promised each other on our wedding day. The problem is that when we say these vows we most often don’t comprehend that the “worse” and the “sickness” may actually come about and it may stay. It also may get quite ugly and exhausting.
But that isn’t to negate what we promised each other in the first place or what God promises. He promises to always be with us. He promises to give us strength when we’re weak. He promises that we will reap a harvest if we don’t become weary in doing good. (See Galatians 6:9-10.) And even if we never see that harvest this side of heaven —to have Christ say to us “well done good and faithful servant” should be reward enough.
When we stick with our spouse and love him/her through the good and the bad —we need to remember that we’re doing this as “unto the Lord” (see Matthew 25:40). We’re giving a drink of cool water to someone who is thirsty (See Matthew 10:42 and Mark 9:41).
[Marriage Missions Editors Note: Below you'll find two separate stories on the subject of loving each other despite sickness in marriage, drawn from the excellent book, For Better, For Worse. They testify of those who have endured times of sickness with their spouse. We pray they'll inspire you and help you!]
-by Lenne Kugler-Hunt
Kris became sick about four months after we got married. It was unexpected and disabling and is now in its sixth year. This is not the way I envisioned our marriage. This sort of thing shouldn’t happen to a young man in the prime of his life. And it shouldn’t happen to love. That’s been one of the lessons of his illness —that it was sent by the enemy to steal away Kris’ life and to crush us. It was sent to make love fail.
But a funny thing happened on the way to robbing, killing and destroying —God showed up! I have to admit, I have wished for Him to show up differently from time to time. Of course, my desire is that God would have healed Kris immediately and completely. But He didn’t, perhaps in part because our understanding of healing was so incomplete. The good that God has brought into the situation includes our lessons in perseverance. I learned in a new and fresh way that love involves sacrifice. Kris learned he was worth more than his performance and his ability to work.
I’ve been reminded again and again of the viciousness of the enemy and his commitment to wreaking havoc. But mostly, I’ve been reminded that love, born of God does not fail. It is not weak. Rather, it is purified and strengthened by the fire. Costly though that is, I am grateful for the chance to see love vindicated.
Father, we invite You to shake in us what can be shaken, that what remains would be unshakable. Lord, purify our love. Let it indeed be patient and kind, full of hope and mercy, and a balm for the things that ail us. Amen.
Life Was No Picnic
– by Ginnie Mesibov
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)
“We’re losing him,” I overhead the cardiologist tell his nurse. My husband was lying on a gurney in the emergency room of the local hospital, suffering from the coronary occlusion. The doctor gave him another dose of a new clot-buster drug. It worked. Harold survived his third heart attack.
Life was no picnic in the early years of our marriage. I was the worst person to be married to someone with a severe chronic illness. Handling sickness was not one of my better skills. It was natural for me to panic and over identify with my husband’s problems. When his heart pounded, my heart thumped so loud I could hear it in my ears. When he had difficulty breathing, I gasped for air.
Every crippling problem he faced crippled me even more. I knew I couldn’t continue like this or I’d be dead long before him—from anxiety alone. I literally had to renew my mind and be transformed With God’s help, I gradually changed my thinking.
I changed how I thought about love. Love doesn’t require me to suffer when Harold is suffering. Love requires me to attend, to take care of and to listen to my husband. Loving objectively allows me to serve him without panic.
I changed how I thought about life. Life is difficult and includes suffering. For some reason, God has allowed severe illness to come into Harold’s life and, therefore, into mine. Accepting illness as a part of life and God’s will reduces the accompanying anxiety.
I changed how I thought about my husband. Harold is alive! This is my focus. Despite his ill health, he’s a vibrant man with an engaging personality who is making a viable contribution to society.
In addition to changing my thinking, I changed my activity: We celebrate! We use any excuse for a party —birthdays, half-birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, good health spurts… Our lives are full.
I also changed how I pray. Now I pray more fervently for my husband’s health—his physical, emotional and spiritual health. I pray more earnestly for mine as well, asking God to fill me with His peace. And He has. God is a God who hears and answers prayer.
I’m not a pro at coping with illness; I’m on a learning journey. But today, because of the changes that I made, I can honestly say that life with my beloved husband is a picnic.
Dear God, Thank You for helping me to renew my mind. It is by Your power that I am being transformed into a woman who can handle adversity and be at peace. May I continue to trust in Your love, knowing that Your will is best for the both of us. Amen.
The above true-life articles can be found, along with numerous others, in the book, “For Better, For Worse” compiled and edited by Marlene Bagnull, published by Christian Publications. Unfortunately, this book is no longer being published so you would need to find it in a used book form to read it. But what’s so wonderfully unique about this book is that it even has a section dealing with illness within marriage. You don’t find that subject being addressed very often. Part of the reason for this is because of the book’s format. It goes through each part of the wedding vows (“To Have and to Hold, For Better or for Worse, For Richer, or for Poorer, In Sickness and in Health, Forsaking All Others, To Love and to Cherish, Till Death Do Us Part”) and has numerous true stores about real people—who are choosing to live out the vows they made on their wedding days.