When we vow to be faithful during times of “sickness and in health,” who really believes our commitment will actually be put to the test? That’s especially true when it comes to a serious accident or an illness. They test every fiber of who we are in our marital commitment. Who would think, who would believe we would ever have to deal with an affliction like this? Yet sometimes, it does.
And when it does, there are times when every part of you screams out, “I didn’t marry this!” And yet you did. I did. In my wildest dreams (or nightmares) it never occurred to me on our wedding day that I would be called upon in the future to keep this particular promise (with my husband’s health issues). Many times God has reminded me of the original vow I made, when I’ve needed to be reminded. How easy it is to forget during trying times of affliction!
That’s why I named this blog, “Courageously Committed Despite Affliction.” It takes sheer courage and perseverance to stay committed and loving when illness attacks, or an accident crashes into your marriage.
A while back I read a book titled, The Vow. It tells the true events that happened to Kim and Krickitt Carpenter where their vows were tested to the fullest. As it states in the book:
“Two months after their marriage, a devastating car wreck left Krickitt with a massive head injury. She was in a coma for weeks. When she finally emerged from the coma, she had no idea who Kim was.”
It’s quite the story and quite the test of the determination Kim has had to live through when he “made a vow.” Both Kim and Krickitt have persevered, nonetheless. (By the way, they are now releasing a movie based very loosely on their story. Prayerfully, it will be an inspiration to others who need to grab onto that type of courage in their marriage relationship.)
Strength and Courage Needed
A while back, we had a wife named Jenny, and an unrelated husband named Kirby who left comments on this web site. They posted under the article, Starting Marriage Over After a Brain Injury. Both tell a few of their struggles to hang on. Their spouses changed dramatically after they were married because of Traumatic Brain Injuries. How I pray the Lord gives them the strength and courage they need, when darkness creeps into the situations they face. It’s what I call the “silent scream stage.” That’s where everything within you is screaming, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
We don’t know all that Kim and Krickitt and Jenny and Kirby are going through exactly. No one can know unless they have been put in a similar situation. But I do know about the silent scream stage. That’s because I’ve lived through it many times.
When my husband Steve (who became a Type 1 Diabetic about two years into our marriage) has gone into full-blown insulin reactions, which bring about dementia episodes, I’ve wondered how I could continue on in our future, after the immediate crisis settles down. All of this is frightening, confusing, and difficult, to say the least. Type-1 Diabetes is more complicated than most people realize. It’s difficult for my husband Steve and it’s difficult for me. It also can truly be trying on the strength our marital commitment, at times.
But THANK YOU GOD for the strength and perseverance I’ve/we’ve been able to grab onto, to push past the fear and confusion that grabs hold during times of affliction. I never realized when I said, “I do,” on our wedding day, that this would be a part of our lives together. But it has been. I talk in length about how this in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS TO GROW OUR MARRIAGE.
A while ago, I came across an article written by Ken Tada. He is the husband of Joni Erickson Tada. He actually DID recognize the seriousness of his wedding vows to honor and love his wife in illness. She was already quadriplegic when they married. I’m sure, however, he never realized the degree to which his vows would be tested. But tested, they have been!
In a Todayschristianwoman.com article titled, “In This Thing Together”, Ken wrote:
“My wife and I aren’t marriage experts. We aren’t even experts at doing the disability thing. But we know this: suffering can either drive people apart in a marriage, or it can bind them together. And just as God reveals tender, intimate things when we patiently hold fast to him through our personal suffering, a marriage is tenderized when a couple patiently holds fast to God. This also happens when they hold onto each other —through hardships.
“I say this to any husband and wife going through tough times: God always reveals himself to us when we come together. He reveals himself when we need him desperately. And when we cling to God out of need, one of the most satisfying fruits of the Holy Spirit —the fruit of patience —can’t help but take root in a marriage.
“I don’t automatically recommend marriage to young disabled couples when ‘quadriplegia’ is in the mix. It’s difficult. It requires a lot from any two people. But for those, like Joni and me, who choose it, or for others who experience illness or injury after the wedding vows, God’s grace really is sufficient. I guess that’s because he’s in it ‘together’ with you.”
Another Helpful Article
That’s the theme of another article concerning suffering during times of affliction. It’s posted in on another web site, and is written by Jerushua Ann Clark. I highly recommend you read:
And then, the ministry of Family Life Today had a 3-day radio broadcast series that you may want to either listen to, or read the transcripts through the link provided below. I believe you will find them to be very inspiring:
“In October 1995, Pastor John Bishop lost his memory to Aseptic Meningitis. His wife, Donna, stood by his side helping him to learn how to walk, talk, read, and write all over again.”
For Those Suffering Affliction
For those of you who are living with a spouse or a child who is seriously ill (or injured), or you are suffering in this way, please know that God is with you. Even when you don’t see Him or sense His presence, He is with you. God will “never leave you nor forsake you.” This is true no matter what the present circumstances scream out to you. Eventually, you will see that. It just may not be in your timing and in your way you expected.
And also, please know that my husband Steve and I value you. To us, you are one of the (unrecognized) heroes of today. It takes more courage to get through your days than anyone else will ever know. And the loneliness you feel at times is enormous. That’s because it’s not easy to find anyone else who could ever understand what you have to wrestle with, push through, and push past each day.
All this goes on while you see others who have “normal lives.” You sometimes think to yourself, “I wonder what it would be like to live like that?” It’s easy to go into the “How I wish…” cavern in your mind. But beware. It can take you places that can zap you of the strength you need.
Our Wish and Prayer
Here’s a “how I wish” for you: How I wish I could be an encourager for you as you deal with affliction. How I wish I could help you in some way, beyond the words I am writing. And how I wish I could lift up your arms like Aaron and Hur did for Moses (as written in Exodus 17) to strengthen you when you feel weak.
After the battle where Aaron and Hur held up his arms for victory Moses said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord.” I am praying that whoever reads this blog will feel strengthened, by the Lord Himself, as I lift you up before the Throne of God.
Peter, as told in Acts 3:6, told those who came to him for help, the same thing I would like to say to you. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you.” I pray for you, cry for you, and I cheer for you that you will do what you know you should and can. I encourage you with these words to embrace:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
I hope you won’t. I hope together, we won’t. May we keep persevering through times of affliction, and do “good” all the days of our lives!
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.