“In a significant and personal way, God taught me about “in sickness and in health” and asked me again if I meant it. By His grace, I do.” (Martha Marlow Carpenter)
On our wedding day, we vow to love, honor, and stay true to each other “in sickness and in health.” Usually, we don’t realize when we promise this, that seasons of sickness often become a part of our married lives. When it does —particularly when the illness is chronic, we’re caught off-guard.
We Experienced This
When Steve and I (Cindy) married, we didn’t realize that just a short time afterward Steve would become a Type-1 Diabetic. It drastically changed our “normal” for the rest of our lives together.
In truth, even when one of us was sick even in the short-term, we usually didn’t handle it very maturely. Our behavior wasn’t always as unselfish as Christ would want of us.
So when Steve, overnight, became an Insulin-dependant Diabetic, our vows to each other started a journey of testing in ways we’d never imagined possible.
For anyone who has lived with someone who has Diabetes they know that it drastically changes everything. It delivers with it a lot of “grow up” opportunities. Your lives together are never the same.
I’m ashamed to say that over the years I mentally entertained many pity-parties over this whole matter. And too often my behavior reflected that, in which I allowed my mind to indulge.
I’d like to share one incident in particular, however, because I think it has lessons for us all. At that time in our marriage, because of Steve’s Diabetes, we had been going through some real difficulties. His diabetes caused a lot of sleepless nights, particularly for me. (Steve was barely awake for many of them.)
One night there was a huge incident involving an insulin reaction. It was both embarrassing (because most of it occurred in public) and scary. Afterward, I didn’t think I could handle anything like that again. When Steve came out of his reaction, and I knew it was safe to leave him alone in the room, I told him that I needed to have a really tough talk with the Lord—alone!
Because we were staying in a hotel at the time, I didn’t have many places to go to be alone. So I went into the bathroom. I locked the door, drew a huge bubble bath, laid in it and cried, and cried, and cried. I remember telling the Lord, “This isn’t what I signed up for when we married. This is too hard. Steve isn’t the same man I married. I want out! I can’t take this anymore!” What I wanted was God’s permission to leave Steve, forget my wedding vows, and never look back.
God was merciful. He let me cry for the longest time. When I got to a place where I would listen, He spoke amazing truth to my heart. He let me know that “Yes, it’s true you didn’t know marriage was going to be this hard. And yes, Steve isn’t the same man you married. But that’s the way it is. Deal with it! This is the ‘for worse’ part of marriage. It’s grow up time because marriage isn’t for children.”
And besides, as the Lord brought to my attention, what made me think that I hadn’t done a whole lot of changing myself? I was certainly no picnic to live with sometimes either.
In Sickness and In Health Was My Vow
As God spoke to my heart He let me know that just because marriage was more difficult than I’d imagined, that didn’t give me the right to break my promise to honor Steve in times of sickness.
And what about Steve? Did I think this was a picnic for him? Was his having Diabetes a choice he made? And because of his Diabetes does that mean that he shouldn’t marry because it brings hardship upon his wife?
God let me know of His love for Steve and for me, and that He has a mission for each of us to work in partnership together. We were to be together through the good times and the bad.
I now understand that part of that the mission has been to be a helpmate and an understanding wife. I am to reflect the love of Christ even when I don’t feel like it. That’s part of what it means to be a Christ follower. We are not spared times of suffering. But we are called to participate with Him in rising victoriously ABOVE or wading THROUGH whatever comes our way as Christ shows us the way.
God Has a Purpose
“Our desire is that our marriages would be the location of our comfort, ease, and enjoyment. We often have desires no bigger than this. But God’s purpose is that each of our marriages would be a tool for something that is way more miraculous and glorious than our tiny, little, self-focussed definition of happiness. He has designed marriage to be one of the most effective and efficient tools of personal holiness. He has designed your marriage to change YOU.” (Paul Tripp, from his book, What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage)
It’s during those difficult times that the love and character of Christ has the REAL opportunity to grow within us. All else is preparation time for the real thing. It’s during those tough times that we especially need to listen, yield, and follow through with all that God reveals to us in His Word, the Bible. (That’s why we need to make the time to read it.) Even in His silence, there is much to learn.
Oswald Chambers wrote:
“Abraham went through 13 years of silence. But in those years all self-sufficiency was destroyed. There was no possibility left of relying on common-sense ways. Those years of silence were a time of discipline. The only thing for which we are all being disciplined is to know that God is real. As soon as God becomes real, other people become shadows. Nothing that others do or say can ever perturb the one who is built on God.” (My Utmost for His Highest)
I’m learning a lot through this journey. Yes, my husband has changed since we first got married. But we ALL change —daily. Life is fluid. Everyday living consists of changes, which can’t help but change us with it. So what are we to do? Are we to allow ourselves to break promises and act out in ungodly ways because our spouse is now different than when we first got married? No.
If so, how can anyone ever count on us? The Bible says, “If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth” (Numbers 30:2).
Each day, God has been teaching Steve and me what it means to live out our promises. We’re learning to adjust in Christ-like ways to the challenges we face. But it hasn’t been easy, by any means.
Even though we WANT to always respond to each other in loving, selfless ways, we sometimes react as we shouldn’t. Even the apostle Paul battled with that one. (See: Romans 7:15-25.) But we’re learning, and we’re growing in the grace and mercy of God. For that we are thankful.
It is our hope that whatever you’re facing in your marriage, you’ll allow God to work in and through you to demonstrate the merciful love of Christ. We also hope that your life will be a living testimony. We are to be “more than conquerors in Christ Jesus” — to communicate the gospel with and without words. Our lives are to demonstrate that what God is able to do for you, He is able to do for them. That is our prayer for all of us.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ALSO —
We have additional articles you can read on this issue posted within the “Mental and Physical Health” topic.
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Filed under: Marriage Messages