We only have to recall the Genesis account of the lightning-like speed with which that first marriage dissolved from marital bliss into betrayal to realize that relationships are fragile—especially marriage relationships. The splintering can take many forms, but sooner or later, blaming sets in. Lysa TerKeurst wrote, “It is impossible to hold up the banners of victim and victory at the same time.”*
That was the conclusion to which our friend Susan finally came when it seemed her 20 years of marital bliss were coming to a screeching halt. Susan and Bill (fictitious names), both Christians, had enjoyed what seemed to be an idyllic marriage until Susan’s health began to deteriorate. For two years, she was totally focused on her own debilitating condition, oblivious to Bill’s pain.
As a military man, Bill felt there were few safe options for confiding in someone about the stress their lives had taken on. The anger and resentment toward Susan (and ultimately toward God) and frustration in his work continued to build to the point that Bill decided he needed to get out. At the time, divorce seemed like the only solution.
Initially, Susan was horrified that he was so self-absorbed as to not understand her need. It was she who had been suffering, going from one doctor to another to find answers and relief. That he could even contemplate leaving was unthinkable to her after all that she had been going through. But, by God’s grace, she woke up one day to realize that if the marriage was to be salvaged she had to be engaged in the battle. Being right, being justified in seeing oneself as the offended party would do nothing to restore the relationship.
As we know all too well, sin in a marriage is not one-sided. As soon as Susan dropped the “victim” banner, her eyes were opened to seeing her own sin and her heart to repentance. By succumbing to fear she had yielded to self-absorption, neglect and disrespect of her husband. Totally unaware that Bill had been carrying her pain and his own, Susan had not been there for him. And in their season of distress, the enemy who roams around to devour some unsuspecting soul had been covertly attempting to destroy their marriage. (I Peter 5:8)
Susan and Bill were being robbed of the beautiful marriage they had known for two decades; by God’s grace, Susan hoisted up the banner of victory in Christ and chose to stand for her marriage. Peter wrote, “Withstand him; be firm in faith (against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined) …” (I Pet. 5:9 AMP)
We will share Susan’s battle plan and ultimate victory next week.
* “Uninvited,” Lysa TurKeurst, Nelson Books, Nashville, 2016, pg. 87