God never promised us lives or marriages without problems— sometimes severe, grief-filled problems that have no apparent solution. And it has nothing to do with how long you have been a Christian or how mature or experienced you are in the walk of faith.
The Bible issues no guarantees that you or your spouse will live to a ripe, old age in excellent health or that your children will be spared injury, illness, or premature death. What God’s Word does help us see is that we can still find hope and joy even in the most desperate of circumstances. Persevering love remains strong, constant, and even joyful when there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Notice in the following passages the partnership of great suffering and great joy:
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18
“In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind ... Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:4-10
“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
In times of crisis and stress in your marriage, especially in those seemingly hopeless situations, you may secretly wonder if your spouse will draw closer to you and stand with you no matter what—or if he or she will turn away and let you battle the storm alone. You may also wonder if you have the strength to hang in there with your spouse or if you will be tempted to walk away. Now is the time to decide and agree: Together we will tackle anything that comes our way, and we will stay together no matter where it goes. That’s persevering love.
Persevering love has very little to do with feelings of love. Perhaps more than any other expression of true love, persevering love is a decision you make despite how you feel.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” Romans 5:3-4
As Romans 5:3-4 states, character development and confident expectation are the by-products of persevering love. When the bottom falls out of your world and you must hang on through illness, injury, unfaithfulness, or another trial, God is still there. As you endure, he is making you stronger inside.
When you commit to persevering love, you are deciding to stay together through suffering, to walk through pain, and to remain devoted through difficult times—until you are parted by death. You are offering your spouse the assurance that he or she will never be alone, even if debilitated physically or mentally. Persevering love assures you the privilege of walking through every storm with your best friend.
*For more helpful insights on how to connect with your spouse, check out Renewing Your Love: Devotions for Couples in our online bookstore.