Tag Archives: trials

In Sickness and in Health? (When Marriage Vows Are Challenged)

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There are factors that put a strain on marriage. Some are internal ones like pride, selfishness, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc., while others are external ones like finances, (un)employment, sickness, etc. (Both internal and external ones can or do occur mutually!)

Many have used the traditional vow in their marriage ceremony:

“I, (________), take you (__________), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and behold from this day on, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”

The negative part of each of those vows (worse, poorer, sickness) is hardly considered at the altar, for typically a couple’s dreams are floating on their present state of mind and emotion.

But what happens when that couple finds themselves in an unplanned storm of worse, poorer, or sickness? Suddenly the vows take on new weight. And for some, it is overwhelming.

Each one of those factors deserve attention, and can be addressed extensively, but my focus today is on the “in sickness and in health” part of the vow.

The marriage commitment is put to the test when a spouse becomes seriously ill, diagnosed with a disease, or develops an incurable condition. Many pass the test and their love and commitment grow stronger, while for others it seems to be the beginning of the end of their marriage. (We have walked through this with my husband’s diagnosis of epilepsy nine years ago.  That valley (everything that occurred as a result  from his first tonic-clonic seizure in another country) shook us, but our commitment to each other and especially MY commitment to him, emerged fortified.)

Worse for a marriage than a spouse becoming ill is when a child is struck with a life-threatening illness or is born with a serious medical condition. From what I have read and been told, it seems that most of those marriages fall under a stress that eventually fractures the union entirely. (If you know of any studies in this area, please leave a comment. I’d be curious to see factual statistics.)

This is heartbreaking on so many levels.

I said most, not all. In the book Between Heaven and Healing, author and pastor’s wife Melanie Boulis shares the story of their daughter’s diagnosis and battle with cancer, and how it affected their marriage:

“Kevin and I were starting to fight a lot over Danielle’s care. The stress was building and we were taking it out on each other. The tension was awful. Caring for Danielle became a 24-hour a day job.”

Even spiritual leaders are not exempt from the stress and strain of this type of battle. The good news is that the Boulis’ passed through that storm, and are still together. The sad news is that their daughter passed away.

A friend who is walking through a difficult time with her sick child wrote me, upon my request, with the top ten ways to pray for parents of seriously ill children. The first request on the list was for the marriage:

“Most couples I know from the hospital are divorcing or their marriage is shaking badly. I would ask for prayer for the marriage, and time for couples to continue showing their love. Before the child, you are a couple; but when you have a sick child you forget that… and if the child dies there’s not much to rescue if the couple didn’t have time for each other.”

I think it’s both brave and wise of her to share that, and to make it the top prayer request. If you know of a family in this situation, would you pause momentarily and pray for their marriage? Also feel free to leave a comment below with the names and current situation of a family with an ill child, so that we can pray for them as well.


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Still Have a Dream?

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, today’s Monday Missions Motivator was inspired by this quote by him:

Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream…

When the excitement fades of the culture you’ve crossed, when you walk in a fog and your hopes seem lost,

Do you still have a dream?

When the passion has waned, and the joy turns to pain, when the stress overbears and does anyone care?

Do you still have a dream?

When the road to the future seems uncertain and dim, when you look ahead and can’t clearly see Him,

Do you still have a dream?

When trials, tribulations, and offenses come, when your bravery and boldness becomes undone,

Do you still have a dream?

Then consider His goodness, mercy, and love, then see Him descending in form of a dove,

And remember your dream.

Then wait in His presence seeking His face, the reward in His hands are strength and grace,

To remember your dream.

Then call on your friends, sisters, and brothers, then see mystical workings of “one-anothers”,

To remember your dream.

Then rejoice in His name, above all, powerful true, then weep or shout for God has revived you,

To still have a dream.

© 2012 I.K. Hadinger

Is Jesus all you need?

For the woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer- is Jesus all she needs?  Or does she need someone’s shoulder to cry on, arms to embrace her and a voice to intercede on her behalf?

For the husband who just lost his job due to downsizing- is Jesus all he needs?   Or does he need friends to encourage him, a wife to assure him, a church to stand with him in prayer, perhaps even financial blessings to see him through?

For the aged widow who just buried her husband-is Jesus all she needs?   Or does she need meals delivered, groceries purchased, people stopping by to ‘love’ on her, others to weep with her and listen to her?

For the homeless man sleeping on the street- is Jesus all he needs?  Or does he need someone to give him clean clothes, hot meals, a shower and a job?

Is Jesus all we really need?

While it is true Jesus is the only way to eternal salvation, it is not true that Jesus is all we really need living here on earth.   We sing “He is all we need” with such gusto and our arms raised high -until a tragedy strikes and we desperately need others there standing by us and helping us.   He’s all we need until we spiral downward into depression and need someone’s hand to reach down and pick us up.   He’s all we need until we’re rushed to the emergency room and wish our spouse, or neighbor or pastor or friend were there so we won’t suffer alone.   He’s all we need until our loneliness threatens to overtake us and we long for a friend to talk to who understands us and encourages us.

It’s usually not until we walk through a time of pain or devastation when we realize just how much we need each other.  We need the church, the body of Christ.    We need people, who are created in the image of God (Gen 1:27).   We need people who can bear our burdens and so fulfill Christ’s law (Gal 6:2).

Do you need Jesus?   Absolutely!  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  (John 14:6)

But is he all you need?  No.  You need others who represent him; others who give you a cup of water in his name; others who are his hands and feet and arms and voice.