The Hard Stuff {and the test of our togetherness}

Every couple and family goes through trials. There are no formulas when the fire comes. How have the trials you've faced brought you closer to one another and to God? What gets you through? What commitments do you make with one another to keep pressing on?

Even though Jesus told us that trials in life are inevitable (John 16:33), we are still surprised by them, mad at them, and at times, defeated by them. God’s intent for intimacy and friendship in marriage may be severely tested when these trials come. But the hard stuff doesn’t mean the gift of marriage and marriage with kids is not good.

Our oneness, our ability to be a unified support to one another and enjoy the friendship God intends our marriage to provide is not only dependent what happens between a couple, but also what happens to a couple. In different ways, all of us experience the hurt and hard stuff of living in a less than perfect world. The hard stuff has a way of testing our togetherness.

The good news is, God does not abandon us. While we may feel helpless, the vows we took when we married remind us we are not hopeless. In Jesus, we have all of the resources we need, together, to live out the missing vow to love one another even when it is very hard. Trials don’t have to tear us apart.

In fact, sometimes God “takes us into the depths of our despair in order for a new hope to be born.”[1] It is possible to come through our trials with a hope and joy that is more securely set on the truth and promises of Christ. God can and does use the hard stuff for our good. In marriage, our trials can be a doorway into greater maturity, intimacy, and dependence on God’s grace.

So how do we get through? How do we find hope when we’re living in the middle of the hard stuff? How do we stick together when we are overwhelmed? There is no one method or formula for dealing with all that life throws at us. And sometimes “getting over” the challenges is impossible. But there are hopeful and God-honoring ways to get through the pain, and they begin by not just getting through, but getting through them together.

Biblical love is not about how we feel; it is about how we take action. It is a deep commitment to honor God and honor one another no matter how hard life gets. We have found the following five commitments to be helpful when walking through painful seasons as a couple.

  1. We trust what God’s Word says and not just how we feel. It is so easy to be ruled by our emotions. Even when we don’t feel like it, we will allow God’s truth and promises to be our anchor.
  2. We will pray and read God’s Word together regularly. We will not let our hurt dislodge us from abiding in Christ. We will run to him and not from him during this season.
  3. We will be selfless lovers. We will have a servant attitude, not allowing our expectations, comforts, or desires to get in the way of honoring Christ and one another.
  4. We will talk often and talk openly. We will share our hearts with one another, ask questions, and stay connected when it would be easy to withdraw or shut down.
  5. We will not walk through this alone. We will reach out to friends, family, and our church to help us get through the hard stuff.

The hard stuff can drive us into a deeper relationship with one another. The hurt is still there, but the hurt is less when we have our togetherness. Looking beyond the pain, we can walk with Jesus through afflictions and into the arms of the Father, all the while trusting that God is doing something with our hard stuff. We may not always understand it, but we have a promise that God is using the hurt in his story. It is this confidence that enables a marriage and family to persevere in the middle of our fallen and hard stories. Our pain comes with a promise – it is not being wasted and one day he will do away with the hard stuff, once and for all.


Patrick Schwenk

[1] Allender, Dan. The Healing Path. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 1999. Print

Similar Posts