I don’t know anything about your marriage, but there is one thing I know for sure: your relationship exists in a broken world, and you cannot escape the impact it has on you, your spouse, and your life together.
Maybe it means the frustration of living with the low-grade hassles of everyday life. Or perhaps you are facing significant issues that have altered the course of the marriage of your dreams.
It’s not an accident that you have to deal with the things you do. Your Father knows where you live, and he is not surprised at what you are facing. Acts 17 says that he determines the exact place where you live and the specific length of your life.
Even though you encounter things that make no sense to you, there is meaning and purpose to everything you experience.
I am persuaded that 1 Peter 1:6-7 is essential to understanding happiness in your marriage:
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (ESV)
At first glance, this passage doesn’t sound like the marriage of my dreams! But God is telling us one of the most important things we will ever understand about happiness and marriage.
God decided to leave us in this fallen world to live, love, and work because he intended to use the difficulties we face to do something in us that couldn’t be done any other way.
I don’t know about you, but most of us have a personal happiness paradigm. It’s not wrong to want to be happy, nor is it wrong to work toward marital happiness. God has given you the capacity for enjoyment and placed beautiful things around you to enjoy.
The problem is not that this is a wrong goal, but way too small a standard. God is working on something profound, necessary, and eternal - his personal holiness paradigm.
Don’t be put off by the language here. The words mean that God is working through your daily circumstances to change you.
In his love, he knows that you are not all that you were created to be. Even though it may be hard to admit, there is still sin inside you, and that sin gets in the way of what you are meant to be and designed to do.
God is using the difficulties of marriage in the here and now to transform you. Because he loves you, he will willingly interrupt or compromise your momentary happiness to accomplish one more step in the process of your rescue and transformation.
When you begin to get on God’s paradigm page for holiness through marriage, life not only makes sense but immediately becomes more hopeful.
The things you face are not irrational troubles but transforming tools. There is hope for you and your marriage because God is in the middle of your circumstances, and he is using them to mold you into what he created you to be.
As he does this, you not only respond to life better, but you become a better person to live with, which results in a better marriage.
Paul David Tripp
1. What are some of the low-grade hassles that you experience in everyday life? Why are they frustrating? How do you respond to these hassles?
2. What is the most significant challenge that you have experienced in your marriage due to living in a fallen world? How did you respond to your spouse and to God?
3. Why should you rejoice at the low-grade hassles and significant challenges that you experience? Be specific. How did they refine you, or how are they refining you?
4. In what way is your spouse suffering? How can you support and encourage them as various trials grieve them? How can you fight impatience and self-righteousness when they stumble?
5. Identify another couple in your life who is experiencing marital difficulties. How can you support and encourage them and speak the truth in love to their situation? Will you need to fight impatience and self-righteousness when they stumble?