Today is the 12th Anniversary of Danielle and I getting married. In that time we have had 7 zip codes, 2 states, 10 homes, 2 children and 1 phone number (yay for cellphones!). We have twice experienced the terror of being out of work for 6 months where we had to scrape by on savings, tax returns, night-shift entry level jobs, and gifts. Then there were the difficult births and pregnancies, the car engines exploding, the house repairs that cost way more than we thought we could handle, and more.
These are not the kinds of things you are dreaming about while standing in front of your friends and family saying “I do.” Usually you are dreaming of a life where late nights are nothing but laughter, children act just as you expect and desire, and you never leave the upward curve of a better and better life. But that is not reality. And I am thankful for that fact.
The reason I am thankful for this is the simple fact that without challenge – without effort or difficulty – nothing happens. Bonds are not strengthened, stories are not made, and life becomes very quickly becomes a shallow, bland puddle.
Consider any good movie or book. There is always conflict, difficulty, and pain. There are good times as well, but if the entire story was nothing but one soft, nice thing after another it would be boring and bland. There would be no growth, no depth, and no truth to it.
Consider Scripture itself. In it we find both terror and triumph. Pain and joy. Strength and weakness. From Adam & Eve to Abraham to Sampson to David to Jesus to the Apostles, we find meaning and strength not because everything went smoothly but because it did not. Because it did not we can find truth and help in our time of need. In Hebrews 4:14-16 we read,
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Understand, friend, that Jesus Himself was tested and tried just as we are! In doing so He became able to sympathize with and help us. I say this to say that in a different way, we too can help others from the trials and tests that we have encountered in life. Our difficulties in life are not to grind us to nothing, but to build us into those who can perform the works God has prepared for us.
At the beginning I listed many of the difficulties we have faced as a couple. We have also had uncountable joys as well. The long trips full of laughter, the movie nights, the traditions built as a family, the games, the worship, the times everything looked wrong but turned out better than dreamed of and so much more. All these things, good and bad, are what God has used to mold us and grow us as a husband & wife and as a family. Wherever you are in life, God can and will do the same, if you will let Him.
My hope and prayer for both you and I, is that we will always do so.