Trust in Trials

I shared this story with a men’s group recently but it is worth repeating. It is a true story and one that I saw with my own eyes. An elderly gentleman had a wife with Alzheimer’s disease and when he could no longer take care of her alone, she moved into the nursing home in town. Every day, without fail, the man came in to see his wife. She no longer recognized who he was but nothing ever deterred his love for his wife. When he came in to see her each day, he brought her flowers. He sat next to her and put his hand in hers. When meal time came, he fed her and did what he could to care for her. He always had this compassionate love in his eyes for her and would talk to her and remind her of things.

This struck me at the time, when I only had a few years into my own marriage, but to this day, so many years later, it moves me even more now, as I think back to this man who was dedicated to his wife despite her inabilities. She had no significant way to give back to him. Why would this man do this? Many may think today, “What’s the point? It’s not even really ‘her’...just a shell of the person she once was. She’s not going to know anything. Why make such an effort?” Well, good question, but I know how the husband would respond. “That’s my wife. She will always be my wife. In sickness or in health, ‘til death do us part. That was my covenant of promise I made to her.”

In our society today, I’m not sure we take our covenant promises too seriously. The idea of “taking a person at their word” doesn’t seem to go too far. Our words mean little and the circle of people we actually trust are very few. I often ask when I counsel couples before they get married, “For what purpose to believe that God has brought you together?” I am often met with blank stares. If we think our spouse is going to fulfill all of our needs, we will be terribly disappointed. This makes ourselves the focus of the marriage rather than our spouse. Arguments come because our expectations coming into the marriage are not being fulfilled. Things can change dramatically when we focus on how we can serve each other rather getting our needs met. Otherwise, our selfishness and pride get in the way.

Paul said in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Our example is Jesus, who loved us and gave Himself up for us.

Jesus brought an upside-down Kingdom. Instead of pride and seeking to take first place, Jesus calls us to humility of heart and honoring others first. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. In serving Jesus, we actually become free.

I don’t know what you may be experiencing today. You may be in a difficult marriage or facing hurt or pain. Often we blame God for the trouble. I wonder, however, if we are just not seeing a bigger picture. Like the wife in the story above, she may not have understood the full love and commitment of her husband. In her situation she was confused. We may not understand the depth and love of God in our situation. Jesus can identify with our weaknesses. He had been tempted and tried in every way just as we are yet without sin. He is present, He walks alongside of us. He comforts us in our weaknesses and sorrows. Are we willing to trust God even when things don’t look so good?

God has a bigger purpose for us. We may not see it all now—only in parts. There is a pastor friend of mine whom I have been blessed to work beside. He often says what we experience in this life is for “God’s glory and our ultimate good.” Living for the glory and honor of God can be difficult for us to grasp, especially when our lives aren’t going so well, yet when we trust Him that He has our ultimate good in mind, we often see with new eyes. He places people and positive things in our lives we didn’t expect. Then we also have hope beyond this life where all our pain and sorrow, sickness, sin, and suffering will be wiped away and we will experience our Savior, Jesus Christ, face to face. Until then, we shine His light in a dark world where He can be seen and we will be examples of His selfless humility and grace to others. When we seek to love and glorify God first, the outflow of this is our love for others. When we make this life about God and not ourselves, it is a game-changer.
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Mark Anderson

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