What makes a marriage last the test of time?


God isn’t in the business of killing a good thing. As Isaiah notes, he “gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:29). Even in marriage? Especially in marriage, since God thought that one up in the first place. Still, how do we find the grace to run the race of relationship and not trip along the way?

Isaiah 40 isn’t about magic. Its opening verses recall the stumbling and sinfulness of God’s people. They speak also about the warm and compassionate heart of God. The rest of the chapter breathes a reminder to seek God’s care. Marriages, like careers or characters, aren’t made overnight. They happen when folks dig in for the long run and keep their eyes on the prize.

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck said that the scariest people aren’t those who have quirky personalities or relational scars. The most threatening folk, he wrote in People of the Lie, are those who don’t believe in a power beyond themselves. When people stop praying and assume an attitude of belligerent self-sufficiency, said Peck, they shrink the world to their perspective and seek to control it according to their whims. The result is always horrifying.

Marriages that go the distance are inevitably built on trust—in God and in each other. It’s as an 81-year-old man told me from his oversized chair. Slapping his hands on the armrests, he said, “We’re 60 years married this week and mighty proud of our family. But it’s not us that did it; it’s the grace of God.”

Isaiah 40:1–31

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

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