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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me. PSALM 23:4
I know a man whose son has battled a serious illness his entire life. His whole family has been shaped around the requirements of this boy's chronic care.
Never a full night's sleep. Never a trip where he and his wife could totally unwind. Always the possibility of a bad-news phone call and another long stay in the hospital.
When I asked him what this odyssey has really been like for him and his wife, he said, "Dennis, when you face an ordeal like this as a couple, there is an intimacy with your spouse that grows incredibly sweet, incredibly deep. God has taught us some things about Himself—such profound ways of trusting Him and knowing Him and walking with Him—that I really wouldn't trade it for a life of ease."
Can you believe that? This man ought to feel cheated and angry. But he has a smile on his face because he can look back and see where God has taken him and his wife.
It's so easy for us as couples to have those dejected conversations: "Life is horrible . . . God has forgotten us . . . our Christian faith doesn't seem to work anymore." That's why Barbara and I try to frequently look back over the dozen or more serious trials we've endured in our marriage, just to get a new perspective. From that vantage point, you can see progress—the things God has done, the intimacy He's grown in you, the trust, the faith, the spiritual muscle.
Why not pull off to the side of the road sometime. Look back into the valley. See how far you've come. And be glad He's given you each other for the journey.
Which difficulties have forced you to grow the most? How much stronger are you now than you were then?
Thank God for using crises—the valleys you would never choose to enter on our own—as places to grow us, even when they feel like they're destroying us.