It’s clear that times are tough. Some of the effects are obvious, like the recent headline that one in seven Americans—44 million total—now lives in poverty. That number includes almost one in four American children under age 6. What a terrible toll that must take on them and their parents.
Of course, the “poverty” level defined here is quite high in comparison to the rest of the world, and government programs provide enough for many to get by. But the number here is still shockingly high and a dramatic increase over the previous year. People are hurting in very real ways. Many of us probably could name friends and family whose lack of steady work has stretched from months into a year or more.
Obviously such circumstances take a toll on many things—our health, our mental well-being, our relationships. They all suffer during tough times.
For several years now, The Good News has offered articles to help families cope better with the new economic realities. In this issue we focus on our relationships in these tough times, particularly marriage.
Remember your marriage vows? If they were like most, they probably included words like, “I take you to be my husband (or wife), in good times and in bad, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health…”
Those words acknowledged that neither life nor marriage would always be easy. And while many might think the Bible promises an easy path for those who are faithful to God, the reality is that “in this world you will have trouble” and “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (John 16:33 John 16:33These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
American King James Version×; Acts 14:22 Acts 14:22Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×, New International Version).
So how will you fare in tough times?
Sometimes God tells us to buck up and face reality, as in Proverbs 24:10 Proverbs 24:10If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.
American King James Version×: “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” That’s a good reality check.
We can also couple that with encouraging promises such as those we find in Hebrews 13:5-6 Hebrews 13:5-6 5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.
American King James Version×: “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
God is certainly faithful to us in times of adversity. Will we show that same faithfulness to those who depend on us?
In The Good News we regularly point out that most people have a flawed understanding of what true love really is. Most view it as an emotional feeling, and emotional feelings fade all too easily. The Bible, however, defines love as outgoing concern for others—being more concerned for them than for one’s own self.
The apostle Paul made this clear when he wrote: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged…Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever…There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 4 Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;
6 Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
7 Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
American King James Version×, New Living Translation).
Love, at its heart, is a choice. You can use the trials you experience to strengthen the bonds of your marriage, or you can let them drive you apart. The choice is yours to make. GN