“For about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness.” Acts 13:18
A seminary professor once told me marriage was not about love, but two people enduring each other. Obviously, he did not write cards for Hallmark. When he made this remark, I thought him incredibly pessimistic and cynical. It even led me to question his relationship with his wife. The comment has remained forged in my mind ever since. I hate to admit it, but he was right. When I finally embraced his wisdom, I discovered something deeper within my own relationship with my wife.
Love, at least how we often understand it, is an emotion. Emotions are susceptible to change. They are often grounded in our partners ability to meet our expectations. Even when we don’t clearly express those expectations. Enduring is a discipline. While infinitely less romantic, a discipline is less susceptible to mood swings. It is willing to carry the burden of the other.
The problem I had with the word “enduring” was its relationship to abuse. It seemed to suggest a person should endure the abuse of the other. Verbal and physical abuse is not something to be endured. However, he was clear in his comment. Marriage is two people enduring each other, not one person enduring the actions of the other.
This observation is not confined to marriage. You will understand the depth of any relationship when you consider the mutuality of enduring. Who cares for you enough to endure your nuanced behavior? Whom do you care enough about to endure their idiosyncrasies? When these two interact with each other, you will discover a very precious gift.
I find incredible hope in the strangest, and often, most pessimistic scripture verses. Paul gets up and starts recalling all the wonderful acts of God, including, putting up with Israelites in the wilderness. One of God’s greatest acts was putting up with us? It is comical on the surface and moving underneath it. I find profound hope in knowing, God is willing to put up with me. Even when I have difficulty putting up with myself.
This past month, the wife of this seminary professor passed away. I never really knew him or his wife. Nor did I know anything of their relationship, beyond this one observation. All I knew was a lesson grounded in his relationship with his wife. This lesson remains one of the great blessings to my life. It continues to shape my relationship with my wife, my children, and with God. Thank you for the life your enduring relationship gave to me.
Click to read: Acts 13: 13-25
- What would your first reaction be to this observation?
- Where do you find beauty in enduring? And, where do you find it difficult?
- How do we know when enduring becomes abusive?
- Do we ever endure God? If yes, how?
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