Everyone wants a great marriage. However, a recent CBC article reports that the implications of COVID-19 – a feeling of losing control, economic upheaval, isolation and anxiety – are having their toll on relationships across the country. Even solid marriages are feeling the strain.
Our current circumstances are nothing new for Christians. Over the past 2,000 years, followers of Jesus have faced war, pandemic, persecution, the fall of empires, and disasters of all kinds. And yet, God’s kingdom has not only prevailed but grown.
Over the next few minutes, we will explore some of the wisdom that has helped Christians overcome adversity and how this knowledge can help your marriage during the current crisis.
Practice The Basics
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of coaching little kids as they learn how to play baseball. Many of them had never played before, and it was hilarious to see the look of shock on their face when they finally hit a ball. They would stand there, so excited that they forgot all about running to first. As a coach, I would fill up our practices running drills on the basics of the game. Over and over, we would go through throwing, catching and hitting.
The essence of practice remains the same for every level of athlete, from little league to professional players. There is a reason Aaron Rodgers spends hours every week throwing the football and running through plays. There is a reason Steph Curry stands on the court shooting countless numbers of hoops. There is a reason Sidney Crosby runs through stickhandling drills.
Every good coach and athlete knows how important it is to constantly practice the basics. When the game’s pressure comes and there is little time to think, their response will come naturally.
The same is true of us in our daily walk with Christ. Paul encourages us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2). We are to focus on becoming like Jesus through spiritual basics like prayer, reading scripture, worship, study, serving and telling others about Jesus.
These daily practices build in us the character of Jesus so that when the pressure comes, we naturally respond as he would. Just think of it – a husband who is filled with the Spirit responds with “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). Imagine the impact on your marriage.
These daily practices build in us the character of Jesus so that when the pressure comes, we naturally respond as he would.
Beware The Little Things
On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off, killing all 7 crew members. The live footage of the disaster created a vivid memory in many people’s minds. People were stunned that such a high tech piece of equipment created by some of the greatest minds could fail so spectacularly and without any warning. In the end, investigators discovered faulty o-rings as the cause. All the cutting-edge technology, research and effort were undone by something as small and simple as o-rings.
The fact that it was something so simple deeply shook many involved. While technicians worried about complex computers and large engines, they took for granted the simple components and didn’t worry about them. When we are under pressure, it is often the little things we overlook that put us in the greatest jeopardy.
Satan will try to undermine your marriage, not through bold frontal attacks, but by chipping away at the little things. That annoying habit of theirs. When they don’t notice the things you have done for them. When they seem to always get their way. When they remind you of the task you said you would do but haven’t. Slowly, feelings of resentment begin to grow. If we allow these to build over time, catastrophic failure is inevitable. Especially during times of stress and pressure like we are experiencing now.
Satan will try to undermine your marriage, not through bold frontal attacks, but by chipping away at the little things.
Resentment gains ground when we hold on to perceived hurts and let them build. Paul warns us, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27). We need to forgive and let our anger go. This does not come naturally, and we need to ask Jesus to give us the strength. We need him to change our perspective.
Mostly, resentment gains ground when we focus on ourselves and lose focus on our calling. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Ephesians 5:25). Sacrificial love does not let the little things become explosion points. Sacrificial love forgives and looks to serve.
Choose to Thrive
We all want to have great marriages. COVID-19 may present us with challenging circumstances, but they are not anything new for God’s people. The Holy Spirit has guided his people through greater challenges than these. Jesus loves you more than you can imagine, and he desires for your marriage to be wonderful. Practice the basics, and guard yourself against the little things.
By focusing on Christ, our marriages can not only survive but thrive!