We were young and barely knew each other but we took a road trip to Atlanta eight hours away for a leadership conference. Some people would call it crazy and I guess we were. In the big city, we visited one of my best friends from high school and went to Eatzi’s market and bakery to grab dinner – it was filled with gourmet cheeses, chocolates, fresh warm bread, samples, and more.
I walked passed the floral section and saw a bouquet of sunflowers with Jeremiah. “Oh, I love these!” I said. “My favorite flower.”
After walking around the market, Jeremiah snuck back to the floral shop and scooped the sunflowers up in his arms and paid for them at the register. He handed them to me and my eyes lit up.
The Work of Marriage
That was 14 years ago. Fast forward to this past week. Recently, stopping at a sunflower field after picking my son up from camp, I was reminded of what God birthed in us in our early twenties. The memories of our young love flooded my soul with gratefulness and showed me the miracle of today.
Little did we know as two friends – soon to be lovers – that the winds, rain, and hail would one day attempt to destroy the garden of our marriage. Marriage faces the constant threats of unmet expectations, miscommunication, career changes, parenting hardships, financial pressure, personality differences, selfishness, and more. Little did we know the kind of labor required to cultivate the right conditions for a strong and healthy marriage.
In these moments, I’ve asked, “Lord, how can you make this work when all seems dark?”
How Light Shines In
Over the years I’ve learned that light shines in when I humble myself and let the Spirit work. When I bear all things, believe all things, hope in all things, and endure in all things (1 Cor 13:7).
Light shines in when:
- I face the hard questions: Will I follow Jesus’ ways or my own selfish desires? Am I willing to take a hard look at where I might be missing the mark and causing pain in my marriage?
- I let my husband lead, and not try to take control over him.
- I’m quick to forgive and ask forgiveness for my wrongs.
- I’m a diligent listener, and slow to speak.
- I’m his biggest cheerleader, not his critic.
- I confess, “God, I need your help right now!”
- I’m willing to fight for our marriage and realize we’re on a battlefield everyday against Satan’s schemes.
- I allow the gospel to penetrate my heart – that Jesus pursued and loved us in our ugly condition. He rescued us from our bondage to sin and is fully capable of restoring and transforming brokenness.
Seeds Grow in Darkness
If your marriage is suffering under the weight of life’s stresses, that is not the time to throw it out. Seeds germinate in the darkness of soil. They rest under the weight of the dirt pressed in, but despite the stress and pressures placed on them, they quickly take root and sprout. Darkness is where growth happens.
Give God room to work. Through the pain, wait on Him just a little longer and watch for his miracles. You just have to give it time and grow where you’ve been planted.
Sunflowers Mature in the Light
One of the things I love and recently learned about the sunflower is how it follows the movement of the sun across the sky from east to west. It does this for the entire cycle of its life as it matures and begins to produce seed that will create the next generation of life.
After time when our marriage has taken root and found strength from the harsh conditions of challenges and hardships, we need to continue to fix our eyes on Jesus – the Son – who brings life and hope to our relationship again. Marriages mature through strong devotion to Jesus.
Because You’ve Always Dreamed of a Beautiful Marriage
No matter what challenges you’re facing in your marriage, don’t forget how big God is and how abundant his grace is in your life. Remember the memories and joys in your relationship when it first began and how far you’ve come. Don’t uproot the seed that will soon produce fruit.
After difficult seasons, I have thanked the Lord for Jeremiah’s friendship and companionship. There’ve been deep valleys but also mountaintops filled with breathtaking sunsets. God has been faithful, and that bouquet of sunflowers was just the beginning of the abundant gifts God has bestowed on me through my husband’s love and service – even when I didn’t deserve it.
If you hang on, it might not be long before God uses your marriage as an inspiration for the next generation. On the outside, they will say, “Now that is a beautiful marriage.” On the inside, you will know that the surprising places where your marriage grew and matured were through the dark soils of life and strong devotion to the Son.
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mother to four, and writer in rural Colorado. She’s the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. To read more from Samantha, visit her blog: www.samanthakrieger.com She also enjoys connecting with readers on Facebook and Instagram.