We’ve heard the stories before— about the couples that go through awful circumstances of illness, where the wife is diagnosed with cancer or the husband needs round-the-clock care for a disease. Together they fight and battle and love each other and they tell people that they did it because of love for each other.
Most of these couples didn’t go into marriage knowing these things would happen, knowing that one day their world would be turned upside down by sickness, and yes, they learned to depend on one another. But how is this a direct reflection of how we should depend on God in our suffering? The bible tells us that suffering is a part of this world. Romans 1:21 says, “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” So as we depend on our spouses in sickness and in health, can we also learn to trust God in sickness and in health as well?
A Model of Marriage
In February, a Texas newspaper wrote about a couple that had “endured multiple strokes, two amputations and countless dialysis treatments.”
Anna, 60, and Ralph, 59, have been married for 36 years. Ralph is a double amputee and stroke survivor who needs dialysis three days a week. Anna wakes up at 4:30 a.m. on those days to drive him to those sessions.
"That is the kind of human being she is, a devoted person," he said. "I couldn't have asked for a better wife."
And the secret to their lasting marriage throughout the sickness?
"Before you love your spouse, you have to love God," Ralph said.
Anna and Ralph’s story is a reminder that God has to come first. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
We know that in marriage we have to sacrifice daily for our spouses, and especially when one of us is sick. So how do we do that in our relationship with God? Are we sacrificing ourselves daily for God? He has. The gospel tells us that he gave the ultimate sacrifice in the form of his son, and he continually is giving to us.
Our part is that we have to put God first. In sickness and in health, in times of hurt and healing, we have to remember to trust God. Psalm 107:9 says, “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
When we’re stricken down with sickness are we more concerned with figuring out a way out or praying to God in the middle of that pain? We have to train ourselves to have an automatic response to turn and trust God.
When we are sick, especially with a chronic illness or a major disease, we have to depend on our spouses. In January, Today.com published a story about a Virginia couple named Cindy and Scott Chaflan. Cindy, 45, has a disorder called polycystic kidney disease, which causes cysts to grow inside the kidneys. She needed a transplant.
Scott stepped in.
“It’s such a huge thing to ask somebody — your life partner, the father of your children,” Cindy said. “What if something goes wrong? It’s hard enough to go through a transplant with someone you don’t know. It’s even harder to accept that kind of a gift from someone you love.”
The transplant was a success and took place the day before the couple’s 20th anniversary.
If you’ve ever been impaired with a sickness that forces you to depend on your spouse, then you know the extent of Scott’s decision. We need to remember that God gave his son to us to save us from our sin. That sacrifice was a success too.
That means you can depend on God, just as Cindy depended on Scott in a critical time. Isaiah 41:13 says, For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
If you’re physically hurting because of some sickness, know that you can depend on God. Know that you can take his hand right now. Know that it’s OK to depend on him. He is stronger than any medication and smarter than any doctor. He is bigger than any illness. He is the greatest physician.
You might not get an overnight fix for your sickness, but you will get the strength to go on from the almighty God, and there is no greater power than that.
Make a Choice
We chose to love our spouses. We chose to say “I do.” We choose to care for them when they’re sick. Now you have to choose whether you’ll take this opportunity of hurt and pain and sickness to also trust God. You will either take this time to let it bring you nearer to knowing God or allow it to pull you away from knowing God.
If you want to, you can cry out to him in pain. You can cry out to him in anger. You can cry out to him in frustration. If you’re hurting and don’t understand why you haven’t been healed, you can go to him on your knees. Psalm 16:7-8 says, “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
Whatever your circumstances are, let them be a challenge to you to trust in God. The couples in the stories above could have given up on each other. They could have allowed the weight of the sickness to bury their bond, but they let it strengthen it. In the same way, choose to let your hurt become a way to come closer to God.