When marriages fail, it’s not because someone in the marriage wants it to fail. No one stands at the altar during a wedding ceremony and thinks, “I sure hope this ends in divorce.” We all want to succeed at marriage.
But not everyone has been taught how to do it. We don’t have the skills.
That’s what happened with Karen and me. I was 19 when we got married. We had no idea what we were doing, and our relationship had serious problems. Thankfully, God approached our failures with compassion and love rather than anger. Slowly, He healed our marriage.
One of my favorite stories about marriage in the Bible is in John 4, when Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. There are so many important elements to this story.
This woman was divorced five times and currently living with another man. She was living outside the Jewish law. More than that, Jews weren’t supposed to speak to Samaritans and men were not supposed to speak to women.
She had three strikes against her—each of those things should have made her an outcast to an observant Jew—but Jesus approached her anyway. He treated her like a person. He showed interest in her life. He showed love.
1⃣ The first thing this story shows is that Jesus wants to help us. He promised Living Water to the woman, and He wants to bring life to our struggling marriages as well. Compassion is in His nature. He didn’t reject her and He won’t reject you either—even if your marriage is on the brink of divorce.
2⃣ The second thing this story illustrates is that He loves us too much to leave us where we are. God loves us unconditionally, but He also wants to fix us. He wants to help. That’s why Jesus told the woman she had a spiritual problem. She was trying to quench her thirsty soul through relationships with a series of men.
He told her she had been drinking from the wrong well, and what she really needed was Living Water. That’s one thing He made clear to Karen and me in our marriage, too.
I depended too much on Karen. She depended too much on me. Our marriage was dysfunctional because we both should have been depending on Jesus.
3⃣ That leads to the third thing this story shows us: The most important issue in marriage is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Your relationship with Jesus impacts your marriage and your life more profoundly than anything else.
Why? Because each of us goes through life trying to meet our basic needs for acceptance, identity, security, and purpose. Either we try to get those needs met by a person—in which case that person will always let us down—or we rely upon God to meet those needs.
Only God can fill that void in our lives. Money won’t meet our basic needs. Work or success won’t meet them. Pleasure won’t meet them. And the “perfect” husband or wife will not meet them. Those will fail, but God’s love never fails.
So ask Him to bring Living Water into your marriage. Like the Samaritan woman, we’ve been drinking from the wrong well. We’ll only find fulfillment when we pursue Him above all else.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today