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Sermon 4-19-09
Genesis 2:22-25 - Difficulties

Audio Sermon

Difficulties

...The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:22-25)

An interesting aspect of today’s culture is the lack of commitment. Before, the minister who officiated at a wedding ceremony would convey the idea, understood by everyone, that marriage would be “Until death do you part.” That’s changed. Now marriages occur with little to no pre-marital counseling and in their mind is the expectation: “Until difficulties do we part; and then we split up.” What a difference. It’s something that will be felt deeply by their children and step children who grow up not understanding the hope and security that is the promise of a one man, one woman marriage. There is something whole within the child whose natural parents stay together that is broken when the parents divorce.  This is not a mere formula for behavior though, for abuse can make separation become necessary.

But historically there was a relative certainty in marriage that, even though everybody knew that marriages had problems, it was a lifetime commitment. When the husband promised “to love and cherish her, to honor and sustain her, in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in the bad that may darken your days, in the good that lights your ways, and to be true to her in all things until death alone shall part you” – it really meant something.

Now the groom’s words might be, “To love her as long as she’s healthy, wealthy and things are good, or until someone better comes along.” We’ve observed a lesser known effect of the rampant rise of breast cancer among women – he leaves. She’s diagnosed, the doctor’s suggested treatments are discussed, the initial surgery is performed and chemotherapy begins. She can’t keep her job because of nausea and other problems, and in the midst of all this, the “man” leaves! She’s alone with the children, she has house payments she can't pay and they’re repossessing her car! Times have changed and so has the sanctity of marriage.

When difficulties come, the temptation is to leave, but that’s not the way life is meant to be. In the various cultures around the world, most respond to frustration and disappointment by blaming someone else. Many also blame God, while avoiding any hint of blame personally whenever possible. And they leave the marriage if they don’t like it.

A problem is that we think the difficulties in life are about us to the extent that life is no longer worth living if we aren't "happy." We feel that it’s essential to avoid any pain, any difficulty. Now don’t get me wrong – to be joyful, to be happy, to have what we need is a good thing – it’s important to live well if we can. But there is much in life that is greater than our personal needs. It’s not just about you. It’s also about the person, the spouse, child, relative or friend that God has entrusted to your care.

The Lord is doing an amazing good work in relation to each one of us, but our cooperation is needed. The life offered to us in Christ is somewhat like marriage and it is also similar to buying a house. To marry brings both blessings and difficulties because it will soon be found that the two have differing values, hopes, likes and dreams. But it is a blessing because you are given the opportunity to love someone who is not just like you. When you buy a house, you’ll notice that you are offered a contract. The seller must sign it, but you must sign it also. God is the Seller in your transaction and you are the buyer. You “sign” by placing your faith in His Son, who has created new life and a place in eternity for you.

Marriage is meant to be a place of safety, comfort and love. To become “one,” each of you will give up some of your sovereignty out of love for the other. They may like a kind of television show you don't care for. They may want to live in one place and you may want to live someplace else. They might want to travel and you may be more comfortable staying home. They may not understand it when you express love in a manner that is familiar to you, but new to them. If you give chocolates, they may prefer flowers and unexpectedly not be pleased with something that looks more like excess calories than an expression of love.

As stated, valid premarital counseling is becoming less prevalent, and we should note that divorce is filling this world. You might feel that the increasingly common practice of living together before marriage would solve the problem. After all, you may think, surely the two will get to know each other sufficiently in order to make a wise choice resulting in a lasting marriage! But it isn’t true. Actually, each of them sent the subliminal message to the other that they are capable of entering a sexual relationship without benefit of marriage, which lessens the ability of both to trust the other.

Decades ago, I met a person who was shocked and angry at marriage, and she was quite vocal about her feelings. As she told the story loudly and with anger to her co-workers, she had lived with a man for many years and they were very happy. Then they married and the fights began. They argued about everything and it looked like the marriage was over. Actually it was the courtship that was over and it’s like buying the house mentioned earlier. Once the house is yours, you move into it and then gradually discover flaws that weren’t apparent during the “courtship” period when you were thinking about buying it. The floorboards creak, which you didn’t hear before; and it wasn’t mentioned that the neighbor next door has a large dog who barks angrily every time you make a move.

That woman from decades ago and her husband had put aside the masks which people wear during courtship. They got what they wanted and didn’t need to pretend anymore. Now their real identities were revealed, presenting difficulties for them both. Their conflicting likes and dislikes should have been prayerfully discovered during pre-marital counseling, but they thought they knew everything and didn’t think it was necessary.

Married couples everywhere need the “threefold cord” of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, verses that are included in many wedding ceremonies. One “cord” is the husband, another is the wife, and the third “cord” is the Lord Himself. Marriages begin to work when the Lord is included. They fail when He is left out. Note we are talking about the Lord Himself, not merely religion. You each need to have faith in HIM, growing in His love. If you do, the forces that compete to tear you apart will lessen in power over you. The husband will “be joined to (his) wife” in a better way, and they will find the wonder of becoming “one flesh” in the love of God. In our Lord, the mistakes of the past can be forgiven and you will not be “ashamed” (Genesis 2:22-25).

Father, we give our hearts, lives and marriage to You. We confess that we have been selfish. Please forgive us and heal our marriage, our lives, and those we love. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
www.FridayStudy.org
Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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