Ruth 4:11 – 12 “Then the elders and all those at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
This coming June, Mark and I will have been married for seventeen years. Whew! That’s a long time. We’ve both grown as individuals, as a couple, as a family. Together we have faced wonderful, joyous times. Together we’ve faced some pretty rotten times, as well. We have loved each other. At times, we have not liked each other. We have laughed, cried, fought, made up . . . we’ve been through all the highs and lows that every married couple experiences. And I’m so glad I have my wonderful, strong, handsome Mark.
I’ve seen so many couples hit low points in their marriages, and decide to call it quits. But every roller coaster ride has its low spots! If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be any high spots, and the ride would be a dull one. I wish, more than anything, I could convince so many of these couples to just hang in there! Keep working, keep pushing for success, keep loving even when you’re not liking. Because, at the end of the day or the end of our lives, we will be glad to have had someone to share it all with.
I think our society makes it far too easy to get out of the marriage commitment. Some people, well-meaning people, even secretly root for the demise of our marriages. “He just doesn’t treat you right,” says one friend. “She has really turned into a shrew,” says another pal. The message is clear. Just throw in the towel, and start over with somebody new. You can do better.
But here, the elders of Bethlehem rallied round this new couple. They gave their best wishes, and their highest expectations. They gave their blessings. They expected nothing less than a successful union.
First, they blessed Ruth. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. Then, they blessed Boaz. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Finally, they blessed this family for all their future generations. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.
Friends, we need to protect the sacred union of marriage. Every marriage. We need to pray for, build up, and encourage our friends and loved ones to stay together, to make it work. While there are some instances where divorce is permitted, it should never be desired. And it should certainly never be encouraged.
Of course, marriage is really a symbol of our relationships to Christ. He loves us perfectly. He sacrificed everything for us. And, though we give Him every reason to give up, to throw in the towel on us, He never does. He stays there, steady as a rock, always loving, always forgiving, always protecting, always remaining faithful and loyal. He takes care of us even when we don’t deserve it. He provides for us even when we forget to say thank you. He is always patient, always kind, always compassionate, always gentle. He will never, ever leave us or forsake us. He will never fail us.
Though I will never love as beautifully or as perfectly as Christ, I will try. For I know the rewards of this kind of steady, rock-solid love are beyond measure.
(I love you, Mark!)
Dear Father, Thank you for the union of marriage. Please help me, and our society at large, to see the beauty and importance of this sacred institution.