My husband read from the devotional we share together after our supper meal. Each day it brings us renewed encouragement.

“Now, there was a time when things definitely were better (roughly two chapters in Genesis), and understanding this, namely who we are as creatures after ‘the Fall,’ really gets to the heart of things. It’s not about how I might have been happier at some other time in my life, but rather about who I am and have been since my conception — namely a hurt, frightened, fallen being, who hides from God in my solutions to my heart” (The Mockingbird Devotional, pg. 197).

My husband’s voice droned onward, but I was stuck on that paragraph. It spoke profoundly to where I am right now. Most days I’m homebound. Alone, if I don’t guard my heart and my mind, I think dark thoughts. I consider my failures, my flaws, the chronic nature of my illness, the bad decisions I’ve made, and the inner workings of my heart and mind. The very fact that I get stuck in these bleak ruminations confirms that I am indeed a “a hurt, frightened, fallen being, who hides from God in my solutions to my heart.”

As my husband finished reading, I considered the kindness of God to us in our brokenness, and I pondered the healing gifts he has provided. One is the nearness of Christ in all circumstances. Another is our marriage. The Lord has used these most powerfully in my life to apply grace and healing. Sometimes he has used nature, at other times the joy of my work, and often the support of Christian community. We are each unique, and the Lord uses many things to comfort each one.

Marriage has the potential for great destruction or for great transformation and the healing of a lifetime. For us, because we met Jesus early and incorporated him into every corner of our lives together, starting when we were teens, what began as great destruction, over time instead brought great healing and transformation into our lives.

Both teenagers, my husband and I arrived at marriage selfish. Yet, over the past forty-two years, we’ve nursed one another through recovery from our childhood wounds, our broken places, and the challenges of standing together as adults.

My husband has shaped me, and I have shaped him. His words teach me, correct me, and make me right again. His commitment and acts of service heal, repair, and carry me along. He turns me toward Jesus when I’m buried in the dark considerations of my own heart. He helps me to praise when all seems bleak. He brings joy into my life.

I do the same for him. The healing is mutual.

A Christ-like marriage can be our support in a hard world as we grow in godliness, even when we’re provoked by the chafing together of two flawed and broken human beings living together. I rejoice in the gift God bestowed on me in spite of myself. I’m aware of God’s provision in giving me a man who has loved me as best he can, as he strives toward Christlike love.

By the grace of God, and only by the grace of God, this happened. Two hurt, frightened, fallen human beings — people who hide from God as we seek our own solutions to issues of our hearts — melded into one.

Yet still, no one is perfect, even in a good marriage, and so Jesus is primary. He is the rock foundation, for we are sinners overcoming brokenness, and one day death will touch us.

Jesus is primary. He is the rock foundation, for we are sinners overcoming brokenness, and one day death will touch us. Click To Tweet

Marriage provides a human picture of how Christ loves the church. The church is healed, repaired, and carried by Christ. Christ in us carries out this internal work as we learn to love unconditionally like Jesus and then extend that Christlike love to the other. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. The same is true in the body of Christ, within our churches and the close relationships we make there.

Christ in us carries out the internal work as we learn to love unconditionally like Jesus and then extend that Christlike love to others. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. Click To Tweet

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ 3This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:25-32 ESV).

The Lord uses community, his church, his creation, marriage, friendship, his provision, and himself to bring loving healing to us. We are all precious in God’s eyes, and he is our dearest source of comfort and love. Every human relationship has those moments when only the Lord can step in and be our support. Recently, a friend reminded me, “Trust in Him who will not leave you, whatsoever years may bring. If by earthly friends forsaken, still more closely to Him cling.” This is the stabilizing truth.

We are all precious in God's eyes. He is our dearest source of comfort and love. Every human relationship has those moments when only the Lord can step in and be our support. Click To Tweet

What has the Lord given you for growth and comfort that ended up being more than you ever expected?

How has he provided community and the best gift of himself in your darkest times?