LOVE SUFFERS LONG
No greater love has a man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends. John 15:13 NASB
Love suffers long! 1 Cor. 13:4 MEV
One of the great secrets to my marriage and my fathering is this divine truth. Real love is long-suffering. Real love pays the price to keep loving, to keep pushing through the pain, the hurts, the disappointments, and the difficult realities that marriage and parenting inevitably bring. Real love is the willingness to suffer for the person you love as a result of the painful, or difficult things their personal deficiencies, their sinful flesh, their quirks, or their personal, unexpected challenges bring into your life.
Marriage always, absolutely always brings some difficult surprises. There are things about your spouse that you did not know when you married them. They are a complex human being, who has been shaped by life experiences, both good ones and bad ones, their upbringing, their personality, their temperament, their unique gifts, their own life decisions, their hurts, and their habits.
The reality of marriage is you only see a few of these at the beginning of your relationship. Usually, those features in them that strongly attracted you to them. Suddenly you are married, and over time you realize, they are a whole package of things, many of which you did not realize are a part of their makeup. This in fact can take decades to fully reveal itself. There are also going to be difficult things that happen to them, that neither of you would have ever expected or wished for. Might be a car accident, or difficult health issues, or emotional or mental struggles that begin to surface, or the delayed emotional impact of life traumas.
The same is true of children. They are gifted to us, and we adore them as little babies in our arms. They are cute, cuddly, soft, pretty angelic for a short time. As they begin to grow, we realize they take a tremendous amount of sacrificial love, a love that involves a cost, a price to pay, and it usually involves some suffering on our part. My love has suffered long in many different ways for my children, as I’ve walked through, and continue to walk through the challenges, hardships, obstacles, and very difficult surprises and trials that have come along in their lives.
I share all of this from a unique vantage point as I am much older than most of you reading this. Having been married for almost 43 years, a father for 41 years, I can tell you with absolute certainty, it is worth every price I’ve paid, and continue to pay.
Staying married to the same woman, paying the price to love her no matter what it cost me at the time, has paid off tremendously. There were times I thought it would break me. There were times I did not want to be long-suffering any longer. But how I thank God he helped me, He gave me the grace, and the insight to understand the price I was paying to love her would bring a rich harvest over time if I would just keep loving her and continue to be long-suffering. Kathy, I know, would say the same thing about me. I know she has paid a great cost to keep loving me all of these years. Her love has been very long-suffering towards me.
I am not exaggerating when I say, if I gave you all the nitty, gritty details of all we have been through, you would have thought we would have given up so many times and just quit. You might even wonder how we survived it all. I am so thankful to God, I praise His holy name for all He has done in my marriage and my children because I chose to be long-suffering in love.
When I ponder all that God has loved me through, when I consider the price he has paid to love me, when I remember and reflect on all of my own idiosyncrasies, my sinful nature, my quirks, my shortcomings that even today at 65 I still struggle with, I marvel at how long-suffering in love God has been with me. It inspires me, convicts me, and strengthens my heart to do the same with my wife and my children.
Remembering daily what Christ suffered for me on that cross at Calvary because of his love, has an incredibly powerful impact on my attitude and perspective. He who is forgiven much loves much!
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling