Share this story

 | By Steve and Bridget Patton

Trusting God and each other in adversity

When life doesn’t go according to plan, how can married couples be strong together in the face of adversity?

At their wedding, a man and woman promise to love one another “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.” The surface meaning is that they will stick together despite whatever problems they encounter. The deeper meaning is that those very problems can serve as occasions to draw them closer to one another and to God. An analogy of this hidden value of adversity can be seen in other spheres of life.

To maintain physical strength we need regular and even somewhat uncomfortable resistance exercise. The same goes for relationships with difficult people. Kind people build and maintain kindness not by avoiding difficult people but by striving, to whatever extent they reasonably can, to lovingly engage with them.

So even if it is good for a married couple to pray for health and happiness, they should also pray that they will lovingly and patiently accept whatever adversities God might allow them to suffer.

A couple can prayerfully consider every good thing they have – including their health, abilities and freedoms – as gifts entrusted to them, on loan, from God. It is important to offer them as gifts back to the Lord, and have hearts and hands open to receive the strength from God to deal with life’s unexpected suffering.

A couple can expect their lifelong assortment of sufferings to be tailor-made just for them. The possibilities can range across a spectrum of intensity – e.g., from a momentary annoyance, to a temporary disruption, to a thorough and permanent ruination. We just don’t know.

We know only this: “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength.” (1Cor 10:13) He wants us to reach out to him for help, to console one another and to prayerfully unite our sufferings with his own.

Throughout our marriage we should trust that everything God sends our way – the bad as well as the good – he sends to somehow help us better love him and each other. It’s all in our disposition. A Chinese proverb about adversity states it well: the same scorching sun that hardens the ball of clay, softens the ball of wax.

Steve and Bridget Patton hold master’s degrees in theology and counseling and serve as family life ministers in the Diocese of Sacramento.

¡Lee este artículo en español! (Spanish Language Version)