So my back is hurting. Yet again…
The problem is chronic, only slightly alleviated by corrective surgery years ago, while my on-again/off-again relationship with my chiropractor usually gets me back to feeling somewhat normal fairly quickly, but comes with a cautionary lecture that I’m just not prepared to receive again.
This problem as it presents itself today is further complicated by the fact that I am just two months into a new job, so taking sick time – while generously permissible by my new employer – simply doesn’t look good, and I’m also on a new health insurance plan for the first time in nearly 20 years, so a simple trip to the chiropractor requires special permission and a quite bit more out-of-pocket.
So I’m spending lots of time on an ice pack today and downing Advil by the handful to simply survive the pain on a moment by moment basis. I’m also wearing a girdle-like contraption that is essentially a back brace, and while it is easy to disguise it under a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and bulky sweatshirt, I’m not convinced that I can conceal this thing under my work clothes.
Oh the problems of a professional worker with a bad back!
No doubt I’ll survive this one, and even though I’m uncertain if treatment will happen this time around, I’m painfully aware of what I need to do and I know my limitations. I have to listen to my body.
One thing I’m not certain will survive is the marriage of my friend, my brother in Christ.
For many months – mostly in parallel to my recent quest to secure new employment – my friend has been sharing that things were not well in his union to his bride. He asked for prayers and poured out his heart to me both over the phone and via text. We prayed together and both of us wept over the hurt and anguish that his marriage was experiencing. It has been both painful and difficult to endure for me personally, and not just because this is my good friend and brother in the Lord who is going through it. Painful, because it forces me to relive my own experience with a failed marriage, and certainly difficult because there is absolutely nothing that I can do to help.
Except of course to listen, pray and be available.
In the meantime life goes on, almost cruelly, as the minutes, hours and days fly by as a family is being torn apart. This is a believing family whose marriage and child-rearing is as closely tuned-in to God’s holy Word as any I’ve ever witnessed. So what went wrong? Is the marriage salvageable, or to the point of no return?
I don’t know, and I don’t know.
The simple truth is that marriages are in fact meant to last forever no matter what the commercials and talk shows scream at us, but far too many end in divorce – even Christian marriages. It has long been assumed that about half of all American marriages end in divorce and that the church is not immune from that damning statistic. Thankfully, a recent eight-year study conducted by a Harvard-trained researcher revealed that our country’s overall divorce rate is closer to 30 percent than 50, and it drops down to 15-20 percent for church-going believers. That is certainly good news because it’s lower than half in terms of failure rate, and especially encouraging to believers, who cling to their faith in Christ more than statistics, but it’s nice to know that maybe – just maybe – the body of Christ is taking its vows a bit more seriously than those who couldn’t care less that God sees marriage as a lifetime union, a blessing and a treasure.
So why then is my believing friend about to find his marriage on the losing end of the statistics? Was it a lack of faith or an inability to follow God’s plan and design for their vows, or something else that has them filing paperwork?
The short answer: Again, I don’t really know.
I do know that their situation is extremely dynamic and complicated. I do know that husband and wife are both hurting tremendously.
If my back is causing pain for me in the physical I am painfully aware that their situation is causing them anguish mentally, physically and spiritually, that their hearts are collectively breaking, and there is no ice pack big enough to bring them relief. And just as I have issues with circumstances, expenses, etc. that will keep me from seeing the chiropractor and securing the treatment that I so desperately need, my friend and his bride are facing obstacles that are too private to disclose. Emotional hurdles possibly too high to clear. And now instead of the love, honor, respect and mutual nourishing that comes with a beautiful union, there is anger, tears and lawyer bills.
I believe in God and I believe that God truly brought my friend and his wife together. He blessed them with a beautiful, healthy child. I know that He hears my prayers for miraculous reconciliation and He desires that my friend’s marriage would endure. But that’s where our sinful nature and free will collide with His plans. He will not be thwarted, but therein lies the wonderful mystery of God’s creation: Can we interfere or alter His plans? Can we delay blessing? It sure seems like it some times, but then again this is the God of the universe we are talking about here! The Creator of all things. How can the created possibly mess with the plans of the Creator?
In the end I have far more questions than answers on this subject, and I’m certainly no where closer to solving the issue of my friend’s marriage woes.
So this evening, as I swallow a few more Advil and endure another round of ice therapy, I mourn that a loving and beautiful marriage is on life support and is close to death. But before I sign-off for the night I’ll offer another prayer to the One who hears all and has previously shown that He can bring the dead to life.
I’m asking for another of Your miracles Father. My friend desperately needs it, and he needs it now.