Yesterday as The Story of Ian & Larissa went viral in some Facebook circles, I think a lot of us pondered the real purpose of our marriages. The couple was dating in college but after a car accident and brain injury, Ian was left severely handicapped. After some time, however, they decided to get married anyway, realizing that their marriage wasn’t simply about fulfilling all their dreams but honoring Christ.
How breathtakingly different their story is in the midst of a no-fault divorce culture in which people frequently walk away from one another citing “irreconcilable differences,” which is usually legal speak for “they weren’t satisfying my needs.” That’s because we tend to get married with one primary question in mind: ‘What can I get out of this deal? How does it benefit me, fit into my plans, my dreams, etc.?’ When marriage doesn’t meet our expectations, we usually either get angry (bitterness being the long-term form), we retreat, or we leave.
What an awesome picture of a Christ-like marriage, then, when a woman is willing to watch her dream of marriage die in order to cling to a supreme desire that Christ be honored through her self-sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:9). It’s a somber grace from God to the rest of us, a reminder of true marriage pointing us to Jesus, who laid down his life for his Bride (Ephesians 5:25).
So I’m tremblingly grateful for Ian and his bride, who have shown us what self-sacrifice and Christ-honoring union is about. And I’m grateful for my friends Davin and Lauren Henrickson, who have shown us this last year and these last few weeks what it is to love like Jesus—through cancer, through death, through grief, demonstrating before our very eyes that knowing Christ is better than life (Psalm 63:3).
I’m grateful for Davin’s faith in counting a long, slow death as gain because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord (Philippians 1:21; 3:8). And I’m grateful for Lauren, who not only watched her husband die, but who watched her dream of a long, fruitful life with him perish as well. Not by choice, of course, but by faith in God who raises the dead (Hebrews 11:19) and turns calamity into our joy (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20).
What is my marriage for, and yours? “The meaning of marriage is the display of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his people. This covenant-keeping love reached its climax in the death of Christ for his church, his bride” (This Momentary Marriage, 16).
The story of Davin and Lauren’s marriage is so particularly filled with the display of God’s glory because it displays even now this covenant-keeping principle of Christ, the death of one for the other. So thank you, Davin and Lauren, for showing us Christ in your marriage. In sadness, many tears, grief, and much darkness, I thank you for embracing the kind of suffering in your marriage that would magnify Jesus to the world, and to me. To Him be the glory forever and ever.