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Some modern vows delete it, but most who wear wedding bands promised it "in the presence of these witnesses." You know the part ... "in sickness and in health." Few think of the likelihood of experiencing sickness, physical or emotional, in married life. It's inevitable, though, that infirmity will strike during life together and may range from stomach flu to kidney stones to long term or terminal illness to depression and anxiety. It's hard to live out our vows "in sickness and in health."
I remember feeling like it was going to be no problem for me when Jeff was "my patient" for the first time. First time taking care of a sick man ... mercy! One would think that Plague had resurfaced. I was Florence Nightengale reincarnated. I admit that I did laugh when he asked for comic books in a voice that made me wonder if he would live long enough to read them ... but I complied!
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of listening to an elderly lady, battling with cancer, talk about what an amazing man her husband of nearly 48 years is. With the smile of a girl in love, she said that he has cared for her physical and emotional needs with tenderness and attention, though most would only know him as a rather gruff guy with a bold tongue. After nearly half a century, she is more smitten than ever for her husband who has been faithful "in sickness and in health."
In all of our time spent with couples, we hear many stories about the challenges that come with weakness, and we can't spend life together without seeing "the sick" in our spouse. This often comes in the form of emotional weakness, as the "stronger" spouse is called on to hold up the one in need. Thankfully, we don't often hit bottom at the same time, allowing one to support the other. Sometimes the husband is the strong shoulder for his wife, and sometimes the wife is the strong spirit for her husband. We serve and love one another "in sickness and in health." Love like that is described in 1 Corinthians 13 as love that perseveres and doesn't fail. Love like that is only possible through God's enablement and His Holy Spirit in us. In our own flesh, our shallow love wears out.
I listened as a young wife carefully shared the burdens of marriage that arose shortly after the wedding day, both physical and emotional. The heaviness on her was obvious. She needed to know that other sisters in Christ would stand with her as she struggles to be faithful, to work hard, and to persevere in her compassion and commitment to her husband. "In sickness and in health" is not always easy.
How about you? Has wedded bliss included some sickness? Some health? Have you watched another couple work out their love when it was hard? Did you have to go out for comic books? :) There's no doubt that much of married life happens in hard places, but God promises us His strength to "love it out" ... in sickness or in health.
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
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