Among the many deep mysteries God has revealed in his word is the mystery of marriage and how the marriage covenant models the covenant between Christ and his church.
In Ephesians 5, Paul writes, “Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
Michelle and I recently celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. We actually started our “courtship” in middle school, some ten years before marriage. Over the years, we have made mistakes, learned lessons, and grown in our understanding of the divine mystery of marriage. I have also come to see God’s goodness in his concern that Adam not be alone. And I have, by God’s grace, begun to appreciate the opportunity that my marriage gives me to model the sacrificial and selfless love of Christ for his church. I confess I haven’t taken full advantage of that opportunity but it is my growing desire.
A couple of weeks ago, Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer, the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. Since current studies indicate that 4 in 10 Americans will have some type of cancer during their lifetime, we know we are facing a battle that has become all too common in our family and in nearly every household across the country. But common doesn’t mean easy, especially when it’s cancer.
As we reluctantly begin this journey, God has set two things in front of me. First, God led me to Psalm 112 where the Psalmist says the man who fears the Lord “is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid” (vv7-8). We fear the Lord and refuse to be afraid of cancer. Second, my job as a husband has not changed. Obeying Ephesians 5, I am to hold fast to my wife, nourishing and cherishing her, loving her as I love myself, for the two are one flesh.
Something more has also become clear. God has given us a support group spanning the state and nation. The prayers and encouragement of our Southern Baptist family in Kentucky and beyond humble us. We are no more deserving of those prayers than anyone else but, should the Lord bring Michelle to mind, know I am grateful for every petition before his throne.