Derek and Amber began their marriage so full of promise. They were excited to move to a new city for Derek’s new job. They bought a house and enjoyed that first year of marriage with all its surprises. But then Derek’s job took him out of town more and more. He would often leave on Sunday afternoon and come back late Friday. So Amber had to go through the week alone in a new city with few friends. She began to talk with this guy at work who was really kind. She appreciated his attention especially on those days when Derek couldn’t call home. Eventually their relationship grew into more than work. They got more and more involved until she ended sleeping at his place on some nights. When Derek came home on weekends, he sensed something different but he couldn’t figure out what.
Levi and Erin had already been married 5 years when their first child came along. They were so excited to bring this little one into their lives. Baby Jenna turned their world upside down. She was followed in rapid succession by a brother, sister and another brother. Levi and Erin suddenly found themselves with 4 children 6 and under. It was so busy. Erin often flopped into bed at 9 PM exhausted from a regular day of parenting. Levi loved her. But as the busyness continued, they seldom had time for each other. He would often watch TV or work until 11 or 12 at night. Though their house was filled with little ones and life, he was sometimes lonely. So he sought comfort in his loneliness by going to certain websites. He knew how to cover his tracks digitally so that Erin would never know. He felt guilty after and resolved to stop. But whenever he was tired or they’d had a fight he ran to this outlet for relief. He was sure it didn’t do much harm and he would stop once they had more time for each other.
Dan and Diana had been through 20 years of marriage. They raised their 3 children well and now all were gone or in college. When they sat alone at the supper table, they realized how far they had drifted from one another. They had stayed together for their kid’s sake. But now they were strangers. They mutually decided to divorce. It was agreeable and respectful. They didn’t fight and tried to minimize their kid’s pain. Within a year it was done. They went their separate ways.
Ron and Rhonda had been through difficult marriages. Both had been divorced with children. They looked after their kids and fulfilled all those responsibilities convinced they would never marry again. But one New Year’s Eve each went to the home of a mutual friend for a party. They hit it off and found new life and joy. Soon they planned their wedding. They married in the Spring. Ron and Rhonda were both Christians. They thought it best to find a new church to worship in together. But when they arrived at this church and people found out they had been divorced and remarried, they shunned them. Ron and Rhonda came home confused wondering what they should do.
Sam and Shauna have been married 16 years. They have two children and a nice home. From the outside it looks like they’re just a regular family. But inside their home they struggle mightily in their marriage. Their fights have become more heated recently. Neither has sought refuge in someone else’s arms or some website. But when they attended the wedding of their niece last summer, they sat in the ceremony and marveled at the joy the bride and groom had for each other. They wondered where that had gone and if they could ever see it again.
And lastly there’s Lena. She has persevered in a difficult marriage for 20 years now. Her husband drinks a lot. He doesn’t respect her or make much time for her. They attend church but behind closed doors, they struggle mightily. She knows God’s design for marriage. She hears of other wives who experience fulfillment and affirmation in their marriages. She wants to work on things and make them better. But he will have none of it. He sees no problem and if she keeps talking about it, he’ll leave her.
All are ordinary people who started out with great hopes on their wedding days. Yet today, they live with the difficult realties in their lives. Some of you have lived these stories. You’ve been or you are one of these couples. Or you’re been a child in one of these marriages. Or you know someone who is going through something like this.
The question that faces you today is “where do you go from here?” Well I’m here to tell you today that Jesus has teaching that brings clarity and life that brings hope for people in any of these situations.