Mature Christians recognize and appreciate the sweet side of suffering. Teresa of Avila wrote, “Lord, how you afflict your lovers! But everything is small in comparison to what you give them afterward.” John Climacus experienced the same thing centuries before. He wrote, “If individuals resolutely submit to the carrying of the cross, if they decidedly want to find and endure a trial in all things for God, they will discover in all of them great relief and sweetness.”
This teaching mirrors Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:17: “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
Because we have hope for eternity, we do not become nearsighted, demanding short-term ease that would short-circuit long-term gain. We should periodically ask ourselves, “Am I living for God’s kingdom and service, or for my own comfort and reputation?”
A heavyweight boxing champion who dodges all serious contenders to consistently fight marshmallows gets derided and ridiculed – and rightly so. Christians who dodge all serious struggle and consciously seek to put themselves in the easiest situations and relationships do the same thing. They are coasting, and eventually this coasting will define them and, even worse, shape them.
If young engaged couples need to hear one thing, it’s that a good marriage is not something you find; it’s something you work for. It takes struggle. You must crucify your selfishness. You must at times confront, at other times confess, and always be willing to forgive.
It helps when we view our struggles in light of what they provide spiritually rather than what they take from us emotionally. If I’m in my marriage for emotional stability, I probably won’t last long. But if I think it can reap spiritual benefits, I’ll have plenty of reason to not just be married but act married.
Don’t run from the struggles of marriage. Through them you will reflect more of the spirit of Jesus Christ. And thank God that he has placed you in a situation where your spirit can be perfected.