by Gloria Furman
The photo you see to the right was taken the day before we got engaged 11 years ago. There was a line that God had written into our story that we would have never anticipated back then…
Last night Dave and I met a couple for dinner at a restaurant. We couldn’t finish our meal so the server packaged the leftovers for us and put them in a bag.
Dave carried the takeaway bag halfway to the car and then he handed it to me. “It’s getting heavy; I can’t carry it anymore,” he said.
Anyone who saw this transaction take place might have thought one of many things. Things like: “Gee whiz, how much food did you guys take away?” or “What kind of man would tell his wife to carry the leftovers? He should gladly serve her.”
I remember one occasion years ago when I was packing our suitcases into our car outside of a hotel where we stayed on a road trip. I pushed the baby’s stroller with one hand and pulled the luggage cart behind me. I unlocked the car, opened the passenger door for Dave, clipped his seat belt, put the baby in her car seat, and proceeded to load the trunk with our belongings.
Three women seated on a bench next to the car gawked at us. They began to murmur among themselves. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it became apparent to me that they were talking about us.
One woman called out to me,
“Honey, your husband is no good! You deserve better! Who does he think he is, making you do all his work?”
I praise God that the passenger door was closed and Dave didn’t hear her taunting. The audacity of such a statement boiled my blood. But she was ignorant. We all make assumptions when we can’t see people’s scars—whether they’re bilateral 9-inch scars on someone’s arms or scars on a broken heart that is riddled with sin and the pain of living in a fallen world.
God gets the credit for giving me the grace I needed to not hurl insults back at her. I let her mocking go with a kind response and replied as I slid into the driver’s seat and started the car,
“He’s disabled, ma’am.”
For over five years now Dave has been struggling with a nerve disorder in both of his arms. The nerves in his arms misfire signals to his brain and tell his brain that his muscles are on fire. Dave has been in the hospital 17 times for surgeries and procedures to help his arms.
Even though Dave’s chronic pain is ever-present, physical therapy has greatly benefited him. He can carry a takeaway bag halfway to the car now! Praise God!
In all of our challenges and discouragements God has been faithful. But what if I believed the lie that woman was spouting? What if I agreed that my husband is “no good” and that I “deserve better” and that Dave had unfairly shrugged off his responsibilities onto me?
If I had had the time and if those women had displayed a willingness to listen, I would have sat down with them on the bench and shared with them a few things.
I would have told them that the worth of a man does not depend on his physical abilities to serve. A man’s worth is established in his bearing the very image of God who created him. A disabled man is not less of a man just because he can’t use his arms to lift heavy things.
I would have explained how Dave’s primary work in our family is to lead us spiritually, and he does a mighty fine job at that! What a man! I would have shared with tears how God is the one who gave me the physical work of caring for Dave and our family and how it is so stinking hard sometimes but God is good, he is faithful, and he provides. In our heartbreak over surgeries and medicines that didn’t provide ultimate physical relief, God has been faithful.
I would have explained how we didn’t write this struggle into our story; God did. And we didn’t deserve for God to write his grace into our story, but he did. I would have told them how I’m eternally grateful that because of the gospel, God gives me what Christ deserves instead of what I deserve.
God’s faithfulness to his name is the bedrock of our faith. This is the same foundation of truth for every Christian marriage, and the way he writes his story of grace over the lives of his children looks different for everyone.
That’s why I want to tell you about Ian and Larissa’s story, too…
The remarkable marriage of Ian and Larissa Murphy
Today on the Desiring God blog, John Piper announced a 9-minute film that captures the remarkable marriage of Ian and Larissa Murphy. While they were dating, Ian was involved in a car accident and experienced a traumatic brain injury. He narrowly survived and now lives with life-altering disabilities. But those disabilities did not prevent their marriage.
I want you to encourage you to watch this video about their story not because their story is the same as mine and Dave’s—in fact, it is far from it. Our story is unique to us, Ian and Larissa’s story is unique to them, just like your story is unique to you.
But the God who created, sustained, and gives grace to these precious people and their marriage is the same.
The God who demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners he sent his Son to die for us has written his story of grace across your life, too.
We’re all inspired by miraculous stories like Ian and Larissa’s marriage but sometimes we struggle to see the miraculous story of grace that God has written over our own marriages. But as followers of Christ we have the same Holy Spirit indwelling us to assure us of God’s presence, the same power of Christ is at work in us making us holy, and the same loving Father has ordained all things in our lives to work together for our good and for God’s glory.
Ian and Larissa, me and Dave, and anyone else whose treasure is the person and work of Jesus Christ—are ordinary people saved by an extraordinary Savior and whose marriages are sustained by his miraculous grace.
Pastor John writes in the introduction to the video,
“I tremble with the glad responsibility of introducing you to Ian and Larissa Murphy in this video. Tremble, because it is their story and so personal. So delicate. So easily abused. So unfinished. Glad, because Christ is exalted over all things.”
Please go over to the Desiring God blog to watch this breathtaking film about Ian and Larissa Murphy, a couple of sinners who are saved by grace and rely on the power of Christ to honor God in their marriage.
- Download a free pdf of This Momentary Marriage by John Piper, the book featured in the video, OR
- Purchase This Momentary Marriage on Amazon (hardcover, paperback, Kindle or audio CD) or Book Depository (free delivery worldwide – hardcover, paperback, or audio CD)
- Other books on marriage that we highly recommend are:
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria (@gloriafurman) is mostly from Texas. In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three fun kiddos and Gloria enjoys serving the ladies in her community as a doula. Gloria is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway 2013).