We live in a world that says love is primarily an emotion or feeling. That the central purpose of love is to provide an individual with a sense of belonging, significance, empowerment and completion...and when any of these feelings are no longer achieved in the relationship, then the individual has every right to walk away.
We are a self-seeking people, far too easily drawn away by our own selfish desires. When marriage doesn't turn out to be exactly what we expected it should be, or when we don't feel loved, cherished, respected or honored in the way we are convinced we deserve, then how quickly do we begin to demand something better...or someone better than our husband or our wife?
In the clearest depiction that I've ever seen of a (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) kind of love, Larissa's choice to stay with Ian says, "I will not insist on my own way" and "I will bear all things, hope all things and endure all things" to love you in a way glorifies God; finding my complete satisfaction in him...and not a Cinderella marriage with a fairy tale ending.
Paul tells us exactly what true love looks like when he says:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
These words are not self-seeking but are instead, gospel-centered. They echo the kind of love Christ has for us. We are broken sinners, who deserve justice. God does not owe us anything, yet at the expense of his own life, Christ stepped down from his rightful thrown of glory and surrendered his majesty in order to love his people and fulfill his promise and covenant. He took upon himself the punishment that we deserved and in doing so he loved us back into fellowship with God.
So, the next time your marriage isn't going the way you expect it to go...the next time you feel like you're being treated unfairly...or the next time you catch yourself questioning if it's time to throw in the towel...take a moment to remember Larissa's story. Think about her choice to honor God by staying committed to Ian, while embracing great personal sacrifices and surrendering the option of a normal marriage and typical relationship. This is exactly how we are called to love our our spouses, and in doing so we can have full assurance that we are also bring glory to God by echoing the gospel for the whole world to see, in and through our relationship.