What if you waited and waited for just the right person to marry? And just as you were about to lose hope of finding your soulmate, sure enough just the right person came along. After a few months of courting, you got engaged and then married the “love of your life”. You settled down in a quiet neighbourhood and both had good careers. You’re involved at a great church and have just been blessed with a beautiful baby boy. Wouldn’t that be great?
In sickness and in health
But what would you do if you found out that one of you had been diagnosed with a major debilitating disease? There would be years and years of treatment, but, for the most part, one of you would slowly lose the ability to walk, take care of yourself or even think clearly. Would you stay married to a person whose body and mind were slowly drifting away? Such is the plight of Daniel and his wife.
A few years after the baby was born, Daniel’s wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, better known as MS. This is a chronic and debilitating medical condition where the body’s central nervous system comes under attack.
Most cases can be treated with success where the patient learns to cope with the condition and can go on living a very succ-essful and satisfying life. But aggress-ive cases, such as Daniel’s wife, can bring about growing physical degeneration and even cause mental impairment.
Battling the odds
As Daniel and his wife came to grips with her diagnosis, they both became very concerned about the future. How bad would things get? How serious would the debilitation be? How fast would the disease get the upper hand? Would she still be able to work? Would there be enough resources to handle all the healthcare services? What about mortality? Raising the children? Their marriage?
Things did get worse with her condition. It wasn’t long before she was confined to a wheelchair and needed care with bathing and the use of the toilet.
But all the while Daniel remained with her and he did everything he could to care for his wife. His love for her is so amazing and enduring. And his patience seems to have no end.
As for Daniel’s wife, she is just overwhelmed by the love she has received from her faithful husband. He is her knight in shining armour.
As a pastor I have seen all sorts of marriages. I have seen many good ones and a lot of messed-up ones too over the years. But to me, Daniel and his wife exemplify the kind of love that the Bible teaches should be at the centre of all of our marriages.
In the Book of Ephesians the apostle Paul teaches about the kind of love that husbands should have for their wives. Husbands should love their wives in the same way that Christ has loved the church in that Christ laid down his life for the church on the cross.
Love is patient
Daniel has done a similar thing for his wife. He has laid down his life for her in a very Christlike and selfless way. He has exercised ongoing care and incredible patience in the face of great difficulty.
A few years ago their situation became even further complicated because of a wheelchair mishap that left Daniel’s wife with a broken leg. Because of her condition, this took several months to heal. But even that didn’t detour Daniel from doing all he could to provide everything she needed.
Over the past few years Daniel has even worked overtime at his job so that he could retire early. He would like to be at home with his wife to care for her around the clock.
The Scriptures inform us that “love is patient”. And of course we want to ask, “how patient?”. For Daniel the answ-er is, “love is as patient as it needs to be”.
Whenever I see Daniel and his bride I am always left with an abiding hope for this world. It is very comforting to know that there is still a place in it where real, genuine and abiding love in marriage exists no matter what the cost.
Their struggle together in life as a couple isn’t without its difficulties but their love for each other is not just “great”. Their love for each other is relentless, tireless and beautiful. What would you do?
– Reverend Bradley S. Belcher is the senior pastor with the International Baptist Church of Budapest, www.ibcbudapest.org. Should you have a question or comment regarding this column, email email@example.com.