For years, years, I’ve publicly bemoaned the dismal divorce rate in America. Fifty percent of marriage end in divorce! And the numbers are no better for calling themselves Christ-followers! Like all that pew sitting and kneel bending isn’t making any difference.
We’re caught in this endless cycle of hopelessness when it comes to our most sacred of unions. If we can’t make it work at home, how do we expect to start mending brokenness outside our front doors?
But those stats, they’re not true. They’re flat-out wrong and we’re all just walking around parroting the same un-truth and actually contributing to the problem.
How many people have given up on their marriage because they figured they’re part of the unlucky half?
How many people have walked away rather than keep fighting because they couldn’t see how today’s pain could ever change into tomorrow’s joy?
Did you know….
Of first time marriages, 72% stay together. The remaining 28% includes loss of a spouse by death so the divorce rate is probably closer to 25%. Or lower, maybe even 20%.
For all marriages, the divorce rate is closer to 31 percent.
And in the church, the odds are even better, coming in at 25 to 50 percent lower for those who prioritize their faith versus those who don’t.
And if you think that there’s no way tomorrow or next year gets better than today, read this: two out of three unhappily married adults who avoided divorce were happily married in five years. Eight out of ten who rated their marriages as very unhappy but avoided divorce were happily married five years later.
What made the difference?
Hope that things could change. Hope that the pain would end. Hope that if other couples could make it, then so could they.
Hope that a present reality did not have to be the inevitable future.
I’m hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet, thinking that it’s not just our marriages that could use some hope. We could all use a reminding to hold on tight, to keep hoping when the current landscape seems uncertain and treacherous.
Because when the ballots get counted and the news is in and this whole crazy, angry, upside down and painful election gets put away in the books, we’re going to have to find a way to move forward.
To move forward with people we don’t agree with, in a climate that is putrid with hate spewed hot and words thrown hard.
To move forward knowing the days ahead may be full of more struggle and misunderstanding and injustice.
To move forward when you think the worst possible outcome has happened.
Yet as People of the Cross, it’s not the worst. The worst that this election and the next leader might bring will still not be the end of everything.
It will not change the fact that God is bigger. That God is more powerful and that God can and does work through both the sacred and the secular.
It will not change that Jesus took on humanity and made himself nothing and let himself get bleeding ripped and shredded and pinned up on that Cross out of love.
It will not change the truth that death has no sting and the horrors of today pale in comparison to the glory of the someday.
No election, no leader, no dictator or corrupt politician can ever, ever, take away the Hope of a future eternity.
If you’re wondering where to look Wednesday morning because you just can’t handle the headlines, follow the wisdom penned in a dank prison cell:
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
The world is always going to need people holding out Hope in the One that matters. Because when their leaders and their careers and their bank accounts and spouses fail them, they’re going to wonder if this is really as good as it gets.
And start looking to the people who still have Hope.
Imagine the difference to our collective consciousness if we say, “Most marriages last a lifetime,” rather than, “Half of marriages end in divorce.”
–Shanti Feldhahn, The Good News About Marriage.
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