In sickness and in health
When people vow before God and the congregation to be together in sickness and in health, do they really stand by that vow? I know of marriages that have crumbled because one spouse became sick. Imagine your husband becoming suddenly ill which takes away his ability to perform his marital duty in bed. Would you stand by him and remain faithful?
Most people take these vows without even thinking what they really mean because half the time, they are so blinded by their infatuation. But can you really honor those vows?
Jim, 52 and Joyce, 51, had their troubles as a couple. Their children often wondered how they made it to 38 years of marriage. The couple loved each other, but they didn’t seem to like each other very much. Jim was fond of his beer and always talked down to his wife a lot. And whenever she tried to stand up to him, trouble began in what I won’t dare call paradise - because it wasn’t. There was a time Joyce thought of leaving but they stayed together anyway because somehow they believed God had a reason for them to be together so they resigned themselves to sharing their lives, however imperfect. Then something happened that changed their lives completely… kidney problems struck!
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Jim was always healthy but all of a sudden, he developed kidney problems. After years of marital ups and downs, they had to deal with multiple surgeries for complications of the disease and financial problems by the dozen. He had so many extra complications –including fracturing both elbows, several ribs and suffering a concussion after passing out and falling in the bath tub. As if that wasn’t enough humiliation for this ‘tough guy’ who used to go to the gym regularly, he gained 36 pounds of fluid due to some steroids he had been prescribed. He almost never left the bathroom.
During it all, Joyce stood by her imperfect man, sympathetic and helpful – through 6 stomach surgeries and 35 more procedures to drain the fluid that had accumulated in his abdomen. The process of at-home dialysis seemed to rob them of their lives and so much freedom. Jim lost his consulting business and Joyce got fired from 2 different jobs. They almost lost their house and Jim had to give up his leased car.
According to one physician’s words, Jim’s health was so bad: “According to your file, you are supposed to be dead!᾿ So when the donor testing process began, Joyce told her kids she wasn’t scared and decided to go all the way … donate her kidney to save this husband who had always talked down to her.
Jim was so touched that before the donor surgery, he handed a diamond pendant to one of his daughters and told her to give it to Joyce after the operation. Apparently he had squirreled away his spare cash to buy it.
The surgery went well. He awork in much pain, but all he could talk about was his wife Joyce. Was she OK? How was she feeling? And the nurses wheeled Joyce to him and the daughters brought the pendant so that Jim could watch her open it. Everybody cried. Jim fought back his emotions and they spontaneously held hands. In nearly 35 years, their children had never seen that happen. That moment changed their lives forever.
Jim stopped drinking and recovered very quickly. He has now become more patient and he’s no longer condescending to Joyce anymore. They have experienced a closeness which was all brought about by faith and their love for each other. That kidney transplant healed the whole family.
Can you really do in sickness and in health … especially to someone so cruel? Well, that is how God intended marriage to be I guess.
Tags: marriage vows
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