Beth Tennant

Faith, Hope and Love

Feel love or think and behave with love?

When I was asked to write about marriage for this post I had the same response as Emma last month, an instant “NO”. I’m no expert on marriage, I’m not qualified to give marriage advice and I know that everyone’s marriage is different. However, when I reread Leigh’s request and realized that the intent is to encourage us to grow in our relationship with Jesus through the topic of marriage, I thought I would take on the challenge!

Most marriages start with a wedding, and I would guess a gazillion Christian weddings have included 1 Corinthians 13 in their Wedding Ceremony. For me 1 Corinthians 13:13 gives us 3 aspects to consider in our marriages and our relationship with Jesus.

“Three things will last forever- faith, hope and love- and the greatest of these is love.”

Faith can be defined as ‘a high degree of trust or confidence in something or someone.’ In a marriage it’s about trusting and believing in your spouse. It grows as we learn about each other, encourage one another and are trustful, trustworthy, and consistent. We know that when we make a promise, or our spouse makes a promise to us, it will be done. To me faith is a mindset, a belief that grows and builds each time we are faithful.

In what aspects of your marriage is your faith strong?

However, we know that being human we are all flawed, and we don’t always think, talk, or behave in a way that is faithful. This is not just when there is sexual unfaithfulness but also in aspects such as money (ever lied about how much you paid for shoes or getting your hair done?) Or maybe we’ve criticized our spouse publicly, belittling the decisions they’ve made or not followed up on things we said we would do. Unfaithfulness breaks trust and can be very damaging, causing anger and bitterness. If faith and trust in your spouse and marriage is under pressure, can I remind you that Jesus is always faithful and trustworthy. In the bible, Mathew 17:20, Jesus tells his followers,

“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

I cook with mustard seeds and know how small they are and have seen mountains in New Zealand and marveled at how big they are. When faith is believing in Jesus it can be tiny because he is so big. I haven’t seen a literal mountain move but in 35 years of marriage Jesus has helped me to trust figurative mountains to be moved. When I put my faith in him, he helps me see things from a different perspective, his healing presence brings peace and his promises of mercy and forgiveness remind me to accept and offer mercy and forgiveness so trust can remain or be rebuilt.

Is there an area of your marriage that you can pray about and ask Jesus to grow your faith?

Hope can be defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.”

I think that if faith is the mindset/belief in our marriage, hope is the emotion marriage stirs up. Hope is a feeling of joy, anticipation and expectation that comes from a shared vision of the future. Some people go into marriage and all the vision is for the wedding and they forget about sharing a vision for the next 5, 10 or 50 years of their marriage. Or maybe the things you hoped marriage would bring such as children, support, love, a home, stability, kindness haven’t happened, and the hope has faded. For me the challenge to maintain hope was during the frenetic years: raising four children, working, volunteering, coaching, committee meetings, health issues, family, friends etc. When life gets so busy, we really do forget to share our hope and vision and marriage and our spouse can just become another thing on the to do list, squeezed in wherever they can be fitted.

When faith takes a knock it’s like a tumbling tower of bricks and you start from the foundation to build it up again. Hope is more like a slow leak, each tear cried at the heartbreak of a broken dream, slowly dripping away as our expectations and desires are not met and it leaves an incredible sadness and hurt. In the bible in Matthew 12:21 the writer reminds us about Jesus,

“And his name will be the hope of all the world.”

Jesus is hope and he can restore hope. Let him drip hope back into you and fill you so that you will bubble up with hope like a fountain bringing you peace and deep joy. At Eastlake we know that Jesus is the source of hope and we have a core vision of being hope traffickers because we know what a change it makes in people’s lives and marriages to have hope.

Is there a place in your marriage where you need to reset your vision of expectation and desires and rebuild hope?

While I was writing this, I was praying Romans 15:13 for you,

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Love is the third aspect we will discuss. Maybe a no brainer when it comes to marriage! Rather than going with a dictionary definition of love (because I don’t want to compare my love for netball with my love for my husband, or his love for me with his love for shopping on Gumtree) we are going to go back to the start to read 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 .

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustices but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstances.”

When we first fall in love it’s very much a feeling and love is great. As our relationship grows, we start to have to choose to not just feel love but to think with love and behave in love. The verses above are a place to start and really set us a challenge for our marriages.

What would it mean in your marriage if you committed yourself to expressing love in the way described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7?

Living that kind of love day in and day out may seem impossible, but we don’t have to love out of our own strength. Jesus is described as both our source of love (1 John 4:7) and our example of love (1 John 3:16). By growing in our relationship with Jesus, and as our acceptance of his love for us matures, we can love others knowing that God first loved us. From 1 John 4:16,17a,

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.”

So, if love as described in 1 Corinthians 13 seems to be a long way off for your marriage can I suggest you start with coming to Jesus and letting him love you and show you where in your marriage you are already showing love and where it could grow.

A relationship with Jesus or a marriage that has faith, hope and love means we can feel safe, confident, joyful, peaceful, and generous to others. It allows us to grow and take on challenges knowing we always have someone who has faith in us, shares our hopes and loves us no matter the circumstances. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope it encourages you in your marriage and your relationship with Jesus.

Beth Tennant

Beth Tennant

Eastlaker, Wife, Mum

Beth has been an integral part of Eastlake for over 20 years. Beth is a faithful woman of God. She carries grace, joy and love wherever she goes and is a blessing to all her know her. She has been married for 35 years to her husband Andrew who has served on the Eastlake board for many years. We love her!