We are continuing to see how the Parable of the Soils can be applied to marriage when Jesus addresses shallow soil.

Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21 “Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root…The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

Jesus talked about the heart soil that was shallow, which when it heard about Jesus and his sacrificial death, quickly agreed with the premise, but didn’t make a commitment. The truth didn’t really permeate into that soul to make a difference. Troubles or persecution made her think being a Christian wasn’t really worth it and so she didn’t grow in her faith.

Marriage can be like that. We fall in love and we “receive it with joy.” We love being in love.

But when the troubles of life assail us, we begin to “fall out of love.” We wonder if it’s worth it. Such troubles can come in a variety of ways. Our spouse may not look as attractive as when we were dating or in early marriage. Or they may get sick, even become disabled. We might have to care for family members or experience the crisis of a wayward child or the illness of a child. Possibly, our job causes us to travel a lot or even live apart from our husband and wife for a time.

Joni Eareckson Tada writes: “The neat thing about Ken is that he helps me look at my disability as an asset rather than a liability. We choose to believe that my disability will strengthen our sense of commitment. It will press us to be unified (sometimes whether we want to or not!) as we tackle problems together.”

You can deepen your marriage soil during trials by making wise choices. If your spouse is ill, consider creating greater depth in your marriage by:

  • praying for healing, yet for God’s glory. It’s not always God’s will to heal every illness, but if he allows the illness to continue, he promises to bring good from it (Romans 8:28).
  • surrendering your spouse to God for his will. You cannot control the situation. Trying to do so could make you blame your spouse for being sick or becoming stressed over your need to be in charge of what happens. Instead, understand that only God is powerful enough to be in charge. 
  • joining a support group. The camaraderie of others going through similar circumstances will strengthen you to fortify your commitment.
  • learning about your spouse’s or your own illness. Ignorance will only create great fear and an inability to make wise choices. It’s essential that patients take charge of their own health. If your spouse is ill and unable to be motivated to ask bold questions, then step in and be a partner in taking charge. Doctors aren’t gods; they aren’t perfect nor have all the answers. You and your spouse must be bold in asking questions and finding out the truth of your situation.
  • taking care of yourself. If you’re not well, you can’t care for your spouse. Find the help you need to have times away and alone to replenish your own batteries.
  • expressing your commitment to your ill spouse. When ill, they may feel insecure about your loyalty and love. You can’t tell them too often that you love them and will stay by their side.
  • finding out your spouse’s true needs; don’t assume you know. Ask them how you can best make them feel loved and comfortable.
  • preparing for the death of your spouse. It’s not pleasant to think about or plan for, but it’s necessary for everyone to do, even if their spouse isn’t ill. A husband or wife should know their insurance plan(s) and what agencies and services are available. Having a will is essential. Knowing what financial investments have been made will give peace to a husband or wife who will have to deal with them alone in the future.

Which of those ideas could you apply immediately? In what other way do you need to dig deep to stir up shallow feelings?

How about thinking of five positive things about your spouse right now? Resist counteracting one because he or she doesn’t “perform” that positive way non-stop. Be grateful regardless.

Congratulations to Juli Bishop who won the drawing for Jennifer Kennedy Dean’s book “Pursuing the Christ.” Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing.