The thematic verse for chapters 7-8 is 2 Thess. 3:5: “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” The theme is perseverance in marriage, even if it’s a bad marriage in which you struggle constantly, and feel like you’ve married the “wrong one.” Thomas notes that even in redemptive history, in the relationship between God and His people, there have been periods of great joy and celebration, frustration and anger, infidelity and apostasy, and “excruciating seasons of silence.” (105). But through it all, God did not turn His back on Israel; His “overall commitment remained concrete and steadfast” (106). Thomas’ words on the spiritual discipline of perseverance are worth the read. He notes that “we live in a nation of quitters.” (107). How true this is. Parenthetically, I’d say that we live in a nation of quitters, “victims,” whiners, and “entitlists” (I think I just made up a word here; I’m referring to so many in our culture who feel like the rest of the world owes them something just because they were born).
Thomas’ position on perseverance leads him to challenge those who leave their spouses to consider that the basic Christian discipline of perseverance leads one to self-denial. But again, I think cultural mandates and fads lead too many Christians astray. They buy into the cultural mores of so-called happiness, and the “me first” attitude. Of course, I firmly believe that this sort of thinking is ingrained in people when they are children, by parents with little or no biblical parenting skills, who model for their children that the child is the most important person in the world – but that’s another issue.
In chapter 8, Thomas goes into two very interesting examples of perseverance in marriage. One was Abraham Lincoln, who according to Thomas’ biography was married to perhaps the worst first lady ever. But Lincoln stuck it out, and it can be easily seen that God used that marriage to build character in a man who was larger than life, all the while, his marriage was terrible. The second was Anne Lindbergh, who was married to Charles Lindbergh. Same scenario. Her marriage and circumstances were less than desirable, but God used them to build character and to offer platforms for ministry that would otherwise have NOT been available. What about your marriage? Thomas says, “A difficult marriage does not pronounce a death sentence on a meaningful life. It presents several challenges, to be sure, but it also provides wonderful opportunities for spiritual growth . . .” (152).