Devotion #189

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4 ESV

Imagine having a perfect marriage, a union lacking in nothing. It’s what we’re all after, isn’t it? What does a perfect marriage look like? Movies and romance novels certainly try to define it for us, social media displays the perfect marriage for us in pictures and short video clips, but how does God define a perfect marriage? And how do we get there?

Steadfastness. This verse helps us see the connection between a marriage that is perfect and complete, lacking in nothing and steadfastness. But what exactly is meant by steadfastness?

When I pause on a word in scripture to ponder its meaning, I always find it helpful to look at the words used in other translations. The NIV version translates is as perseverance, NASB uses the word endurance, and the NKJV interprets the word as patience, but none of them truly capture the meaning of the original Greek work hupomeno. Hupomeno is a compound word, which when broken down can help uncover a deeper understanding of this verse. Hupo means under, and meno means remain, so when you put them together, hupomeno means to ‘remain under.’ It’s the idea of staying under the weight of a challenge or a struggle, as opposed to walking away or giving up. It’s bearing up under the pressure points of life, standing firm and not giving way when the heaviness or burdens increase.

Our lives are filled with circumstances that exert pressure on us. Marriage itself can cause stress, but add to it the challenging of managing work and family responsibilities and you start to feel the tensions rise. Financial burdens and middle of the night feedings, aging parents and adolescence—they all add more and more pressure onto our marriages. Couple those tensions with the added burden of the unexpected crisis—a health concern, children in trouble, a flooded basement, and the pressure can be overwhelming. It makes you want to scream. An insensitive comment is made, a harsh response is thrown, and suddenly you find yourself looking for an escape. The more the pressure, the more we desire to get away. We start looking for an exit. 

And our off-ramps are as varied as the rollercoaster we’re riding—some look to the bottle as an escape, some to a glass. Some look in the refrigerator, some look for the exit at the mall. Still others look for an escape in an activity that takes you far from the house, some throw themselves into their work, while others look to a relationship that makes you forget all that you have going on at home. When the tensions rise, we want to run. We want to quit.

But God tells us to stay. He wants us to bear up under the pressure because everything He has that’s good for us flows through the tension. Hupomeno is the path that leads to a marriage lacking in nothing, it’s how we reach perfection because it is the pressure that changes us. Rather than running, if we only learned to stop and open our eyes in the moments when the trials seem to be the greatest, we would find the supernatural power to transform our hearts. We grow a little more like Him in those moments, and we find His peace and His joy. 

Don’t run from the pressure, embrace it. Take a breath, sit down in the mess, humble yourself, and you’ll find the way forward to a perfect marriage, lacking in nothing.

Press on – you are loved 💗

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