In Marriage as in Life, Weak Is Strong

In Marriage as in Life, Weak Is Strong by DAVE HARVEY for The Gospel Coalition

Have you ever noticed that a cell phone battery doesn’t last as long after you download an update? By now you know the drill: update > unplug > scramble madly for the charger.

I don’t get it.

People have lived in space for a year phoning Houston for box scores while having no battery problems. But here on terra firma, a longer-lasting cell phone battery still eludes us. But wait, this frustration is actually cultivated and purposeful; a sales device in an organized scheme.

In economics and industrial design, there’s a merchandizing strategy called planned obsolescence. It’s a fancy term to describe when a product is created with an artificially limited lifespan. The goal of the design weakness is to get you ready for an upgrade.

Manufacturers make their product obsolete after a certain period of time so that their customers will return to purchase the newest version. Profits boost by creating need.

The plan swings on a simple hinge: built-in weakness leads to dependence.

Installed Thorns

Did you know there’s a similar principal at work in God’s economy? And the principle plays out weekly in Christian marriage. God installs limitations, suffering, pain, and thorns into our lives to make us dependent on him. One irony of marriage is in how swiftly it yanks back the veil that covers our imperfections. With singles, weaknesses surface in other ways.

Paul experienced the effects of this plan after his magnificent and mysterious trip to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2–10). He was transformed by this experience, but not in the way we may think.

One of the ironies of fallenness is that sometimes even the best experiences push us to self-centered places. Our heart exults in the experience of the good rather than in the Giver of the good. So, in an act of love, God takes the things in which we most exult—things like a great marriage or a manageable parenting path—and transforms them into places that reveal our desperate need for him. To keep us from being unwisely elated, God installs a thorn in our life that pins us to our Savior.

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