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What I’m about to type is a 100% true story: Kim and I got married at our home church on the evening of August 10th, 1991. On August 11th, 1991, about 12 hours after committing in front of a packed crowd to spend the rest of our lives together, we were awakened by our clock radio. A man was reading the news, and these were the first words we heard on our first morning waking up in the same bed: “A new study reveals that 50% of all new marriages end in divorce within the first 5 years”. Like some of you are doing right now, we laughed out loud. That would never happen to us because we were simply too in love.

Fast forward 4 years, to July 1995. We were now the parents of 4 daughters: a 2 3/4-year-old and 16-month-old triplets. We were tired, stressed, broke, had not been intimate in some time, and were ready to throw in the towel on our marriage. On this Sunday evening, we were sitting in our van in the same church parking lot, having just left our small group. We were having a disagreement when a friend tapped on the window and asked to hop in the back seat. He had been divorced and could sense the tension between the two of us as he said, “You guys are in trouble. Let me help you get some counsel.” Through tears, we agreed.

Looking back now, those early years with 4 young daughters are all a blur. Sometimes it felt like all we had energy for was to hold on until tomorrow. I don’t remember the details of the counseling we received, but I’m thankful for that Christian friend who was willing to risk inserting himself into our mess, and I’m thankful for a pastor who was willing to take us on as counselees. Even if I don’t remember the details of his counsel, I know it helped – because we’re still married and thriving!

I truly believe that what we needed out of that counseling was just someone to reassure us that life has seasons, and that some (like having 4 children in 17 months) are harder than others. We needed to hear a brother in Christ acknowledge that it was okay to struggle and to reassure us that surviving the struggle would fill our futures with so much joy! While it is 100% true that children are a gift from the Lord, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a burden that goes along with raising them. It’s hard!

Just as Moses needed Aaron and Hur to hold up his arms, we needed brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside us and keep us in the fight for our marriage when we didn’t have enough energy of our own to go on. How many times does God’s word tell us to bear one another’s burdens or to consider other’s interests more important than our own? And at least 3 times in the book of Proverbs, we are taught that wisdom is found in a multitude of counselors.

There’s a reason why God gives us instructions such as those. It’s because we need each other! We need the local church!

In the nearly 3 decades since our daughters were born, the people of our church have many borne our burdens, and many times we have borne the burdens of others. We have counseled and been counseled. We have encouraged and been encouraged. We have prayed and been prayed for. We have forgiven and been forgiven. We have loved and been loved. This is why church is important. The local church is the context in which God has instructed us to exercise the “one another’s” of scripture. The local church is the earthly picture of life in the future city, whose architect and builder is God.