I climbed into my car for what was supposed to be a thirty-five-minute drive to my urologist's office for my six-month checkup. As I was driving down a major surface street about five miles from my house a small green SUV traveling in the opposite direction suddenly made a left turn directly in my path. He says he never saw me because his vision was blocked by a minivan that was traveling in the same direction as me. I believe him because I never saw him either until he appeared in my path. There was only a split second before my car slammed into his rear passenger side wheel. In the split second, I saw everything getting ready to happen--tensing my body, slamming my brakes, and gripping the steering column. And, then impact. I watched the white airbags balloon out only microseconds after hearing the crunch of the crash. I felt a pain in my lower left leg as the lower dashboard caved in. In just seconds, my car was wrecked beyond its value. Aside from a bruised lower leg, I was physically fine. But, I was in a daze as to how everything changed so quickly. I never saw it coming.
I haven't had a car accident in decades. Yet, I received the phone call just today that my insurance company is considering my car a total loss. Ironically, just five months ago, my brother-in-law wrecked my wife Dalia's car and it was declared a total loss. In a span of five months, two cars were totaled. Yet, neither time was Dalia or I responsible for what happened. It's surreal.
Is there a lesson here for marriage? Yes, I think so.
The Apostle Paul's Perspective on Total Loss
In the book of Philippians (3:7-8), the Apostle Paul talks about loss. In fact, he brandishes his loss with pride--repeating the word "loss" three times in the span of two verses. He writes, "But, whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ."
What is Paul telling us about loss?
Paul is reminding me that everything (literally everything) I think I have is of secondary importance to becoming more like Christ. Regardless of how important it is to me or how much it costs me or what my plans were for it, I must be willing to sacrifice it if in doing so I better know Christ. Everything means every possession (like cars) but more importantly it means every personality quirk, every personal preference, every emotion, and every difference of opinion with my wife. I must count it as a total loss if in the process I gain Christ.
It is easy to get caught up in the daily routine of marriage and forget that everything in our marriage routine is expendable in order that we may gain Christ. Nothing is mine for the keeping. There are no exceptions. It's all what Paul deems "rubbish".
Finding Beauty in Loss
Couples who are able to count it all as loss for the sake of Christ are going to discover unlimited depth in their spiritual and emotional intimacy. But, they are also going to discover how God's beauty and supernatural power emanate from their union.
As I reflect on the total loss of our two cars over the past five months, I believe that God is reminding me that everything that Dalia and I have belongs to him. He is reaffirming how Dalia and I must allow these experiences to speak eternal truths to our spirits. Do not worry about the expense of getting new cars. God is going to provide. Do not worry about rises in insurance premiums. God is going to use these episodes to grow us as a couple.
In other words, I am going to look for ways to give God glory for these losses. In fact, that's why I'm writing to you about them. I am thankful to God for the many years that we had with these cars--allowing us to save money without a car payment. Thanking God that he protected us from any serious physical harm during these accidents. Thanking God that we are in a financial position to get newer cars with newer features that we can enjoy. Praise the Lord as I strive to count it all as a loss in order to remember that Christ still smiles on us.
You may be going through a difficult season in your marriage right now as well. Those seasons are inevitable. But, sometimes they can feel really dark. There is only one path to wholeness. Count it all loss that you might gain grace, mercy, and peace for your soul and your home. It doesn't mean that you don't suffer or experience emotional hurt. It does mean that you give the loss to the Lord for him to get the glory. He will return to you all that the Adversary steals when you glorify Him.