A neighbor of mine works as a therapist for Alzheimer’s patients, both high-functioning and low. She recently described one sixty-ish daily visitor. “He is a saint. Every day he brings his lunch and eats with his wife. She doesn’t recognize him, so every day she is meeting a new friend. When we told him he needn’t come so often he said, ‘But she is my bride; if I did not see her, I would miss her.’”
The man’s wife had changed, but if she was no longer capable of seeing her groom, he still beheld and adored his bride. Their marriage, then, is the microcosmic reflection of the macro-love of God for his people and the love of Christ for his church. Love without limit, love without fear, love without desertion; love in joy and in pain, love in the shallows and the depths, love without end.
We cannot see God except as he is made manifest through us, and in the covenant of marriage his faithfulness is beautifully reflected. We look to this manifestation—in all its turbulent courses—to get an inkling of him. When we cannot see the great love of God reflected so near to us, we are diminished.
When love is rationalized into limits, we have sold love, and ourselves, short. If God is love, we have sold God short, too. We have chosen to walk around a fire, rather than through it, chosen not to trust that our sufferings have meaning and that they are, on balance, the crucibles of our commonalities, which mold and strengthen our societies.