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February 7, 2024 / by Susie Warren

Forty years ago I married the love of my life. Mark was a follower of Jesus. Jesus was the Lord of his life and not a casual relationship. He lived out his faith daily.

One of the first things he said to me was, “God is good!” We enjoyed a wonderful first year of marriage despite some strange physical anomalies that Mark was experiencing. After barely a year of marriage, our plans and dreams were crushed by the debilitating diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The doctor told Mark he had 3-5 years.

One of my best friend’s dad wrote to me and shared a passage from the book of Daniel 3:24-25 “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it, not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!”
He reminded me that while Mark and I were in a fiery trial God would walk with us step by step. Notice how it also says that they walked in the midst of the fire without harm. We can testify that Jesus has walked with us every moment of every day and protected us from harm.

Early in our grief, I asked Mark if he ever felt like running away from God. Mark thoughtfully answered that every time he ran away, he ran right into Jesus. Mark quoted John 6:68 “Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

Looking back we can identify the countless ways God provided protection and supplied every physical, financial, and emotional need. Phil. 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Mark never considered giving up. God’s power and promises are evident and true. 2 Peter 1:3-4 “ . . . for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.”

Mark and I knew we did not want to live in anger, bitterness, and despair. Together we turned to hymns and music to fill our hearts with praise. The Imperials sang that God inhabits our praise. God has used the last 40 years to teach us that in our weakness He is strong. 2 Cor. 12:9 “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

God has also shown us that this life, full of affliction, is only seconds in light of eternity. 2 Corinthians 4:17 “For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison . . .”

Our circumstances have not been what we expected, but we have the marriage we always wanted.

I admit I am the difficult one. Mark has grown to be very forgiving. He forgives me before I ask for forgiveness or sometimes ready to receive it. Mark has saved 100 plus unique messages on his communication device expressing his love for me which also reminds me of how much more Jesus loves me. Our trials have revealed gifts we didn’t know we possessed or would have chosen. Our trials have connected us and blessed us with people we would have never encountered otherwise. Our trials have given us an eternal focus knowing that not only have we been redeemed but God will redeem “the years that the locust have eaten . . .” (Joel 2:25). What Satan meant to steal, kill, and destroy, God meant for our good and His glory. To God be the glory!

Susie Warren, devoted wife to Mark and dedicated caregiver to both him and her parents. She will retire in May 2024 after a fulfilling 40-year career as an elementary Special Education Teacher and Academic Interventionist. Her spiritual journey has deepened through engaging in Precept Bible Studies taught by Lynny Wegman.

Return to February Oak Leaf

February OakLeaf Articles:

Singleness and Marriage by Pastor Scott Boerckel
Blessed and Single by Sandy Way
Thriving as a Single Christian by Whitney Huettemann
Undivided Devotion by Bryon Phinney
A Picture of a Godly Marriage by Beth Ann Deal
Navigating Marital Conflict by Keith Studnicki
What if your marriage isn’t what you expected? by Susie Warren
Small Groups Strengthen Marriages by Pastor Justin Waples