You write that at the end of your husband's life "it seemed as if the goods of marriage were present more intensely in that hospital room than had ever been before." How can we experience good in the midst of evil?

Difficult circumstances of whatever kind tend, at least in the context of marriage, to move you faster in the direction that you were already going. I have friends who had a handicapped child some years ago. And the person that made the diagnosis sat them down together and said, This will make or break your marriage. And she says that really happened. They decided to be on each other's team and to pull together through this very unexpected and tragic thing, which was open to blessing at the same time.

And I think that certainly was what happened to Hyung Goo and me. The difference was that we encountered it even before we were married. And so we had to decide whether we wanted to embark upon this, under the circumstances.

When you're faced in a very direct way with the limitations of your life and the reality that there will be worse as well as better, it can sober you up. You have to do it together or you won't be able to manage.

What did you learn about Christian marriage from your experience?

When Hyung Goo and I were deciding whether we wanted to marry each other, I noticed how everybody, Christians included, thought that the only sane way to step into marriage was if you could maintain your fantasy that everything will be fine forever. That meant we shouldn't do it because marriage is supposed to be this pathway strewn with rose petals. And you have to be able to pretend that it will be only that way for the foreseeable future. But it's not. And knowing that is actually helpful for making marital decisions.

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Editor's Bookshelf
David Neff
David Neff was editor in chief of Christianity Today, where he worked from 1985 until his retirement in 2013. He is also the former editor in chief of Christian History magazine, and continues to explore the intersection of history and current events in his bimonthly column, "Past Imperfect." His earlier column, "Editor's Bookshelf," ran from 2002 to 2004 and paired Neff's reviews of thought-provoking books and interviews with the authors.
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