“Happy anniversary, my Darling,” he said as he handed her the beautiful bouquet of flowers. “Forty years ago, you turned my life upside down when you moved into my neighborhood. And it took a few years before I plucked up the courage to ask you out on a date. Thank you for not saying no and for the happiest years of my life.” He pulled her to his side and kissed her on the temple.
Joanne smiled as she inhaled the sweet fragrance of the roses. “These are lovely,” she said. “Thank you for being such a wonderful husband.”
Tears came to her eyes as she thought of how amazing he had been when they found out that she couldn’t have children. It had devastated her because she had longed to be a mother and she knew that he would have made a terrific father. For years they had tried and then she had learned that they would never have children. It was a very bitter pill to swallow and for months she was depressed but Martin was always there, loving her and trying to help her through those though times.
During the moments of despair, she lashed out at God, asking Him why He would deny her the joy of being a mother. Friends encouraged her to looking into adopting a child but she didn’t want to consider it. And Martin assured her that she was more than enough for him and tried to encourage her to go away on trips with him and get involved in activities to take her mind off of things. He was so devoted to her that sometimes she felt ashamed of how she was so fixated on not being able to have children that she might be neglecting him.
One day she was turning the pages of her Bible, not sure what to read. It had been a while since she had even opened it. And her eyes fell on the chapter one of the first book of Samuel. She began to read it. She could identify with Hannah. She remembered those times when she couldn’t eat and was always in tears. And all Martin could do was try to comfort her as best as he could. It must have been so hard for him. The words, But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb. Martin loved her even though she couldn’t give him children. Her barrenness hadn’t diminished his love at all, in fact it had grown stronger. Her friends remarked on how he treated her like a queen.
And Elkanah’s words to Hannah cut Joanne to the quick. “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” Wasn’t Martin better to her than the children she wished she could have? He was there and they were not. God had blessed her with an incredible man whose happiness was wrapped up in her and the life they could have together. She felt ashamed and she cried out to God, asking Him to forgive her for being so selfish and for her anger and bitterness toward Him.
That night when Martin came home, she asked him to forgive her and he, of course, assured her that there was nothing to forgive. He took her in his arms and held her close for a long time. That night was the turning point in her life. She decided that she would focus on her marriage and nothing else.
Forty years later and they were still going strong. There were still moments when she wondered what would have happened if her life had turned out like Hannah’s. Hannah had prayed to God and He had opened her womb and blessed her with seven children. Joanne had prayed for Him to do the same miraculous thing for her but it didn’t happen. God had blessed her with a lasting, strong and healthy marriage and tonight she was going to celebrate.
“Are you ready?” Martin asked.
She nodded. “Yes. I’m ready to celebrate forty years of being married to an incredible man.” Yes. There was much to celebrate. And she had God to thank for that.