"Marriage is mainly about displaying the covenant keeping love between Christ and his church… If we set our face to make of marriage mainly what God designed it to be, no sorrows and no calamities can stand in our way… Everyone of them will be not an obstacle to success, but a way to succeed."
- John Piper
The numbers "eight twenty eight" have special significance for Ian and Larissa Murphy. They stand for August 28th, Ian's father's birthday and the day of their wedding anniversary. They also mark a passage in Romans that has sustained the couple through tremendous tragedy:
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."
The words are reassuring to many Christians who wrestle with uncertainty and doubts about the future, but Ian and Larissa have desperately clung to these words through years of struggle following Ian's traumatic brain injury on September 30th, 2006. They met in college and had been dating for ten months when Ian's car collided with an SUV on his way to work, an extra job he was working to save money for an engagement ring. He was rushed to hospital and underwent hours of brain surgery.
In the weeks, months and years that followed, Ian fought to regain the most basic of physical functions. For a full month after the accident he didn't respond to verbal communication from the doctors. Three months later he was still struggling to swallow food. Two and half years after that, the couple was asking for prayers that Ian would simply be able to drive his mobile chair.
On the surface it sounds like a story full of undeserved suffering and unanswered prayers, but both Ian and Larissa have continued to turn to the promises of Romans 8:28. Larissa remained committed to Ian, and on August 28th, 2010 they got married in a picture-perfect outdoor ceremony surrounded by family and friends. But, despite their love and commitment, they still struggle with the fall-out of the accident and Ian's brain injury. On the couple's blog, Larissa admits to the still-common moments of severe doubt and disbelief in God after a particularly rough week this past summer.
"And so that week, the lies and doubts and disbelief were loud, too loud, bouncing in my thoughts enough to bring me to tears in bed before my husband. Tears because I didn't believe He valued us, because sometimes watching the good that we want for our lives happen to others digs deeply into the places of our hearts that were mangled on September 30."
Larissa is honest in her writing, and her transparency is evident in their new book, Eight Twenty Eight. Despite times of difficulty and Larissa's uncertainty, the book is a testament to God's faithfulness and to a love that doesn't give up.