I started following the story of Ian and Larissa Murphy a few years ago when John Piper's ministry, Desiring God, allowed them to guest blog and used their story to illustrate the concepts behind his helpful book, This Momentary Marriage.
If the Murphy's story isn't emotionally moving to you, then you have a heart of stone. It was amazing to see the story in brief several years ago, but their recent book Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn't Give Up retells the story in greater depth. This is a story of love that transcends romantic love, moving to the level of self sacrifice that is a testament to the power of God working in the hearts of believers.
Ian and Larissa went to college together. They fell in love. Soon they were going to get engaged. However, their pedestrian romance took a sudden and dramatic turn when Ian was in a horrific car accident.
For weeks after the accident, no one was certain Ian would live. If he did survive, he would be left with severe brain damage and be physically handicapped for life.
Most normal women in their early twenties would have mourned the loss and eventually moved on. This story tells of Larissa not giving up, but clinging to her love of Ian and the hope of his recovery. It also talks about the work of an entire community in supporting Ian's family and Larissa and helping them cope and eventually overcome.
Ian will never make a full recovery in this life. Although there has been some recovery of physical and mental capacities, the trauma of that accident will forever impact how Ian lives. He will always require special care. By choosing to marry Ian, Larissa made a life-long commitment to serve someone in difficult and sometimes humiliating ways.
This makes the decision of a talented, educated young woman to stay and marry a man that will require significant, life-long care astounding.
Ian recovered significantly before they got married. Though he was not the same as he was before the accident, this books provides accounts that show he was really there, behind the handicap. Still, the self-sacrifice is amazing.
I am certain their marriage isn't perfect. None are. Larissa and Ian give some hints to places they have failed, though they don't talk about all the struggles in detail. This is fine, since knowing all of the dirt wouldn't make this story any more authentic. At its core, this is a story of an agape love imperfectly manifested, but about as well as can be done in this earth.
This book was an encouragement to read. God is working through and perhaps especially because of Ian's accident. God is also working through Larissa's response.
Take the time to read this book. It is worth the investment, but have a box of tissues nearby.
Note: I received a gratis copy of this book from the publisher, but there was no requirement of a positive review. The analysis above is entirely my own.