Levi and Jennie Lusko on fighting for their marriage after losing a child, God's faithfulness amid pain

Levi and Jenni Lusko
Levi and Jenni Lusko |

Levi and Jennie Lusko know firsthand what it means to face unspeakable tragedy.

In December 2012, their 5-year-old daughter, Lenya, died after suffering an asthma attack — a tragedy the couple admits that, if not for the grace of God, would have broken them. 

“Statistically speaking, our marriage shouldn't still be standing because we endured the death of a child, which sounds a death knell for marriage,” Levi Lusko, the lead pastor of Fresh Life Church, a multi-site church in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Oregon, told The Christian Post. “But by God's grace, we're not only married, we're happily married — more so than ever.”

Though prioritizing one another — much less going on a date night — seemed nearly impossible after such an unspeakable loss, the couple clung to one another in their time of grief, believing that God is best honored when the family thrives.

“We're so thankful we buckled down and fought for [our marriage],” Lusko said. “We chose to honor God and as an act of spiritual worship, prioritize our marriage, and we're reaping the rewards of it all these years later.”

Now married 19 years, the couple is on a mission to help other couples fight for their marriages, no matter what obstacles they face. The couple — parents to three other daughters and a son — recently releasedThe Marriage Devotional: 52 Days to Strengthen the Soul of Your Marriage

In it, they offer biblical wisdom to help marriages flourish, along with short prayers to pray over one’s spouse and a checklist of fun, thoughtful activities to do throughout the week. 

“Jennie and I have seen the good the bad and the ugly and 19 years, we both are breaking, by Jesus' power, chains of divorce that come to us on both sides of our family, and we're watching that new legacy open up for our kids. And we're excited about it. We want to fight for other people's marriages too,” the pastor said.

The Luskos are the first to acknowledge they don’t have it all figured out — but in a society rife with divorce, they said they’ve been convicted to speak out about the importance of marriage. When marriages flourish, they said, society flourishes. 

“We're speaking out of the pain of experience,” Lusko said. 

Levi Lusko

“Strong marriages and strong homes are what the world needs,” he added. He cited Psalm 128, which says, in part: “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.”

“If I want peace in my country, I want my city to be touched, I want the world to be changed, well it starts in our souls with Jesus and then spreads to our marriage bed and then our table which is where life happens,” he said. “I think that that can transform the world … so goes marriage, so goes civilization. I think we both have a conviction that marriage is worth fighting for. It's not something that's like, ‘Oh, it is what it is.’ It's something we can grow in. It’s a grace, it's a muscle, it's an art.”

The couple stressed the importance of reading the Bible together, going on dates, communicating, forgiving and extending grace — and having fun together. And the key to a healthy marriage, Jennie Lusko said, is each individual developing a strong, personal relationship with the Lord. 

“I think the key is … our soul, us having the responsibility of our own soul and our own relationship with the Lord,” she said. “I think what our hope is, is that this would really build the foundation of a relationship with Jesus even stronger.”

They’re also big fans of counseling and professional help, when necessary: “Psychology and faith can and do coexist,” Lusko said. “All the principles that are true in psychology are all God's truth. All truth is God's truth.”

The Luskos also emphasized the power of language when it comes to talking about marriage, avoiding, for example, terms like “ball and chain.”

“We like to say that language matters,” Levi Lusko said. “How we talk does matter. … one thing we tell engaged couples is, don't use the language when you want to have a kid that ‘we're going to start a family.’ Your family began at the altar when you said ‘I do.’ If this child has the power to create a family … does that mean when you're empty nesters, you're no longer a family? Start to see the marriage as the family and then you're going to add members in and they're going be there as a welcome part of the family, but not the center of the family. The marriage comes first.”

Marriage, he added, “is a gift that's been given from God to man to enrich our lives and to help us become who were meant to be and to change the world.”

“So speak of it carefully and enjoy it fully,” he said. 

To couples who, like them, have suffered tremendous loss and suffering, the Luskos stressed the importance of resting in God’s providence. 

“I think the biggest thing is just holding desperately on to Jesus and not letting go, because He's the only one who's going to give us hope and peace and purpose and power as we walk through the unimaginable, and as we walk through the trouble,” Jennie Lusko said. 

Levi Lusko agreed: “Give yourself the grace to be angry. It's OK to feel confused. That's not a betrayal of God, the confusion. Press into Him, He's present with you and for whatever reason, God saw fit to entrust your child to you. It wasn't haphazard or willy-nilly or an accidental lottery. … He said in Matthew 5, ‘Blessed are the brokenhearted.’ So there's some blessing in it even if you don't see it yet.”

Thriving marriages and families are the cornerstone of society and the key to building God’s Kingdom, the Luskos said — and they hope their devotional can play a small part in helping marriages flourish. 

“We hope that this marriage devotional is encouraging,” Jennie Lusko said. “The change we want to see in the world, the peace, we want to see the hope, the change and knowing that it starts with us. It starts with the strength of our marriage, the strength of our family, the strength of our table. And so our hope is that this would just encourage couples to go deeper.”

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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