The wedding day is rightfully a most joyous day, as a community of friends and family come together to celebrate the sacred union of two of their own, in love and in marriage. At that time, the great potential of marriage is celebrated, as the two lovebirds are sent on the voyage of love in the ocean called “Marriage”. Their hearts are filled with joy and hope and faith and love… With the greatness of their love, they believe that they can conquer any obstacles that may come their way, and they are eager to start on their adventure!
Sadly, this feeling of joy, hope, faith and love seems to die down as they progress along the ocean of marriage. As they face the rough seas and cold nights…their love and faith are tested…and their joy meets frustration, and hope meets depression. They begin to wonder if they have what it takes after all… They wonder if their wedding day would be the height of their joy…or if in fact such joy can be relived and even surpassed in their marriage.
The truth is that our joy in any endeavour in this life is not tied to the endeavour itself, but to our purpose. If we loose sight of our purpose, we loose the savour of joy. When you loose joy, you go in search of it through enjoyment and have momentary periods of happiness which, when they pass, often leaves one with depression, causing you to repeat the search for joy; yet lasting joy evades you. But when we retain a sense of purpose, we see meaning even in suffering (Jam 1:2-4), and we have hope and are able to abide in joy, having faith in God who gave us a purposeful existence.
The joy in marriage is tied to the purpose for which marriage was created. Marriage, itself, has no joy! Marriage that is entered into wrongly, and not submitted to the law of God, offers no joy to those who engage in it. It is in fact a burden, and a bondage to those submitted to it. It will be as effective in accomplishing the will of God, as the Law was effective in making man righteous…
God gives marriage purpose, and He is the source of joy within marriage… As we saw in B for Blessed to Bless, a primary purpose of marriage is to teach us about the enduring love of God, and to minister this love to the world. Our connection to Him and recognition of Him as the centre, will enable us to find and retain joy in marriage. However, if we take Him out of the equation, and trust in our own way, we can only expect a disaster as we find that our love is not able to endure all things… We may enjoy brief or even long moments of happiness, but joy will ultimately evade us, because joy originates from and is sustained by God.
Well, someone might say, even Christian marriages, where Christ is upheld as centre, are lacking in joy, and many end up in divorce. This is true. Jesus said, “according to your faith will it be done to you” (Matt 9:29). Many Christian marriages are so in theory alone, and not in practice. Many people do not show by their actions that they believe the things they profess with their mouths, so their works reveal the truth of their faith (Jam 2:14-26)! And so, if their faith is dead by works, how can their marriages show forth the power of God?
So we see that we too have a part to play in unleashing the power of God in our marriage! We have to show our faith in Him by our works of love and submission – first to Him, then to each other. When we act as His agents, we act according to His purpose for our marriage, and we will be successful and we will have the joy we truly desire! The link between purpose and joy can not be overstated. We should all know that we are happiest when we do what we are created to do…when we are walking in the will of God, fully exercising the potential He has hid in us.
Here are five things we can and should be doing, to retain and grow our experience of joy in marriage:
- Nurture our Relationship. We should do this by paying attention to each other, spending time with each other, communicating truthfully and growing in intimacy. We must build on the foundation of friendship, and work to keep romance in the relationship, by communicating in each other’s preferred love language. We must also serve one another in love, submitting to one and another and lifting each other up.
- Cherish our Gift. We must appreciate each other, and treasure the covenant of marriage. We must protect our marriage from external influences, by being on guard against temptation, complacency, pride, dishonesty and other roots of discord, that wish to put asunder the holy bond. We should develop the habit of speaking life into our relationship, through regular prayer and kind words of affirmation, and not speaking death, either by bad-mouthing our spouse or thinking bad about our spouse.
- Mature in Christ. We should grow in our walk with Christ, so that He moulds us daily into His likeness. We should begin to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, being “…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). Our lives should be disciplined and fruitful. And as we grow in graciousness, we are more able to live in peace and love with our spouse.
- Endure in Trials. When we are mature in Christ, we are able to endure trials, knowing that they build up our character (Rom 5:3-5), and knowing also that Christ, who is with us, will bring us out of every trial with testimonies (Rom 8:28)! In the midst of a trial, we continue to do what is right, and do not fall for the lies of the enemy to turn us away from faith and faithfulness. Trials are for a reason and for a season, and must be endured by keeping our eyes on God.
- Trust in God. As we keep our eyes on God, our faith will not fail us, neither will our love run cold, because our expectation is not laid in man, but in God. When we have done everything else, all that remains for us to do is to stand (Eph 6:13)! We must trust God, the Authour and Finisher of our Faith to honour His own name, and carry us through, and bring us out victorious (Heb 12:2; 1 Cor 10:13). We know that He is love and He never fails. Has God not promised? He will surely show Himself faithful (Num 23:19; 2 Tim 2:13).
So, my brothers and sisters, the joy of marriage is yours for the taking… It comes with the correct and faithful exercise of your gift, marriage. Joy is God’s promise to the righteous (Prov 10:28), so don’t let the lies of the enemy cause you to forsake the path of faith and faithfulness. God never promised you that the road would be easy…only that it will end in pure joy, if you will trust and obey every step of the way. Also remember that joy is not simply the reward for completion, but as you abide in Him, He will sustain you with joy through the whole journey!