Acts 2:28b “…you will fill me with joy in your presence.”
Too many couples are seeking happiness when they should be pursuing joy. All too often marriages disintegrate because one or both spouses is looking to be made HAPPY by their mate. If the sense of happiness fades or gets thrown off-kilter, then we blame our spouse, withdraw, and even divorce.
For a Christian marriage to succeed and thrive there has to be a cooperation by each person with God’s Holy Spirit. The presence of God’s Spirit yields divine characteristics that the Bible calls “fruit” which are evidence of God’s work in our lives. The second fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 is JOY.
There’s a profound difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on our circumstances. For example:
- We are happy when we get a raise
- We are happy when we win a contest
- We are happy when we get a new job
- We are happy when we receive a gift from our spouse
- We are happy when our spouse does something nice for us
- We are “Happy, Happy, Happy” when we read Phil Robertson’s book on being Duck Commander 🙂
Joy, however is different. Joy is deeply rooted in who we are in our relationship with God. Joy trusts God, hopes in God, and has faith to trust him even when things are difficult.
The writer of Hebrews describes that Jesus endured the cross (pain) because of the joy that was yet to come. (Hebrews 12:2) The root word for joy is the same as that for grace. This means that even when things are difficult and painful in life—or in marriage—there can be a deep sense of joy as we place our hope in God. This doesn’t minimize or dilute the hurt, but it stabilizes us by being anchored in an unshakeable rock.
When we have joy from God’s Spirit, it is accompanied by grace. So a Christian spouse who is marked by joy is able to express God-given grace in difficult circumstances. Joy is a choice as is giving grace. In fact, it was commanded by Paul when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
So how do we partner with the Holy Spirit to bring joy into our marriage? Ask God for it! When circumstances of life—or marriage—are difficult, breathe a prayer like, “Father, I want to have a faith-filled joy in the midst of this. I want to trust you and honor you with my attitude. Through the power of your Spirit, please give me joy to glorify you.”
- When finances are tight, choose joy.
- When your spouse doesn’t make you “happy,” choose joy.
- When a health crisis hits, choose joy.
- When people sin against you, choose joy.
Joy through God’s Spirit is vital for your relationship with God and your relationship with your spouse. Choose joy and build your marriage!