Keeping up with the Fruits of the Spirit in marriage today. 🙂 Next up: Joy.
When I was younger, I used to think that joy was all about feeling happy, having fun, and laughing a lot. It is that, but it’s more than that when we invite God into things.
The world’s definition of joy is: “1. the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation. 2. a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated. 3. the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety. 4. a state of happiness or felicity” (Dictionary.com).
The Bible, however, says a couple of things about joy. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4, English Standard Version). And “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4, ESV).
Have you ever known someone who has gone through something terrible–a death in the family, cancer, abuse, etc.–but has still somehow maintained joy? I’ve been so fortunate to know such people. Honestly, on my side of things, I don’t know how they do it. But I know what they would say: it’s all God, not them. It’s a supernatural thing, something that, until you go through it, you probably won’t understand.
Joy is something that lasts. It endures, even through painful times. It’s different than happy. Happy is a feeling that comes and goes–joy sticks with us. I have joy because of God, but I’m not always a happy camper. Ask my husband and kids. (…Actually, don’t ask them. I don’t want your perception of me ruined. HA!!) The best explanation on the difference between happiness and joy that I’ve read can be found at GotQuestions.org.
So how does this relate to marriage? I believe when both people in the marriage have joy–the enduring kind of joy–their marriage is stronger. They may not always be happy, but they’re not as tempted to find that joy outside the marriage. Their love deepens and endures They can forgive more easily (note I’m not saying they can forgive easily, just more easily, in my experience). They rely on God first for their worth and are more complete, not looking to their spouse to make them complete or happy or to give them joy.
Does that make sense? (And oh, please know I’m talking to myself here, too!)
How do we get joy? The only time I’ve truly experienced joy is when I’ve given up my self: my desires, my ambitions, my goals, my dreams, my own fulfillment, and I’ve sought God: His desires for me, His ambitions for me, His goals for me, His dreams for me, His fulfillment in me. When I seek Him and find Him, I find joy.
For more verses on joy (and what it means and entails), visit Faith Gateway.