I find that contentment and joy go hand in hand. It is both a true sense of joy that comes from knowing God that can enable me to be content with whatever I have, and also the ability to be content in my circumstances that helps me stay grounded in joyfulness. I can do both of these because of Christ, who gives me strength.
Joy, as we’ve discussed many times before, is not happiness. Yes, you can be happy and joyful at the same time. You can also have a joy that is not affected by outward circumstances in the midst of trials and tribulations. In my experience, joy is almost like the opposite of depression. Instead of giving in to the bad thinking that can come because of bad circumstances, I can hang on to the joy that is Christ in me to keep me afloat.
~ Joy tells me things like, “this is bad but God is bigger and better and He’s GOT THIS so I’m not going to worry over it.”
~ Joy lets me keep smiling and laughing when it doesn’t look like there’s much to smile about.
~ Joy tells me not to focus on what I don’t have but everything I do have!
How does this relate to marriage?
We don’t have much. My husband is self employed, income is often “feast or famine,” I stay home to teach and raise the kids — like I said, we don’t have much. I know some of this is by choice, by choosing to be self employed and choosing to live on one income. I don’t bring it up much because I don’t want to even imply that my husband isn’t working hard to meet our needs or say anything that will make you think less of him. But if I were to try to say that it’s always easy to stay joyful, I would be lying. It isn’t easy at all.
We have been blessed to live in a place with God for many years now where we have to trust Him and rely on Him to supply our needs–I mean really trust Him. We have learned the difference between needs and wants and we’ve seen God provide when there didn’t seem a way. Sometimes I feel like Paul:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
It’s hard, but on the other hand I have seen God do so many amazing things! You know when it has been the hardest? When I lost my joy. When I gave in to worry, doubt, depression, anxiety or any other things that squashes joy and breeds like a invasive weed, getting through the tough spot was even harder.
My losing my joy is no picnic for my husband, either. (Now we’re getting to the marriage part.) My husband doesn’t need a wife that’s going to worry, fret, whine, argue, freak out, get angry…shall I go on? If money is tight and I get depressed about money, that doesn’t help me or my husband. If the car keeps needing repairs and I keep grumbling about the old car, that doesn’t me or my husband. If a particularly difficult spell of parenting or an issue that I need to work out with my husband is getting me down, getting depressed or sulky will NOT help me.. OR my husband. A difficult situation is already difficult enough without me adding to it.
Shucks, sometimes you don’t even need a difficult situation to steal your joy away, sometimes the tediousness of daily life can do it, too, I’m just sayin’. Forget a flat tire, sometimes spilled milk is all that it takes to break you down.
I mess up on this a lot. I tend to freak out a little here and there, worry about money from time to time, and get depressed on occasion. But I can look at the times that I didn’t and I can see the difference in my attitude and our marriage relationship when I was able to keep a joyful heart that trusted in God and smiled at the future.
How many times must God prove it to me? I want God to change my heart.
I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface on this one. It’s a big one. It’s a hard one, too. Especially in light of things like the recent tragedy in Colorado. Things like that make some people scoff at the idea that joy in the midst of trials is possible. I’m not saying there won’t be pain. I’m not saying there won’t be days that are hard. The joy of Christ carries us through those days–we feel them, they’re real, but we are not overcome by them.
If you would like to join in, the rules are simple. Link up an encouraging post about marriage with the direct url to the post. Next week’s word is “Kind-Hearted.” Join us then for more Marriage Monday!