Marriage is a physical, emotional and spiritual journey. God uses an imperfect human being to work life into us. In some instances, God uses our men to show us His attributes: kindness, selflessness, bravery, power. And in other circumstances, He uses pain, unmet expectations and disappointment to show us that our dependence can only be in Him. We also get a much clearer picture of our need for grace as we get many glimpses into our own shortcomings as well the parameters and conditions in those we love. There are times when the peaceful union of two sinful people seems impossible.
God has an interesting way of using our lowest moments to speak the clearest. When we realize that, in our own strength, we cannot do this, He shows up in astounding ways. Marriage becomes a massive tool of sanctification. And to have any hope of doing this thing well, we need His perspective on life, love and duty. It is an awesome avenue for learning to follow the way of our Servant King. As we give and learn to love unconditionally, the Holy Spirit does a quiet work in our being. As we learn to take each thought captive against the insanity that culture would have us believe about marriage, we are disarming our carnal nature and the Holy Spirit is free to mold and shape.
Much of the struggle is letting go of the illusion of control and getting our eyes off of what we think will bring us happiness. Happy is a fleeting emotion. Joy, on the other hand, is a fruit of the spirit and can be impervious to circumstance. Joy boldly states that when the storms come and when the waters rise, it will not be moved. This priceless fruit of the Spirit is unshakable because it rests outside of us. It is rooted in the One who holds eternity, the One whose hands we are graven upon and the One who ransomed us from the pit of destruction. Joy is an enduring reality that is only cultivated by strong winds and high seas.
Without the struggle, the true definition of joy cannot be known. You see, Joy is a decision that no matter what happens, God is good! God knows that He alone must be our need. Our fickle human emotions are not on His priority list and our sanctification is of much more value than our silly want lists. God is such a benevolent Father not to entreat our immediate gratification but to deal with what really matters – shaping our hearts for eternity.