“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” ~ Galatians 5:22 NIV
As Christians, all of us have the Holy Spirit of Christ living in us and His power available to us. If we are fully surrendered to Him, there should be evidence of it, and one of the most obvious signs is the presence of the fruit of the Spirit. Last month, we talked about the fruit of LOVE being evident in our marriages. This month let’s talk about JOY.
C.S. Lewis wrote a whole book called Surprised By Joy– if you haven’t read it yet, do so quickly! This is a quote from him: “The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting.” Sounds a lot like Paul in Philippians 4:12: Whether in much (having) or plenty (wanting), I’ve learned to be content.
I like Kay Warren’s definition too: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” Have you been in an “ultimately” situation? But somehow you were peaceful? That’s God’s fruit, joy.
I’ve always had in my mind that “joy” is a deeper feeling than “happiness;” whereas your circumstances create happiness, your attitude creates joy, regardless or even in spite of your circumstances. Sometimes when the Bible speaks of joy, it’s in the normal use of the word– happiness, elation, celebration: Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness. Isaiah 35:10
But there are lots of verses where circumstances are bad, but joy is still present. Aching hearts… poverty… severe suffering… troubles… Sound familiar?
- Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 2 Corinthians 6:10
- … in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:6
- Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2
If happiness is a rushing stream, joy is a serene lake.
If happiness is the exuberant burst of colors in spring, joy is the still, calm beauty of a gray winter day.
If happiness is the freedom of a motorcycle ride on a bright sunny day, joy is taking care of your husband after the accident, and knowing that you will always be there for one another.
I remember so much happiness over our 32+ years of married life– buying our houses; the births, graduations, and marriages of our children; both of our college graduations; and so many more. But there have been so many instances where the joy of the Lord saw us through, too. My mother’s illness and death. Surgeries and hospitalizations of ourselves and loved ones. A devastating hurricane. The difficult seasons common to every marriage.
If you are in a difficult season in your marriage, I pray that you will hold fast to God’s promises, obey His Word, and rest in His joy.