Why process life – and marriage – through the lens of suffering when we have something better instead? Jesus processed life through Joy and it gave Him strength! (Hebrews 12:2)
I write a lot. Much is actually handwritten. So recently I ordered several journals from Amazon. My favorite has a watercolor painting of a hummingbird. Something stirred in me when I saw it, so I went to Google and learned that, in some cultures and religions, the hummingbird is a symbol of resurrection and joy. Who knew?
Life is hard – to be sure.
Like you, I’ve been facing some pretty tough challenges these past few years – and still am. Not that life was a piece of cake prior, of course. And if you’ve read my story, you know that already.
As we each process all that’s happening around us and around the world, we have a choice to make. It’s simple really. I must choose – each day – between death and life:
- I can process life through the lens of Suffering.
- Or I can process life through the lens of Joy.
Suffering is a given.
But how we process it makes a HUGE difference in how we experience Life and Love and God. Here are a couple of not-so-productive ways to look at suffering.
It means I’m bad. When we focus on suffering, we open the door to shame.
God is displeased with me. I must work harder to improve my behavior if I want a good outcome – in this life and the one hereafter. God helps those who help themselves.
We know that’s not God’s perspective. But we often think, feel, and act like it is. Very sad.
It means I’m good. Or focus on suffering can turn me into a self-righteous martyr.
How good of me to suffer with the likes of you. You’re so lucky to have a great Christian wife like me. It’s okay because I’m earning stars in my crown by putting up with your faults.
Yep. When I “benefit” from adversity in that way, I rarely – if ever – make progress. And life continues to go downhill – with my willful participation!
- I give in to negativity.
- And I give up on fulfilling the call the Lord has upon my life.
When I focus on Jesus instead …
I can’t help but be joyful. Joy is the one emotion that lasts throughout eternity. So why don’t we practice it more in the here-and-now?
Because we are bombarded with negativity. Much of it comes from within our own camp. Just this morning, I received this word of inspiration by email:
Your marriage is a tool and a test to deepen and demonstrate your love and reverence for Jesus Christ. God is using your spouse to bring you an eternal reward.
I actually disagree with this way of looking at marriage. This point of view keeps us sin-focused – on our own sin, as well as our partner’s sin. It’s like trying to walk forward while looking behind you all the time. You’re bound to trip and stumble. And your reward is only available in the hereafter?
Instead, let’s focus on learning to walk in the Newness of Life in Christ!
Simply put, Marriage is a place to practice the Joy of the Lord. To see another person as God sees him. And to love him accordingly! Two simple steps:
- Focus on the marriage you want to create.
- Keep moving forward with your heart and your eyes fixed on Jesus.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Your spouse is the primary recipient of who you are. Let him reap all the benefits of your Joy in the Lord! Let Joy Be Your Reason for Living in Love!
Question: What is the biggest challenge you face in loving your mate? Share your answer in the comments box below.