If I (Steve) were to guess, I’d say that about 99 per cent of us, when we got married, believed that God wanted us to be “happy” in our marriages. That would seem only natural to us. But as Cindy and I came to realize through our years of marriage, and studying God’s word, that is not God’s primary desire for us.
In this Marriage Insight we’re going to share some challenging thoughts on this from one of our favorite authors, Gary Thomas. These thoughts come from a recent 2-day Focus on the Family broadcast titled, “Embracing God’s Desire for Your Marriage.”
So how do we achieve happiness?
Here’s what Gary (and we) believe:
“God presents that holiness is the doorway to happiness. By pursuing holiness we arrive at happiness. When we don’t recognize the challenges of marriage that are designed to help us grow in holiness, then we undercut our own satisfaction with our marriage. We become frustrated with our marriage because we’re looking for something that God didn’t create marriage to give.
“…I believe in every aspect of marriage, there’s the invitation to become more like Christ. The problem is that we have to accept that as one of the purposes of marriage. I got married for an entirely opposite reason. I wanted somebody to love and to appreciate me. And I wanted somebody to serve me. I’m embarrassed to say that. It wasn’t until I began to understand that marriage is about becoming, that I really began to get a feel for why God created marriage and what it could do. …We lose the whole emphasis that marriage can call us to become more like Jesus Christ.”
Gary also admits becoming more “Christ-like” isn’t easy.
“Two people building a family together, building a marriage together, conquering their selfishness, conquering their fears, opening up to intimacy and then becoming one, is a glorious, wonderful thing. But it’s not easy. We have to die to the sin that pushes us apart. We have to die to addictions, because we’ll cherish the addictions instead of each other. And we have to learn to be understanding and want to serve each other.
“None of us do any of that naturally. That’s supernatural. But if we know it’s difficult going in, then when we start to sweat, get frustrated, and when we start to get tired, instead of freaking out, we just double down. This is the road I have to travel to get to a really good place.”
Here’s something else that Gary said worth noting:
“Most of us get married for the times of joy and celebration. Those ARE wonderful parts of marriage. But there are other seasons of marriage, that while I would never choose and I won’t enjoy them, there are lessons to be learned. God is revealing Himself, and strengthening us. He’s taking us through a process and He’s helping us.
“One of my favorite verses on marriage comes from this idea, 2 Thessalonians 3:5, ‘May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.‘ Think about how Christ had to persevere. He was always misunderstood. His family misunderstood Him. His disciples misunderstood Him. The Pharisees misunderstood Him. Pilate and Herod misunderstood Him. Even John the Baptist said, ‘Are you really who I think You were?‘ Even John the Baptist, His closest one misunderstood Him and yet, Christ persevered.”
In marriage, there WILL be tough times. But, as Gary said:
“…My marriage changed when I realized that marriage was a place where my sin could be crucified. It really comes down to this. We can choose to let sin tear apart our marriages or we can use our marriages to tear apart our sin.”
To that, Cindy and I say a hearty AMEN!
To listen to, or read the rest of the transcripts for the before mentioned April 11 and 12, 2016 Focus on the Family broadcasts with Gary Thomas, please go to:
If you apply these principles to your marriage we believe with our whole hearts that you will discover what “true happiness” is all about.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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