How? How can you experience joy when you feel like there is absolutely no reason to hold out hope for your marriage? When you’re struggling in misery, and it seems you’re trapped in a cycle of hurt and injury that creates more hurt and injury?
That’s exactly where we were for the first fifteen years of our marriage.
LeRoy and I have learned, though, that joy can be found in the most horrific of seasons.
There is an uncanny and even indescribable joy in the presence of Christ. Literally. Meeting with Him daily, in the pain, in the suffering—whether that suffering comes from the misery caused by a dysfunctional marriage relationship, or from the misery of long-term illness—joy can be experienced in the midst of the mess.
We’ve found that these words from the Psalmist hold true:
“You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” (Psalm 16:11)
And that is why James can urge his readers to embrace joy—even while enduring persecution for their faith:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds . . .” (James 1:2)
With the trial comes the opportunity to seek the Lord’s protection, to turn to Him for refuge, to trust Him as never before. And as He is faithful to pour out His grace and be our stronghold—that is where we find joy.
Joy that is real, lasting, deep, abiding, and abundant, can actually occur when walking through trials.
Today, LeRoy and I are in a much different season of pain than when we were hopeless and miserable in our marriage. I told someone the other day, “I can’t imagine, if God had not brought healing to our relationship, how our marriage could’ve survived these years of LeRoy’s illness.
It seems a very long time ago that LeRoy and I sat down with Jim Daly and John Fuller for the first time to share our story at Focus on the Family. Things look much different today than they did then. But, just as God reached down to meet with us in our pain during that season, He is meeting with us today in the pain of this season. And there is much joy in abiding in His abundant presence.
If you’d like to listen to that Focus on the Family broadcast that was originally aired in 2015, you can hear the first part today and the conclusion tomorrow. I encourage you to share the link with loved ones who may have given up hope for their marriage!
Click here to find their video version of our interview with them Loving and Leading Your Strong Woman from 2017.