Here is an amazing verse:
Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)
That is not only a command and a statement, but it is also a promise!
God is full of love, and He is also full of joy. Not only is He the greatest Lover, but He is also the most joyful Person in the universe. His love and His joy are woven together.
We tend to think that if we have joy, then we can love others. But I think it really works the other way around: if we love, then we can have joy. When we give to others, we gain joy.
The exhaling of love allows the inhaling of joy.
But there is more! I think there is something else involved in this giving and this joy—something that is very important but often overlooked:
Covenantal love is a decision to enjoy another person.
While godly love is a commitment to give, it is also a commitment to enjoy. Part of loving our spouses well is enjoying them–enjoying who they are. God does that for us, and we can do that for others. God delights in us, and we can choose to delight in others.
So I guess we can say that this, too, is a giving because we are giving the gift of enjoying. When someone enjoys who you are, isn’t that like a gift to you?
Very often, our joy in marriage is lacking because our commitment to enjoying our spouses is lacking. We think that enjoyment should simply come to us. It’s great when that happens, but sometimes we must make the decision—the determination even—to enjoy someone. After we take the challenge to enjoy, we can pray for eyes to see past faults and past behaviors to the core treasure of someone. We can pray to see more of what God sees and more of what God delights in.
Enjoying our spouse is part of our love. That is part of what we give. And when we give the way God does, then we have the joy that God has. Then we have the joy of the Lord as our strength.
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