Devotion #190

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4 ESV

Perfect and complete. It’s the feeling that nothing is missing from your life, nothing is broken, nothing is hurting. You have everything that matters, your heart is fulfilled, you long for nothing. We know in those perfect moments, we find joy. We’ve all been there at one point or another in our relationship—the proposal, the wedding day, the honeymoon, the birth of a child—we can feel as if we have everything we need. All our expectations are met, life is perfect.

The problem is those moments are fleeting. More often, our focus is on what’s missing from our marriage, how our expectations are not being met, how we long to have something different. Many of us enter marriage holding on to the fairy tale. We believe marriage will solve all of our problems, our spouse will meet our needs, and we will live happily ever after. We think perfect and complete is life going according to our plan, and when we’re disillusioned by the failure, we want to walk away. What we fail to recognize is that perfection is in that struggle, that feeling of completeness that we long for is in the failure.

The trials will bring us joy if we choose to stay under them instead of walking away. You see, our vision of a perfect marriage is designed by a self-focused world. We think we’ve made it when our spouse is serving all of our needs, behaving the way we want them to, meeting our expectations. God designed marriage as a way to chisel away at the self-centered nature of our hearts. His desire is for us to love others as ourselves. He wants us to put the needs of our spouses before our own instead of demanding our needs are met. 

But there is struggle in that change of perspective. It’s not going to be easy to lay down what we want and pick up what He wants. Our hearts will fight to let go of our priorities and conflict will be created. It’s in those challenges that we will find perfection, completion, and even joy if we learn to lay down what we want and open our eyes to that fact that God has already given us everything that matters. He has given us life and He has given us unconditional and unending love. There is such freedom in releasing our expectations of others and learning to love them as God loves them, in their current state of brokenness—know that unconditional love in those moments is what brings about transformation and growth. God has already given us this ability to remain steady and love under pressure, to remain confident in faith, to know perfection and joy.

The worst decision you’ll ever make is to walk way. God intends for the challenges you face to transform your conduct and your character. When you persevere under pressure, when you endure the trials, when you choose patience and humble your heart in a marriage rife with conflict, you will find a marriage perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Press on—you are loved. 💗

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