“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” (James 1:2)
When someone is about go through a big moment in his/her life, such as getting married, becoming a parent, or having a death in the family, other people tend to want to offer a little piece of their advice. But lately I noticed that, however well-meaning these advice-givers are, many people, even Christians, use certain fashionable sayings that come from unbiblical worldviews that pretend to play god by predicting a gloomy future (vs. Matthew 6:34) as if that would be good “advice.” Because I’m becoming a parent soon, I sometimes hear a kind of ill-advised advice from some friends which I call that the “no more freedom” syndrome……
When a guy is about to get married, he gets thrown a bachelor’s party, which is also popularly known as the “last night of freedom.” But what is “freedom”? Is it having an orgy of booze and some teasing in a party? Is it free from being told what to do? I remember the night before my wedding, I bought into this lie and I went out and drove around to try to “enjoy the last time I can feel like I manage my own life.” But after almost 7 years of marriage now, I feel much more free today, because my wife helps me discovers myself so much more than I could by myself. And I had the joy of uncovering the treasures of her personality and her life. We both enriched each other intellectually, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s sad that the American society bought into the idea that marriage bounds people up. I cringe every time I hear “jokes” about killing one’s wife.
Another thing that Wendy and I hear a lot these days have to do with “advice” for Wendy’s pregnancy. When Wendy first got pregnant, someone asked me, “Congratulations! Where are you going to vacation?” Vacation and pregnancy sound unrelated, but some people believe that having a child is the end of your freedom (sounds familiar?), so they would start planning to take a cruise or go to Hong Kong during the middle of pregnancy. Or a few weeks ago, someone asks me, “Are you two going to go to theater and watch a last movie together?” and “Have a nice dinner together ’cause you’re not going to have that kind of time.” Last December, we went to a friend’s baby shower at a church, and we were horrified that during the baby shower all the people were giving her that kind of advice plus sayings like “It’s going to be painful!” or “Bringing up a baby is lots of hard work” etc. without ever mentioning Godn or any biblical advice at all.
It is sometimes so easy to give that kind of “advice” and rob people of the joy of marriage and pregnancy and parenting. However, Wendy and I believe that people who believe in this kind of advice or worldview is missing out on God’s blessings and joy. A lot of people don’t understand joy. Joy never comes without a price, but joy comes from enduring trials (James 1:2). No one says marriage is easy, but those who endure the bumps in marriage will come out with greater joy of sharing a life together. No one says pregnancy will be easy, but the hardships makes love and life so much more precious, and we can appreciate God’s miraculous creation so much more. No one says parenting will be easy, but a diamond is discovered in the rough, and the smelly diapers are God’s way of telling us that our kid’s digestive system works, and the kid’s bad behaviors are ways of testing the limits of our love and to show us that we all are sinners needing God. There’s so much joy and learning and spiritual implications in our present and upcoming trials that I would not want to miss one second of that.
I want to conclude with a verse in the biblical account of Job that really touched me:
“…. it is still my consolation,
And I rejoice in unsparing pain,
That I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” (Job 6:10)