Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Her Happiness Gives Joy to Me

Today I was riding home with some friends when one of them asked me, "Do you have days where you just can't wait to get home and see your wife, like more than usual?" As I thought more about it, it dawned on me that my answer has to be, "No." I am pretty much equally excited every day to see my lovely wife. It just so happens that my friend's question was asked the day after I broke into my newest prized possession - the Autobiography of George Muller: A Million and a Half in Answer to Prayer. Why is that significant? Because George Muller wrote about the exact same thing my friend asked, and I just read that part of the book last night.

When Muller's wife died, he preached her funeral sermon. His first point was that God was good in giving her to him. Under that heading, he preached the following: "And were we happy? Verily we were. With every year our happiness increased more and more. I never saw my beloved wife at any time, when I met her unexpectedly anywhere in Bristol, without being delighted so to do. I never met her even in the Orphan Houses, without my heart being delighted so to do... Thousands of times I told her, 'My darling, I never saw you at any time since you became my wife, without my being delighted to see you.' This was not only our way in the first year of our marriage union, nor in the tenth, in the twentieth, and in the thirtieth year, but also in the fortieth year of our conjugal life... Our happiness in God, and in each other, was indescribable. We had not some happy days every year, nor a month of happiness every year; but we had twelve months of happiness in the year, and thus year after year."

Maybe I'm just particularly blessed by God, but I can absolutely sympathize with Muller. I quote that line to Amanda all the time, "There's never a time that I'm not delighted to see you, Dear." She knows the quote and smiles when I say it. Of course, there are times when it's really good to see your wife. Maybe after a long day at work, or coming home from a trip. But overall, I can't imagine not being excited to walk in and see my darling wife at the sink, or coming out of the bedroom, or playing catch in the yard. Every time I see her, I am shocked all over again at how lovely she is, and I stare at her as though it were the first time I'd seen her. I never get tired of her. There are times when such attention becomes burdensome to her, and I have to be careful not to try to bind her to myself through my attraction to her. But most of the time, she indulges my doting with some return of kindness.

One would think that such a happiness in a wife would make a man insecure. If such a wife makes her husband so happy, surely he must be terrified of losing her. And if he did lose her, he'd likely be devastated beyond any hope of repair. That's not what happened with Muller at all. The final point of Muller's funeral sermon was that God was good in taking Muller's wife from him. "While I'm saying this, I feel the void in my heart. That lovely one is no more with me, to share my joys and sorrows. Every day I miss her more and more. Every day I see more and more how great her loss to the Orphans. Yet, without an effort, my inmost soul habitually joys in the joy of that loved departed one. Her happiness gives joy to me."

Muller's love for his wife, and delight in her, overflowed in peace at her death because he realized how happy she was in Heaven, at the right hand of her Savior who lived and died for her; and Muller was happy at her happiness. That is the essence of virtuous love - pursuing happiness in the godly happiness of others. Muller loved his wife more than he loved himself. So when she died, rather than becoming a basket-case, he rested in her eternal joy. And that comforted him. May God grant all of his married children a heart like Muller - a heart that is delighted with the spouse God gave, and a heart that pursues pleasure in the pleasure of another.

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