Tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, and wars have entered our living rooms via the prime-time news. Other atrocities in our world do not just occur; they are instigated. Terrorists, whether international or local, seem to reign supreme and avoid justice.
Our children hear of murders, rape, and illicit lifestyles. At school, they have friends who not only do drugs, but they also overdose on them. Where is the innocent childhood that many of us knew? How can we grow joy in our families when the world has become such a terrible place?
Laugh on purpose.
A friend of ours has not been able to work for many years. His physical problems make it extremely difficult to walk; he lives with wretched pain that is relieved only with prescription-strength painkillers. He recently bought a bright red motorized scooter so that he could go with his wife who rides her new birthday-present bicycle. "For my wife's sake, I try to start each day with laughter," he told us. "Things don't seem so bad when we can laugh together."
When the atmosphere in my childhood home became too serious, my father would say, "Let's laugh!" Dad had hoped to be a comedian when he was young and could begin laughing from scratch. His hearty, "Ha-ha!" soon had us laughing at his silliness, and before we knew it tears of laughter ran down all of our faces. It seemed kind of silly then, but it lifted our low spirits, and we always felt better after a good laugh.
If laughing on purpose seems ridiculous, why not reminisce on God's goodness to you individually, as a couple, and as a family?
Perhaps your family life has gone drastically wrong in the past, but you are still a family, and God is helping each of you grow in Him. Or perhaps you are single again, but God's blessing is still with you in many other ways. With a little effort on the part of each of us, our home can become a more joyful place.
Spend time together as a family.
Rev. Steve Stewart said, "Happiness is based on circumstances; joy is based on relationship." Our relationship with God is most important. However, relating with one another in the family is important, too. If the TV dominates our home life, we won't know one another or develop the joy of interpersonal relationships.
Play a board game with the kids. Watch a funny movie. Go to the park or the zoo. Attend all of your child's sports events and have a hot dog afterward. Sharing in each other's life events brings joyful interaction.
God desires "that [His] joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11, NIV). With less difficulty than we thought--by loving one another, loving God, and asking Him for His help--we can grow joy at home.