I’m always intrigued by oxymorons. You probably know what these are—when two seemingly opposite things are put together to make something memorable. Like a fine mess, or deafening silence, or seriously funny. Or defiant joy.
Usually “joy” is paired with descriptives like pleasurable, or bubbly, or uncontainable. But “defiant”? Stasi Eldredge makes the case that we need to fight to hang on to joy—that our pursuit of joy against all odds should be, as her book is entitled, Defiant Joy.
Stasi shares many of her painful life lessons that led her to the conclusion that joy has to be clung to tenaciously or it can be stripped away quickly. Defiantly clinging to joy doesn’t mean a bury-your-head-in-the-sand denial view of life. It is facing the challenges squarely and honestly, and still recognizing that the joy Jesus gives is greater than those circumstances.
In fact, one of the first quotes Stasi shares in her book is this truism from C.S. Lewis: “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” Talk about a powerful oxymoron!
I so appreciate the transparency and candor Stasi exhibits as she pulls back the curtains of her own battles for joy. She honestly shares her darker moments with us, tells us where she’s still working, where’s she had breakthroughs, and the applicable lessons we can all use.
I’m sure everyone one of us will have to face joy-threatening circumstances. The principles in Defiant Joy will help you overcome those circumstances while still tenaciously clinging to joy. Read this book for yourself or read it with a friend going through a difficult time. You’ll be glad you did.
I’m a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.
John Piper said, “We were made to live with God as the all-satisfying center of our lives, with everything else in good, godly, happy orbit. Instead, we have a solar system with competing gravitational centers, and nothing else flying in its right orbit.”
In Psalm 16:11 David wrote, “In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Lasting joy and guilt-free pleasure are found in God’s presence. If He is the “sun” of our universe, everything else stays in its proper “orbit.” How do we make sure God is our sun? The first phrase in Psalm 16:11 is the key: “You make known to me the path of life.”
Did you catch that? Not only is God the sun-center of our universe, but He tells us when our sun-center has become (or is becoming) something other than Himself. That’s why David also prayed, “Search me, O God,” and why Paul told us to regularly examine ourselves.
But the key question for Christians comes down to this—Do others know that you know that God is for you?
You see, God is for you because God is joyful and happy, and He wants you to not only know this but to radiate this joy and happiness to those around you.
Here’s how it works:
(1) Joy is an inside job. The dictionary defines joy as “a feeling of great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” When we know by our personal experience with Him how good God is, joy is birthed in our heart as we see Him as All-Good and All-Satisfying.
(2) Joy is regardless of my external circumstances. Some people try to pursue happiness apart from joy. Trying to get happy without having the foundation of joy is like having a flower that has been picked from the plant. Happiness may be pretty for a short while, but it is already fading because it is completely dependent on the environment around it. True happiness isn’t dependent on external circumstances because it is rooted in something far greater.
(3) Knowing God’s favor fuels our joy. There is a Hebrew word for know which means “knowledge through intimate, personal experience.” Psalm 100 describes happy people and their joyful praise. Their joy comes from this: They know that their Lord is God and that He is good. This joy comes from seeing and savoring God’s favor.
(4) Our internal joy should bubble up into external happiness. All throughout the Bible we read how those who are filled with joy as they get to know this exceptionally good, all-satisfying God cannot help but burst out in songs of happy praise (see Psalm 28:7 and Luke 10:21).
(5) Our external happiness becomes our testimony. In Psalm 126 we read that God’s people who were full of God’s joy burst out into happy praise. When they did the people around them recognized that God had done great things for them.
Check this out—
“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that to be a Christian and to be unhappy is a sin. An unhappy Christian gives God no praise, robs Him of glory, and paints God in a bad light. A happy Christian knows the Lord is his strength, his comfort, his supply. The happy Christian lifts God high and invites others to know this All-Good, All-Happy God too!” —Craig T. Owens
So let me ask you again: If you call yourself a Christian, do people know that you know that God is for you? Are you making God look All-Good and All-Satisfying by your deeply fueled joy and your face-brightening happiness?
What a testimony it is when God’s people are happy in Him!
If you have missed any of my other teachings about God’s favor, be sure to check them out:
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray (Psalm 5:1-2).
Where does his confidence come from? From these two truths about the nature of God:
David didn’t take the condition of his soul for granted (v. 5), but he came quickly into God’s presence because he knew of God’s mercy to forgive.
Not only was David confident that God would hear his prayer, but he also eagerly anticipated receiving…
If you want confidence in your earthly leadership, do what David modeled: Enter God’s presence quickly and confidently, and then eagerly anticipate what God is going to do!
This is Part 16 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.
Praise is awaiting You, O God… (Psalm 65:1).
There is no like You, O God!
This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.
Do You Think Life Is A Drudgery?
God made man a mixture of dust and Deity—“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The dust of a man’s body is his glory, not his shame. …
Drudgery is the outcome of sin, but it has no right to be the rule of life. It becomes the rule of life because we ignore the fact that the dust of the earth belongs to God, and that man’s chief end is to glorify God. Unless we can maintain the presence of Divinity in our dust, life becomes a miserable drudgery. If a man lives in order to hoard up the means of living, he does not live at all, he has no time to, he is taken up with one form of drudgery or another to keep things going. …
The wisdom of today concerns itself chiefly with the origin of things and not with God, consequently neither the philosopher nor the mystic has time for actual life.
From Shade Of His Hand
God created us to enjoy life as we enjoy Him, enjoy His creation, and enjoy doing what He has created us to do.
If you find life toilsome, burdensome or a downright drudgery, can I suggest one simple question: How is your relationship with God?
If you truly ask Him, God will show you how to live a life filled with JOY!
“Faith is not content with ‘fleeting pleasures.’ It is ravenous for joy. And the Word of God says, ‘In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11). So faith will not be sidetracked into sin. It will not give up so easily in its quest for maximum joy.
“The role of God’s Word is to feed faith’s appetite for God. And, in doing this, it weans my heart away from the deceptive taste of lust.
“At first, lust begins to trick me into feeling that I would really miss out on some great satisfaction if I followed the path of purity. But then I take up the sword of the Spirit and begin to fight. …
“As I pray for my faith to be satisfied with God’s life and peace, the sword of the Spirit carves the sugar coating off the poison of lust. I see it for what it is. And by the grace of God, its alluring power is broken.” —John Piper
“The question, then, isn’t, ‘when am I going to get promoted?’ No, I think the question is, ‘will I grab these openings to become someone who’s already doing work at a higher level?’” Read more from Seth Godin’s post.
“Faith is not a distant view but a warm embrace of Christ.” —John Calvin
“The honest truth is that I have seen God do more in people’s lives during ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons.” Read more of Jim Cymbala’s post The Day Jesus Got Mad.
“Success is a tale of obstacles overcome, and for every obstacle overcome, an excuse not used.” —Robert Brault
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.” —Goethe
“The good news of the Bible is that God is not at all disinclined to satisfy the hearts of those who hope in Him. Just the opposite: The very thing that can make us happiest is what God delights in with all His heart and with all His soul. With all His heart and with all His soul, God joins us in the pursuit of our everlasting joy because the consummation of that joy in Him redounds to the glory of His own infinite worth.” —John Piper
You may need to bookmark this: 15 Scriptures on starting over.
60+ eminent legal scholars call on elected officials to not recognize the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision on homosexual “marriage.”
Another place to reject culture’s language is on the issue of abortion.
Jeff Jacoby has an important look at Christopher Columbus.
John Maxwell says, “Most teams don’t naturally get better on their own. Left alone, they don’t grow, improve, or reach championship caliber. Instead, they tend to wind down.” Read more in 4 leadership styles that trigger peak performance.
“There are some things which I feel I might do, as far as I am concerned, which I believe I might do without suffering any personal hurt, but which I would not do for your sakes and which I dare not do for the sake of many who would take license from my example to do a great deal more than I would do, and would make me the horse on which they would put the saddle of their sin. … The ill example of a Christian is ten times worse than that of one who is not a Christian, for if I see a sinner commit sin, his example is poison, but it is labelled. The inconsistent life of a Christian is unlabelled poison, and I am very likely to be injured by it.” —Charles Spurgeon
“There are a thousand passages, and a thousand testimonies, all bearing on the one Cross, the one propitiation, the one Lamb of God, the one blood, the one sacrifice. Any one of these testimonies in the hand of the Holy Spirit can pour in gladness into the soul. … Gloom dishonors God; joy honors Him. It speaks well of Him, and shows man what a God of goodness and grace He is.” —Horatius Bonar