Do you ever feel like joy is just out of reach?
That’s why I spent more than a year diving into the more than 400 references to joy, happiness, merriment, delight, pleasure, dancing, rejoicing and more throughout the Scripture. I discovered joy is so much more than anyone taught me. Joy is a spectrum of emotions, responses, and reactions. Sometimes you feel like a joy; sometimes you don’t. But you can always act in joy even when your emotions shout otherwise.
In Fight Back With Joy book and Bible study, I explore how more than whimsy joy is the weapon we use to fight life’s battles. In the reading for Day 31 of the #LentChallenge, (download the free reading guide here), we discover Jesus poking holes in the darkness as He fights back with joy in the most unsuspecting ways.
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In John 3, a religious leader named Nicodemus takes back alleys to converse with Jesus. Amidst the shadows of darkness, he approaches the Son of God at night.
Jesus doesn’t shrug a shoulder or turn away. Instead, Jesus pierces through this man’s dusky thinking to reveal true light.
Nicodemus shady approach results in one of the most celebrated and boldest declarations in all the Gospels:
In God’s divine affection for His creation, He dispatched His only child to enter this earthly ruckus and rubble. That tall and short, chubby and thin, feisty and filthy, breathtaking and broken—all, yes, all—who believe in Him would trade mortality for eternal life.
Darkness runs whenever Jesus comes.
Thanks to Nicodemus, we discover the joy that comes with honest inquiry.
John soon appears—the forerunner known for dunking and splashing and splattering and immersing. The one with the prunish fingers and toes from years of baptizing men, women, young, and old into the depths of repentance.
When asked of Jesus, John replies, “This joy of mine has been made full. He must increase but I must decrease.”
Thanks to John, we discover the joy that comes with obedience to Christ.
Then the scuttlebutt of the town, a Samaritan woman, approaches the well during the low traffic time. Jesus asks for a gulp of water and the conversation uncovers the secret to slurping that eliminates thirst forever. Undone by the man who identifies Himself with “I am,” she becomes the first evangelist—a woman no less.
Thanks to a nameless woman from Samaria, we discover the joy that comes with rescuing and sharing grand news.
As if Jesus hadn’t tossed enough joy bombs, He ignites one more for a royal uppity whose son is gravely ill. With four syllables, “Go, your son lives,” the man’s life, along with the son, is transformed forever. The celebration in their house could be heard throughout the entire neighborhood.
Thanks to a brave man, we discover the joy that comes with knowing the One who travels with healing in His wings.
Throughout John 3-4, we see God’s fierce love on display through—welcoming, answering, obeying, rescuing, sharing, and healing.
What do I most need to read but least want to hear?
My joy quotient is still far too low. I’m still not walking in the fullness, eyes-wide-open, to Jesus and the kingdom He’s ushered in and wants to usher in through me.
Father, awaken my heart to the fullness of your joy. Like you, may I be a Joy Warrior, and punch holes in the darkness until it bleeds light—even today. Amen.
What do you most need to read but least want to hear?