New Joy Will Break You Out of Your Shell!

Earlier today I was reading a new manuscript by Jacqueline Varnedoe entitled Becoming Joy Carriers. This book will be published next month, and I hope all of you can read it. Nothing is needed more in today's chaotic world than a good dose of joy! Not only do we need to be filled with joy, but we need to carry joy!

Joy can be difficult to define. Joy is not a positive attitude or pleasant emotion. Joy is linked with delight. Joy is both an emotion and a fruit. Many levels of joy are also described in the Bible, including gladness, contentment, and cheerfulness. The joy which the people of God should have is pure. This joy rises above circumstances and focuses on the character of God who originates and emanates His emotion through us when we experience His will.

The joy experienced by a righteous child of God is produced by the Spirit of God, who is working all things together for our good. This joy causes us to see our future. This is what makes joy different from happiness and causes us to rise above sorrow and loss.

We go through so many adverse, trying times as we walk through this world that we need something to help remind us that the "joy of the Lord is our strength." If the enemy can remove your joy, he can remove your strength. Strength means the ability to withstand our next attack. Therefore, maintaining strength is key to our Spirit-filled life.

When the second of our twins died, we had an outdoor memorial service for him. During that service, Pam stood up and sang a beautiful song out over the field where they were interred. It was an incredible moment. One week after the death of the second baby, a friend called and said she had a real problem with the fact that God had allowed their deaths. She was also having a problem with how Pam was dealing with this trauma-with seemingly unshakable faith. One of the most impacting things I have ever heard anyone speak came from my wife's mouth on that day. Pam told our friend, "If there's one thing I've learned in my life, it's that the quicker I submit to the hand of God, the quicker I can resist the devil. I have chosen to submit to God's hand in this circumstance. And in submitting to the hand of God, He will give me the ability to overcome the enemy so that the double portion that has been robbed will be returned."

The Lord was speaking through my wife. Those words went deeply into my spirit, and I have carried them since that time. Even when we don't understand what has happened in our lives, in the midst of our loss and resulting grief, we need to learn to submit quickly to God's greater plan for our lives. When we submit, we stand under. The concept of submitting is the act of allowing the wing of His goodness and grace to spread over us and shelter us from the accusatory thoughts of the enemy, the fray of the world, and the condemnation of our own mistakes. If we always submit our lives to God, then we can resist the roadblocks in our destined path. Truly, we would learn that loss has great benefit when we submit. We should allow God to work our situations for good and respond to His love, no matter how difficult our circumstances may be. Loss can also turn into joy!

Pam and I both were able to recognize that even in the midst of the trauma of the loss of two children, God was working out a higher-level promise of restoration on our behalf. Loss can produce a great acknowledgement of God within us, if we submit to His hand.

The incredibly hard things that we go through will truly become some sort of blessing in the hand of the Lord, and will produce a greater prophetic fulfillment in our lives. Yes, a sad, bad, unbearable time can become a joy-filled moment when we place that moment in the hand of God and give Him thanks for the moment. Time then takes a turn. The harsh memory of pain from the loss of expected joy can now be redeemed. That situation can become a transforming work of grace that can be seen in you for a lifetime.

There is a certain level of joy that we would never come to know if we did not experience loss. The deeper the sorrow, the more capacity for joy we seem to have. After experiencing loss, nothing seems the same. The Bible is full of references about mourning turned to joy. A few examples are:

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. . . . You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness (Ps. 30:5,11).

As the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor (Esther 9:22).

For I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow
(Jer. 31:13).

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isa. 61:3).

John 16:16-23 is a beautiful passage in which Jesus prophecies His own death and resurrection. Verses 20-22 speak directly of the sorrow and joy that the disciples were about to experience:
Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

Sorrow and joy are firmly linked. Perhaps it is because the deeper we experience sorrow, the more capacity we have for joy. I suppose it is similar to hunger. The hungrier we are, the more satisfying a good meal is to us. God knows this. Although we may only see the sorrow and tears of the night, He has planned a bright and beautiful morning full of joy. Pam and I are so aware of this principle that we chose to put John 16:22 (previously quoted) on the headstone of our twin sons, knowing that one day our sorrow would turn to joy that no one could take from us.

One reason God may have for bringing joy after a season of sorrow is to bring a new wind of strength to our spirits. Grieving robs strength. There is a weakness that comes from such an emotional and spiritual load. But God knows that joy brings a new vitality and strength, "for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10). Joy produces the kind of strength we need to move into our next season.

Like the disciples at the crucifixion of Jesus, we may go through intense, and even confusing, losses. But, like the disciples at His resurrection, great joy awaits us that no one will be able to take away.

"Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit" (Ps. 51:12). Our enemy longs to rob us of our joy and get us out of the salvation process. That does not mean that he can steal our salvation by robbing our joy, but he can steer us away from the forgiveness, healing, prosperity and restoration that are by-products of our salvation. His strategy, many times, is the same one he used on King David: he causes us to sin. Nothing will rob us of the joy of the Lord as effectively as sin in our lives.

But these are days in which God is longing to restore joy to His people through deeper levels of repentance. In repairing the breaches that sin has caused, God is able to restore joy. Proverbs 17:22 says,
"A merry heart does good, like medicine." Joy works like a medicine and brings healing to our bones. That is why Scripture says that the joy of the Lord is our strength (see Neh. 8:10); it brings with it the power to heal and maintain the health God has for us.

Even though David sinned and lost his joy, we see from Psalm 51 that he was able to ask the Lord to restore that joy to him. Through the blood of Christ, we are positioned with even greater favor than King David had to ask the Lord to forgive our transgressions and restore the joy of our salvation.

My prayer is that you will be filled with restoration, victory, and healing! Become the joy carrier you were destined to be! Enter into a new dimension of joy until you break out of your shell!


Chuck D. Pierce

Glory of Zion Ministries