My friend, Margaret Feinberg, has a powerful story of finding joy in the most unlikely of circumstances. Her new book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy, just released—and it’s the most vulnerable and shocking she’s ever penned.
I invited her to share a bit of her journey with you.
Troy’s daughter is a sparkling six-year-old ball of hilarity. She bubbles with delight. One night for evening prayers, she petitioned:
“God, tomorrow, may we have gladness and get the energy up.”
Who prays like that? Troy wondered.
Perhaps we all should.
With striking innocence, this precious child was praying for more joy. She asked God to shower her family with cheer and laughter.
Troy wasn’t the only one smiling at his daughter’s prayer. I suspect God was, too.
When was the last time you prayed for God to give you more joy?
If you’re like me, you may be hesitant to pray for joy, because, well, it can feel a little self-indulgent. Most of us wouldn’t think twice about praying to become more holy or righteous, but asking for joy can feel hedonistic. Yet I believe God takes delight when we abound in joy, because He is the source of all joy.
Psalm 16:11 declares, “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever more.”
In alluding to God’s right hand, the author is anthropomorphizing God (giving him human-like characteristics). The right hand signifies power throughout Scripture. Jesus is seated at God’s right hand (Col 3:1; Acts 2:33). True joy and pleasure are found in Christ.
The Psalmists reveal that the quest for joy is not just an option made available to us but something we’re commanded to pursue.
We are called to seek and obey God, but we also created to enjoy God and partake in the most satisfying pleasure imaginable found in Him. We are meant to live in such a way that God’s pleasure becomes second nature.
Joy is the hearty echo of God’s great love for us.
Two years before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I became obsessed with the more than 400 references of joy in Scripture. Two weeks away from turning in a book on joy, I received the phone call that changed my life forever.
I had to scrap the entire project because I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly talk about something as fluffy as joy in the midst of the darkness I felt. Up until that time, I had been searching for joy in the relatively good times of life. But, after cancer, I read the same Scriptures different.
I discovered facets of joy that no one ever taught me:
More than whimsy, joy is a weapon we can use to fight life’s battles.
The thing is, no one signs up for that discovery project—finding joy in suffering. No one. I’ve never felt so surefooted on my path to a joyful life. I know now that without shadows, joy can feel shallow. But, when we can discover joy while in the fight of our lives—no matter what that is—it is lasting.
Everyone who has faced a challenge, or who knows someone in the midst, needs a to know that suffering doesn’t win. Joy wins.
My prayer is that this book and Bible study will be beacon for anyone searching for HOW to fight darkness.
My prayer is that this book and Bible study will be a beacon for anyone ABOUT to face a battle.
My prayer is that this book and Bible study will be a beacon for anyone IN the fight of their lives.
My prayer is that this book and Bible study will be a beacon for anyone who has crawled THROUGH the trenches.
Today, if your future feels flimsy, know that you are not alone. Even in this you can fight back with joy. You can pray like Troy’s daughter—and know God has something powerful He longs to give you.
Margaret Feinberg shares her harrowing journey in the book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy: Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears. You can learn more at www.margaretfeinberg.com. Follow her on Twitter @mafeinberg