Today I’m delighted to share the words of Lori Stanley Roeleveld!
Imagine receiving a wonderful gift and leaving it unopened on a shelf day after day after day.
Christians do that.
Most of us don’t even realize we’ve done it because the world, like a cruel stepmother in a fairytale, has lied about the gift our Father has bestowed on us. Have you ever had days when you felt like Cinderella? You know you have a place in this world. The father you lost was a nobleman. But right now, you’re stuck cleaning ashes off the hearth.
Life on this planet can be ugly, demanding, soul crushing, disheartening, and cruel. It hurts to be human. We’re soft and breakable. We lose heart. We live without joy.
The world believes we can be joyful only when we have everything we need and life is going right.
That’s a lie.
Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Every Jesus-follower has access to that fruit. It’s a gift from our Father. This gift can be a source of refreshment and restoration in the midst of tribulations.
Jesus-followers can be joyful amid destruction, devastation, dashed hopes, destroyed dreams, and even death. Joy is like a juicy pomegranate we can rip apart and feast upon when our souls are famished for beauty, hope, or encouragement.
But, like a hot item in an infomercial, joy is “even more”! Joy is also a tool at our fingertips. It can build bridges between lost souls. It can repair broken relationships. It can restore hope and heart.
Even more than a source of refreshment and a powerful tool, joy is also a weapon against the darkness. Satan seeks to destroy us—his revenge against a God who has left him out of the plan of redemption. When our laughter emerges from concentration camps, courtrooms, hospitals, shelters, or flood-ravaged towns, his plan is foiled, his power diminished, his imminent destruction re-proclaimed on the waves of our merriment.
Joy is a silver stake in Satan’s lifeless heart.
And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:9-11).
So, this is my word to you, loved ones, you hearth-cleaning, ash-sweeping displaced children longing for your Father’s return. Remove the gift from the shelf. Tear off the wrapping and break the seal.
Abscond with joy.
Let it be your refreshment, your restoration, your rebellion against the world. Dare to be joyful even for just a moment in the midst of adversity and pain. Let joy be your raised fist against the powers of darkness.
Dance. Laugh. Smile. Snatch the fruit of joy from the open hand of the Holy Spirit and let the juice of that fruit flow down your face and pool at your feet. Guzzle joy today and feel the strength of Jesus Christ ripple through the muscles of your faith.
Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored an unsettling blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus).
Though she has degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori learned the most important things from studying her Bible in life’s trenches. You’ll find her at her website www.loriroeleveld.com. If not, know she’s off somewhere slaying dragons. Not available for children’s parties.