“… joy emanates from the abiding sense of God’s fierce love for us.”
– Margaret Feinberg
It’s been very much the topic of discussion around here lately. For a couple of reasons.
Over a week ago, Fight Back With Joy, the much-anticipated book from celebrated author and real life inspiration, Margaret Feinberg, landed on shelves, physical and cyber alike, and it’s touching the lives of anyone who reads it.
I was anxious to read her thoughts and experiences on joy in the midst of trials and illness, and even though our circumstances were completely different, cancer versus depression, the use of joy as a weapon is very much the same.
And when my advanced copy came, I took my time. I could have rushed the reading, and said a few witty things on the blog, thrown in something deep at the end, and moved on.
But when I realised just how much it would have cost Feinberg to lay out her personal journey for all to see, in order to get this message to us about the power of real joy, I knew I couldn’t just dial this blog post in.
This has to mean something.
Before reading Margaret’s book and blog, I had always just kind of used joy as the choice at the end of a situation or as a natural personality trait. An excellent quality, something to strive for. I knew joy came from God, I knew we had a choice in how to respond, but I always used it as a response at the end of a circumstance. Does that make sense to anyone besides me?
Growing up in the church, I saw real joy often. Either people seemed to live these blessed lives from the get-go, or it seemed to kick in after the struggle, like they simply refused to be beat. And I thought, wow, those people just know how to finish coming through everything and somehow ending on joy! What’s the trick?
Now, here I am older, and barely wiser, but I have come to understand the truth that Feinberg so eloquently states, that “All of us are in a fight. Others can fight with you, but no one can fight this for you.” [emphasis mine]
We all have something we battle. And some of us have mastered how to use joy to battle it.
And we don’t just have to get to the end of those battles, exhausted and bruised and scarred, and then suddenly take the higher ground and choose to be happy regardless… but Feinberg teaches us to arm ourselves FIRST with joy, God’s joy, before we face the battle.
“More than whimsy, joy is a weapon we use to fight life’s battles.”
This stopped me in my tracks.
A weapon. Not an afterthought.
I had taken this specific kind of joy for granted. An arming, shielding, wielding, precedes-the-ugly, brings-the-victory kind of joy. Not saved for later when you’ve exhausted all the other options, as noble and spiritual as they may be. But joy right out of the gate and into the fray from the word go. I had forgotten how to access that.
And I had been looking at the battlefield all wrong.
I had been viewing each battlefield as the “possible” end of everything on the off-chance that the Almighty wouldn’t come through. Some faith, right? Instead I should have approached each battlefield as the opportunity to mine the unstoppable love and power of an unstoppable and powerful God. A God who doesn’t hand out doom to fight doom. A God who, in His infinite wisdom, said My grace will be sufficient, My love victorious and fierce, and when you equip yourself with those things, you wind up with My joy as the tool of choice.
And it will bring down strongholds.
And it will anchor.
And it will defy darkness.
It has to stem from a holy awareness in those moments before the struggle where, as Margaret puts it, “we face it confident that God is with us and for us.”
Which we all know, and yet, that awareness could and should be borne out of joy. A declaration holy gladness that starts with the truth that we belong to Him!
So we become warriors, not out of spite, fear, necessity or pride but we become warriors out of the desire for pure joy, joy that never backs down, joy that never runs from the scary things, but arms itself with the actual thanksgiving and proclamation that we belong to the One bigger than any big thing out there.
And that the Author of all joy goes with us.
And so joy begets more joy.
No matter what else comes.
Because we were created for joy.
I want to end with this powerful truth. One that Margaret explores so wonderfully in the early parts of her book.
Our purpose, she says, and our heritage.
When was the last time we were challenged, really challenged to think of joy this way? To really define it. And then to utilize it. To claim it as our destiny.
As I work through some current battles, I will start to allow joy to do exactly what it was meant to do. Margaret’s words bring the choice to live fully in the presence of God and His fierce love, and no longer fear what’s ahead.
This will change everything. And this is just the top layer of all that God’s joy will do. I highly recommend you let it do the same for your battles, whatever they look like today.
Joy is this valiant beautiful gift. Revealed through the heart of one woman on a quest to Fight Back With Joy.
I’d hate to think of this post as just as book review. Consider this my personal declaration that sometimes it takes someone else’s discoveries and battles before we realise what we’re missing. Margaret is this amazing, beautiful, joyous teacher, weaving together holy truths and revealing powerful plans taught to her by the Author of All, in the midst of it all.
I for one have become a fellow warrior armed with joy.
And I really can’t tell you enough how powerful a weapon you’ll have when armed with joy.
So I hope you’ll let Margaret Feinberg inspire you.
Have you ever read a book that changed your whole approach to life? Have you begun to read Fight Back With Joy, and loved every minute? Let me know in the comments below, and follow the links throughout to find out more about Fight Back With Joy!