HOW TO HAVE JOY NO MATTER WHAT: AN INTERVIEW WITH STASI ELDREDGE

Bible Gateway interviewed Stasi Eldredge (@StasiEldredge) about her book, Defiant Joy: Taking Hold of Hope, Beauty, and Life in a Hurting World (Thomas Nelson, 2018).

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What’s the difference between “joy” and “defiant joy”?

Stasi Eldredge: The answer is an easy one. Joy means to have great pleasure or delight.

In this world we find ourselves living in, having joy in the midst of it often feels both crazy and out of reach. That’s why we need to possess a defiant stance.

Defiant means to stand against the tide. It means to go against the flow that’s comprised of a strong current of despair and difficulty. Believing that sorrow and loss don’t have the final word takes defiance. To have joy in the midst of pain or the current newsfeed can seem impossible.

And all on our own, it’s impossible. But just as Gabriel said after making his outlandish proclamation to Mary that she, a virgin, would give birth to the Savior of the world, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

What do you mean when you write that, rather than denying the truth of reality, defiant joy is being fully present to it?

Stasi Eldredge: Being fully present to our lives will mean feeling our sorrow or pain or happiness or whatever we’re in the midst of and living with a heart rooted in the deepest reality of the goodness of God and the life that’s coming to us. To live with an authentic and defiant joy will mean engaging our lives fully, but interpreting them by the highlight of Heaven.

God is not present in our pretending that our lives are not what they are. He’s present in moments, even when our moments are a very hard place. The invitation from God is to encounter him in our here and nowwith an honesty and a trust that he will meet us.

Why do you say Christmas is an invasion and how does that pertain to being joyful?

Stasi Eldredge: The incarnation of Jesus was a rescue mission for mankind. Planned long in advance, God came into the Earth to save us—much like a military unit will sneak into an enemy camp to rescue captives. We were all captive to sin, and Jesus came under the cover of night, to the little town of Bethlehem, to perform the greatest rescue mission ever. He invaded our world that had fallen under the power of the evil one to victoriously triumph over evil!

How has writing this book helped you in your personal battle with depression?

Stasi Eldredge: Writing Defiant Joy has caused me to check in with my own soul every day to ask myself what I’m believing. My thoughts are either based on the truth of the gospel or not. I have a choice to make when I find my emotions have plummeted and that is to turn my gaze to the truth that I’m endlessly loved. My emotions may not instantly rise, but my soul can rest in God and I can experience being rooted in joy.

Briefly explain the message of your chapter titled “The Cup.”

Stasi Eldredge: Jesus asks us to drink the same cup that he did. It was a cup of suffering—one that the Father asked him to drink. Though we’ll never suffer as Jesus did, he asks us to take up our cross and follow him. The cup Jesus drank was a doorway to life. Death led to the resurrection. Sorrow led to joy. The ways of God are higher than ours, but in Christ and because he led the way, the cup of suffering becomes the cup of joy for us just as it did for him.

How should a person struggling to have joy approach the Bible?

Stasi Eldredge: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about who God really is and who you are in him. Ask him to show you what your joy is to be based upon. I’d begin by spending some time in Ephesians 1 and asking God to reveal the truth to you of how deeply loved you are.

How is joy cultivated?

Stasi Eldredge: The primary key that unlocks joy is gratitude. Having a thankful heart is the ground in which joy flourishes. We can cultivate gratitude by remembering the goodness and faithfulness of God in our own lives and in the Word of God.

If a person is in a season where being thankful feels completely out of reach, then I suggest they begin by thinking of things they like and making a list. Simple things as in, “I like coffee. I like the smell of freshly mown grass. I like sunsets…” After making the list, thank God for those things. It’s amazing the affect a shift in our thoughts can take.

How do you want people to use your book?

Stasi Eldredge: I want people to read Defiant Joy and find understanding, mercy, and hope in it. My desire is that it reveals the love of God more deeply and awakens their joy as their response.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Stasi Eldredge: A favorite verse if mine is Zephaniah 3:17 —
The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV)

I find so much joy and awe in the fact that God is singing over me. He’s rejoicing over me every day even when I blow it or am not living as well as I’d like. His love is unchangeable and unconditional. Hooray!

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?

Stasi Eldredge: Bible Gateway is FANTASTIC. It’s such a huge help in finding Scripture, looking up meanings, parallel verses, diving deeper, and being encouraged. It’s an invaluable tool that I personally use often. Plus it has articles that bring truth and encouragement as well! It’s something that everyone should be aware of and make use of!

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Stasi Eldredge: God is a God of joy. It’s at the very center of his being. His command that we be joyfulalways means that it’s both possible for us and that he wants it for us. The invitation is to come to know him better. Because when we do, our joy will increase and be rooted and grounded in his unending, immeasurable, boundless love.

Goodnight

My Dear Blogger Friends.

I want to wish all to a Blessed Sunday and those in other Countries, Good morning.

The Lord is near us, in us, 24/7 and I need to be thankful everyday.

There are some days that my Worship lacks the PASSION of my first few years after been saved.

I pray for all of us to feel Him all the times, I look at the Clouds and see The Holy Spirit.

When I look at Nature I am reminded of His greatness and love. His beauty is all around us and I cannot believe that just that is not sufficient to make unbelievers, believers. I need more passion but as I write this down, I can feel is Spirit gently caressing my heart. My passion for Jesus will be renewed because without HIM there is no life for me. Thank You, Father, for Jesus and Your Holy Spirit. I am refreshed now and will remember to thank HIM again and again. I found out that when I am a little low or sad, as soon as I thank HIM I get OK. So, this is a reminder for me and I am just sharing it. Thank you for stopping by my little Blog.

Love you all in Christ Jesus,

Goodnight.

Later,

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Psalm 10 NIV Culture Background

10:1 Why … ? This word begins with the Hebrew letter lamed, which continues the acrostic alphabet from Ps 9, uniting the two psalms thematically (see the article “Acrostic Psalms”). hide yourself. See note on 13:1.

10:8 villages. Most Israelites lived in unwalled villages clustered close to larger walled cities (“surrounding villages” is lit. the “daughter” of the city; cf. 1Ch 7:28). A walled city served as a place of refuge during times of war, provided a central market for villagers to buy and sell goods and produce, and offered important social services such as judicial resources. While traveling to and from cities and fields, people were exposed to danger from robbers lurking among rocks or trees, especially in the more rugged hill country and at night when returning from the fields.

10:16 King for ever. See notes on 97:599:1.

Psalm 10[a]

Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
    who are caught in the schemes he devises.
He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
    he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
    in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
His ways are always prosperous;
    your laws are rejected by[b] him;
    he sneers at all his enemies.
He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
    He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

His mouth is full of lies and threats;
    trouble and evil are under his tongue.
He lies in wait near the villages;
    from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
    like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
    he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
    they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
    he covers his face and never sees.”

12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
    Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
    Why does he say to himself,
    “He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
    you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
    call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
    that would not otherwise be found out.

16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
    the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that mere earthly mortals
    will never again strike terror.

Encouraging the Pastors

Man in prayer
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Your pastor can attend one of The Cove’s free Leadership Renewal Retreats.

Billy Graham once said, “The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying not, ‘What a lovely sermon!’ but, ‘I will do something.’”

What a special responsibility pastors have to lead in this way. Yet, the great task of rallying people behind the Gospel can also bring great pressure.

Studying and praying to deliver God’s Word each week, counseling and consoling people in need, keeping business in order at church and at home—not to mention having a likeable personality and a few hobbies through it all—is a multifaceted vocation only pastors can understand. And one that requires continual attention.

“Burnout is a real thing, and a real risk when we go too long without rest. It’s no different for your pastor,” explained Will Graham, who is executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina.

“In many churches, the pastor is not just the preacher, but also the accountant, janitor, chaplain, librarian and counselor,” he added.

Like his grandfather Billy Graham, Will pastored a church before becoming a full-time evangelist. In a recent blog about the importance of Pastor Appreciation Month, he admitted he didn’t want that call on his life—at first.

3“From my perspective, pastors were under-appreciated and underpaid, serving long and thankless hours only to hear complaints because the message was too long or too short, the music was too contemporary or not contemporary enough,” Will said.

But he jumped feet first and soon grew to love being a pastor.

“When the day came that I felt called to leave my church and help my father at the BGEA, I sat down at my desk and wept,” Will recalled. “I could hardly bring myself to leave.”

That same love and commitment is the story of countless pastors and their spouses.

But there are struggles that can come with the weight of leadership. Like not feeling valued, explained Atlanta-area pastor and author Johnny Hunt.

“It is real easy for the church people to think of what the pastor and his wife are to do for them, and oftentimes in their busyness and expectations, do not show value and appreciation toward the pastor and his wife,” he said. “Also, unless the couple that are leading the church is very intentional, serving as a pastor and spouse can be a very lonely position.”

Last month, Hunt taught a Pastors’ Institute at The Cove on the Stewardship of Influence. As pastor of First Baptist Church Woodstock and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, he knows all about the weight of ministry and how much prayer and encouragement can mean.

“Every month I send a prayer email,” he said. “In there I tell them to pray that I would find my joy in the Lord, that I would have proper margins and that I would seek constant refreshment from the Lord.

“What a difference it makes to know that others are lifting me to the throne of God.”

A Time for Renewal

Just as pastors have a responsibility to influence those they lead—there’s also a responsibility to be good stewards of the time and relationships God gives. That means getting away when necessary, valuing family time and being careful not to overwork.

“No one sets my schedule but myself. I have to realize that I have limits,” Hunt said. “I may use the daylight God gave me but I need to be home with my family, especially in relation to the age of the children and the demands in order to be a godly husband and father.”

As a former pastor, Will Graham wanted to make pastors a priority. The Cove started the Leadership Renewal Project as one way to pour back into the lives of pastors and their spouses.

Donations to the fund allow pastors to attend three-day Leadership Renewal Retreats for free. That includes the program fee, meals and lodging.

In addition to giving your pastor the opportunity to get away, Will recommends offering words of affirmation and breaking down walls that can exist between pastors and the congregation.

“I can attest the great blessing it is to lead a congregation, but I can also stand here and say clearly that it isn’t easy. There are struggles,” he explained. “This month, show your pastor how much you appreciate him in whatever ways you can.”

Looking for ways to honor your pastor? Thanks to the Leadership Renewal Project, pastors and their spouses can attend special retreats at The Cove for free. The 2016 schedule of Leadership Renewal Retreats includes:

Register for Leadership Retreats and Ev