Updated: Jul 4
I wonder what these words conjure up for you?
‘Defiance’ isn’t usually a positive word as we tend to apply it to describe a behaviour from a child or adult that doesn’t conform or do what they are told! Defiant joy is, therefore, a joy that ‘resists behaving or confirming to what is asked or expected’. It is a joy that shines through in the midst of pain, loss, suffering, heartache, illness, unemployment; a joy that radiates regardless of circumstance because it comes purely from knowing and trusting the goodness and faithfulness of God in, and through, all things. As Sue reminded us in one of her preaches before lockdown ‘happiness depends on happenings; joy depends on Jesus!'
I was at Spring Harvest many years ago with my friend Lesley; people were responding to a powerful work of the Holy Spirit - there were prostrate bodies all around us everywhere but Lesley was standing, hands raised in worship and acceptance. For her at that moment God, by His Spirit wanted to reassure her that she could continue to stand despite being widowed early in her marriage leaving her as a single parent to two pre-school age children. She described it to me afterwards as God giving her backbone; the ability to stand straight and tall, to not be bowed down by circumstances. Whilst others needed to be made low, as it were, God knew that she had been on the floor physically and emotionally too many times to count since her husband had died and that what she needed was that total assurance that, leaning into God, His strength, His provision and His joy, she would not be defeated. I saw ‘defiant joy’ for the first time.
As we journey together over the next six weeks what will we discover about joy and our capacity for it? For those of us who are more Eeyore type characters than Tiggers, joy doesn’t always come easily; for those of us who see problems first rather than solutions, for those of us who look down at our circumstances rather than up into the face of our loving Heavenly Father, ‘joy’, that precious gift of the Spirit, may seem elusive. God is not only the source of joy but as scripture reminds us time and again it is an essential part of His character. We are told that God takes ‘great delight in you … He will rejoice over you with singing’! Isn’t that amazing!! The Hebrew phrase can also be translated literally as ‘He rejoices over you with a shout of joy’. As a parent I would sing my children to sleep every night regardless of the type of day we had had; God not only sings over us but shouts with joy! His song and His shout are born out of great love for each and every one of us regardless of what we have done.
Our prayer in these next six weeks is that we grow in true, biblical joy; that we might be beacons of joy and hope in our households and communities in these days where hope struggles to be seen consistently. Our prayer is that we will so grasp the gift of joy that we will be forever changed; defiant in the face of challenges, circumstances and tragedies because we truly know that joy is rooted in God, in the surety of His goodness and His love for us; that it is immoveable, unshakable, available at all times of day and night, in every circumstance because God is always present and available.
May the joy of the Lord, truly be your strength in these days and always.
We have the home team anchor this series as ever, with Adam Poole, an ordinand on placement with us, preaching on the 26th July and Lizzie Simpson preaching on the 9th August. Resources for each of the six weeks will be included in the blog links below, and here's a Spotify playlist to inspire your resilience and joy in the Lord! Here's the overview to this series...
5th July - Defiant joy: because of the goodness of God
12th July - Defiant joy: because of our salvation
19th July - Defiant joy: because of knowing Jesus
26th July - Defiant joy: in the face of suffering
2nd August - Defiant joy: in the face of defeated death
9th August - Defiant joy: the fruit of the Spirit