Some of us rise to a challenge and some of us tend to defy challenges. I’ve just read an advanced copy of a new book by Stasi Eldredge, which releases on October 16th. The title should be a rallying cry, “Defiant Joy – Taking Hold of Hope, Beauty, and Life in a Hurting World”. I’ve found myself defiantly anti-joy, in a childish, “You can’t make me!” way. “Life hurts and the hits keep coming and I can’t Pollyannish my way out of it”! I guess you could say I’m being tenaciously mournful.
“Defiant Joy” isn’t a call to be Pollyannish.
Eldredge explains her chosen title: “In this world where we find ourselves living, having joy often feels both crazy and out of reach. That’s why the title of this book includes the word defi- ant. Defiant means to stand against the tide. It means to go against the flow, even when the flow is composed of a strong current of despair and difficulty. To have joy in the midst of sorrow—or the current news feed—can seem impossible”.
Heck yeah, it can seem impossible! Isn’t it so much easier in this world of increasing –you’ve got to be kidding me—absurdity and pain, to just choose to wallow in all the bad news? But, Eldredge makes me pause. Do I really want to go with the flow if it means living in despair?
In her latest book, Eldredge makes the case that “Joy is meant to be ours, a joy that is defiant in the face of this broken world”. In “Defiant Joy” she calls us to turn to Jesus, “who is our hope in the face of loss and untold grief”. Eldredge goes deeper and illuminates “that the absence of suffering is not our good. The presence of God is our good”. She lays out the real differences between happiness and joy – temporary versus lasting.
Here’s the thing: this book is honest, relatable, wise and practical. “Defiant Joy” is life giving. (Being tenaciously mournful is a slow death). You’re going to want a package of highlighters in a variety of colors by your side when you read “Defiant Joy”. Yellow for key points, blue for questions to ask yourself, red for examples of life events, attitudes and emotions stealing your joy, and green for gems that will move you towards living a life of joy.
Eldredge’s book is so full of aha moments one read through isn’t going to satisfy. I can testify to that. I’ve got a couple of long-term unhappy circumstances that are out of my control to change. I bet you do to. We’re tempted to embrace misery, rather than rise up and choose defiant joy. We’re tempted to take it all on our own, rather than allowing God’s all-consuming love to work in our life. We’re easily fooled into believing there is greener grass than what He’s offering. (In Eldredge’s chapter, “Greener Grass”, she asks us to ask Jesus to help us see our life as he does. Holy perspective).
“Defiant Joy” charges us to trade “Sorrow for joy. Fear for freedom. Silence for song. Melancholy for celebration. Shrinking back for pressing through. My weakness for His strength. Distrust for faith. My bent for His way”. …Death for Life! Don’t trade the time it takes to read this book for any lesser thing!
We can live in this real world with real joy.