Listen: Stasi Eldredge in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
We are all spending a lot of energy reaching for happiness, but never quite able to hang on to it. Real life happens, and our circumstances take us on an emotional rollercoaster ride. So when we hear the call to “be joyful always,” it sounds crazy and out of reach. But author Stasi Eldredge says in her latest book, ‘Defiant Joy’, that it doesn’t have to be.
New York Times bestselling author
Stasi is a New York Times bestselling author, and her books have sold nearly 3 million copies and changed women’s lives all over the world. A teacher and conference speaker, Stasi is the director of the women’s ministry at Ransomed Heart and leads Captivating retreats internationally. Her passion is to see lives transformed by the beauty of the gospel. She is married to co-author of ‘Captivating’, John Eldredge, has three sons, several dogs and two horses and lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
” Sorrow and loss do not have the final say”
Lean into God
Her most recent book ‘Defiant Joy: Taking Hold Of Hope, Beauty And Life In A Hurting World’ is an exhortation to lean into God regardless of what we encounter in life.
“Joy is meant to be ours, a joy that is defiant in the face of this broken world. It’s not simply happiness on steroids. It’s the unyielding belief that sorrow and loss do not have the final say. It’s the stubborn determination to be present to whatever may come and to interpret both goodness and grief by the light of heaven.” explains Stasi.
Can we ‘be joyful always’ (1Thess. 5:16)
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It can feel crazy to walk in joy
“It goes beyond sadness or happiness – because neither of those emotions is enough to sustain us. Along the way, we’ll discover how to maintain a posture of holy defiance that neither denies nor diminishes our pain but dares us to live with expectant, unwavering hope.” she says
“Walking in joy often feels crazy and like a denial of actual life. Yet Christians are called to “be joyful always” (1 Thess. 5:16). What does this mean, and how is it even possible?” asks Stasi in the book.
She says she is not being a Pollyanna and ignoring the harsher side of life. What she wants to emphasises is that sorrow or loss need not have the final say.
“Live with expectant, unwavering hope”
She wants to demonstrate that you can have a what she calls “Holy defiance that does not deny or diminish, but leans fully into the experience of knowing God’s presence and promise in the middle of whatever life may bring.”
God wants us to be happy
Stasi Eldredge has a regular blog and this post from October 2018 called ‘Growing Your Capacity for Joy’ is a lovely message about the love God has for us and the happiness and inner peace he wants us to experience. Here is just a part of the post ;
“God drops things in our laps at just the right time. He puts barriers in our paths that look like roadblocks, but are really gifts in disguise, beckoning us to take a closer look at what’s going on inside. We can either step over them, or choose to pick them up and examine them for the potential they may hold. Failure is actually ripe with goodness. The longing to run away or escape our lives for some greener grass may be the opportunity to seek God in the midst of it, to learn something deeper about both us, and Him. Exhaustion and sadness often hold the door to a more restful and joyful life.
Who we wanted to be
“If we will let it, these doors open to remind us of the person we wanted to be, but have left behind in the chaos and disappointments of life. When the sadness refuses to be silenced and the feelings arise that this is not the life I signed up for, we can either go to shame, or go to God. Is it a sin to want to be happy? Is it wrong to want an inner peace that is not subject to the whims and torrents of the world? I don’t think so. God doesn’t think so either. We are made for bliss. We are made for inner peace. If it were not so, why would all humanity throughout history seek it with such a driven and frenetic passion?”
The illusion of perfect
Stasi also has a timely message for all of us running around like crazy things trying to achieve the ‘picture perfect’ christmas. In this post on her blog she busts the myth of the perfect christmas as she realises that she cant bake enough Christmas cookies, decorate with sufficient holly or ever string up enough lights to make christmas the right kind of perfect.
Here’s what she says; “Holidays – Holy Days – are not given to us to rise to the mandate of perfection but to rest and remember – to enjoy the gifts our holy God has given to us by his free hand and to receive his gifts with humbled awe and gratefulness. We can’t wrap enough presents to respond in this way, we can only ask for the grace to wrap our hearts around this truth. God wants our hearts open and ready. He invites us to live from a place of trust and rest, not a place of pressure and demand.” Pretty good advice for all of us.
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