Proverb 31 infamously describes the super woman every Christian lady aspires to imitate. She has been studied in small groups, spoken of at conferences, written about, and meditated upon as the perfect picture of Christian feminine power, but if I’m being honest, I share little resemblance with this spiritual giant. I’m not all that resourceful, I’m not the greatest housekeeper, and my entrepreneurial endeavors are dwarfed by her successes. However, I’ve come to discover our heroine’s secret power and it is this, “she laughs with no fear of the future,” Proverbs 31:25
One day last year I was doing my hair, thinking on all there was for me to do that day and how overwhelmed I was, when those old familiar voices came rushing into the room saying, “look at you, you’re nobody and you have nothing to offer. You’ll never get ahead. You take one step forward only to take 2 steps back.” Have you ever heard anything like that? As I looked at my face in the mirror I could see my soul sinking into oblivion.
Then, like a hand reaching out to draw me out of deep water, my spirit rose up within me and I boldly declared over myself and to any enemy listening, “I will never quit! I will never stop worshiping. I will never relinquish the promises of God. I won’t stop. Ever.” This went on for several minutes and as each declaration left my lips I saw the strength of the Lord wash over me and my countenance was changed into that of a relentless champion, and do you know what, I began to laugh.
Your greatest weapon of spiritual warfare in this life is your joy. When we begin to speak and think from a place of victory rather than identifying with defeat, we make way for joy to flood the soul. What could be more deflating to the enemies of our soul than for us to counter each attack pronounced upon us with genuine laughter? Does any other reaction speak more exuberantly of the transforming nature of knowing who we are in Christ? What could be more satisfying than to lay waste with laughter the very enemy who tries daily to lay waste to you? Joy diffuses the fiery darts of Satan and makes a mockery of him as much as it gloriously displays the goodness of the Father.
Joy is as beautiful a mystery as the Holy Spirit himself, but it is a treasure he labors to help us uncover. Because I saw the word J-O-Y so often in the culture, on bracelets, t-shirts, stationary, you name it, I found that the word itself held little meaning to me. I couldn’t pin down what gave it relevance, but in as much as the subject eluded me, I was drawn to search it out and discover its application in my daily life. The book of Nehemiah says, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” Having a proper understanding then, of what Biblical joy is and how to walk in it, is paramount. These few things that I have come to understand concerning the joy of the Lord have emerged from my own study and are in no way exhaustive.
One of our greatest misconceptions about joy is that it is an emotion. Though joy effects us on an emotional level, Biblical joy is not an emotion. Joy is not natural, it’s supernatural. The joy of the Lord is indeed meant to transform our mind, will, emotions, and personality in a profound way but joy itself does not come from any of those places. Joy comes from Holy Spirit. It is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). And because it comes from Holy Spirit, it cannot be fabricated. That’s one reason why we shouldn’t pressure others to exude Christian joy when they have no revelation of what joy really is. This is both foolish and insensitive on our part and can be detrimental to others. I mean, you try living a life with a smile on your face when you’re broken within. Maybe you’re there or you’ve been there. The last thing you need is someone telling you to “wear a smile anyway.” Christ didn’t call us into a life of “fake it ’til you make it.” He has called us into a life of exuberant joy.
If we could really come to understand by revelation that joy isn’t an emotion nor is it altered by any circumstantial experience we face, I think we could experience a lot more freedom in the body of Christ. I know I have felt pressure over the years to appear happy, smiling, and content when I was anything but on the inside. If it can be manufactured, it’s not joy, it’s just uncomfortable. Joy is the very nature of Holy Spirit spilling over from the inside of you. And like Holy Spirit, you always have access. Joy is not something we are reaching for. Joy is the seat upon which we have been seated in Christ Jesus already. Not one day. Now.
Picture it. That moment at the end of a boxing match. You know, when the bell dings and the referee is holding your fighters glove high in the air. The crowd is cheering. He’s won the fight. And because he’s won, you’ve won. Nervous anticipation gives way to exhilaration. That’s what takes place in the spirit when we identify with Christ’s victory over death, hell, and the grave. Our fighter has knocked the socks off our enemy. Our opponent is shouting threats at us but he’s on his way down to the mat. The fight is over. It’s already won. This was the joy set before Christ, that we would identify with his victory and live a life transformed by that identification. He fought the fight but we receive the title. Champions. That’s what we are. When we live from his victory, we counter every attack with joy because we know we win!
So how do we access joy? How do we get more of it? How do we identify with the victory we’ve been freely given in Christ? Proverbs 31:26 goes on to say, “she opens her mouth in skillful and Godly wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” Open your mouth. Fill it with the word and the let ‘er rip. It’s not enough just to read the word. You’ve got to speak it! Boldly declare over yourself who it is that you are and whose you are. And do it every. single. day. Identify with Christ’s victory over every enemy that tries to put defeat on you and you will find yourself laughing.