In the fall I had the opportunity to speak at the inaugural Redemption women’s retreat. Kalle wrote a blog post following the retreat discussing the main theme of the event, Fighting for Joy, and I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. In the post, she shared that we are all joy seekers by nature. While we often seek joy and satisfaction in relationships, our jobs, and the things of this world, our ultimate and unmovable joy is found in the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:8). As I was spending time with the Lord preparing for my talk, He reminded me that the fight for joy is not meant to be an individual endeavor. We fight for joy in community.
When we experience the joy of God, we want to be in the fight for joy with others. Paul says in Philippians 1:23-26,
“My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”
Paul has experienced joy in Christ – to the point of preferring death over life so he can be with the Lord. However, he chose to stay for the purpose of pointing others to Christ and helping them find joy in the Lord. There is a missional side to fighting for joy. When you learn to fight for joy, you want to help others fight. You ask God, “How will you use me?” God has been teaching me that this joy thing is not about me; it’s about glorifying Him. I want to be a part of His story. Fighting for joy in community looks like praying together on the spot, pointing people to Christ, and not just giving advice that will change circumstances. It means pursuing relationships with others, even when things are messy, and asking God to let us see others as He sees them.
When we fight for the joy of others, the fight is also a means to our own joy. Paul’s joy was in the people to whom he ministered. He derived life and a sense of well-being from their faith. Over the last five years at Redemption, God has allowed me to walk alongside many women in the church who were in dark seasons. It was in the moments of walking with those women as they sought after God, even in their suffering, that I experienced Him more deeply than I ever had before. Seeing these women find joy in the hardest circumstances taught me much about the root of joy. I wonder if we can truly experience the fullness of joy outside of community.
Fighting for joy looks like asking God each morning to use you. When I pray that, I find myself in situations where I feel used by God each day, and it gives me great joy.
So where does all of the fighting for joy in community happen? It can be in many different contexts, but for me it is often in small groups of women who meet regularly. At Redemption, we call these groups Discipleship Pods. Last weekend, I came across a photo of me with three women who have profoundly impacted my walk with the Lord. That made me realize I have been in some form of a women’s Discipleship Pod since before I was a believer. What these small groups of women had in common was that we prayed for each other, discussed God’s Word, talked about what God was doing in our lives, and encouraged one another in our walks with Jesus. In these groups, we can be reminded that in the Lord, “there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
This month, we are relaunching Discipleship Pods at Redemption. If you are looking for a place to fight for joy in community, consider reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. God has prepared a place for you.