I hope you’re enjoying my daily posts on the 24 Days of Christmas. Thanks for reading those, and I hope they’re a blessing to you this holiday season. But I wanted to squeeze this post in between all that because I felt led to share something a little different with you. Lest you think I’m over here in a make-believe winter wonderland with all my fun Christmas-y pictures and posts, I felt like you needed to know something:

Throughout this year and even right now, I have been (and currently am) in one of the greatest battles of my life. I can’t and won’t go into details of all that right now. That’s not really the focus of this post. Yes, what you see about all our Christmas fun is real. We’re having a ball, making lots of memories and baking lots of Christmas cookies together. But you need to know that I’m doing all of that with Christmas ribbons in one hand and a huge sword in the other.

How? Why? Because at the start of this season, I was given one word: JOY. I wasn’t really expecting or looking for a “word” this year, but JOY captivated my attention. And I’ve learned that whenever God highlights a word to me like that, it’s an invitation. It’s a “go and learn what this means” kind of invitation that leads to a place of deeper revelation and strength where He has a special gift waiting for me. And it’s always – always – something He knows I will need for the journey before I ever realize I do.

As I turned my attention towards and began studying it, I was surprised to learn that throughout the Bible, there are several words for which we use our English word, joy. The first I came across – and the one I’m referencing in this post – is a transliteration of the Hebrew word, “rinnah“, which means a ringing cry; in proclamation; praise; rejoicing; singing; shouting. But it’s deeper than that, because this type of joy is very closely associated to the concept of victory and the song, or shout that emanates from those triumphant.

And here’s what I realized, we truly can’t experience or appreciate this type of genuine joy unless we first acknowledge that we’ve experienced (or maybe even are in the midst of) a battle. And neither can we experience this type of joy unless we fight through that battle from a place of victory, instead of for it. So in this case, JOY has more to do with how we engage the fight instead of how we feel.

Has this year been hard for you? Are you finding it difficult to engage the Holiday season much less celebrate because of the pain or hardships or battle(s) you’ve been through? Here’s what I feel led to share with you:

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” Psalm 126:5 NLT

The Passion Translation captures it this way: Those who sow their tears as seeds will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee. 

You can experience joy even in the midst of your battle. But you’ve got to learn how to “plant your tears” like seeds and keep moving forward. Keep engaging the battle and don’t settle for anything less than what your destiny is: winning. In fact, that passage of Scripture goes on to say that “he who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bearing his sheaves with him.” He who continually goes forth…meaning, we don’t stop.

Throughout Scripture, tears play a significant role in experiencing spiritual breakthrough. Charles H. Spurgeon was known for teaching on “the ministry of tears”, in which he addressed all the different types of tears mentioned throughout the Bible. He spoke of tears as “liquid prayer.” Which I can definitely understand and appreciate.

God’s not inviting us into deeper joy by simply learning how to “flip a switch” and put our happy face on. This is an invitation into victorious joy. And experiencing this type of joy doesn’t ignore the reality of pain, hardship, challenge and difficulty many of us have experienced or maybe even are experiencing at this very moment. But it does mean we choose to anchor ourselves in the realities that through our relationship with God, we can go through the fire and the waters (Isaiah 43:2) and still experience joy. Emmanuel is with us and we have been given the keys of the Kingdom and the gates of hell will not prevail against us.

You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping.
    You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost.
        For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance. Psalm 56:8

So I say to you in the word of Isaiah 54:1, “Sing….break forth in singing (joy).” Not because what you are hoping for has happened, but in faith that you know it will.

Shout for joy. Fill the air with your song of victory and watch the walls come crumbling down around you. For unto you has been born a Savior who has placed everything under His feet. The Kingdom has come. And a great Light has dawned.