Defiant Joy with Stasi Eldredge, Part One

This week, Dan is joined by Stasi Eldredge, author of the new book Defiant Joy: Taking Hold of Hope, Beauty, and Life in a Hurting World, to talk about the intimate relationship between joy and sorrow, and about what it means to cultivate deep joy in even the most painful circumstances.

Dan: “Joy is such a central part of what we are meant to be about, what we’re meant to receive and offer to others. You have been faithful to what I want to call the text of life: the sorrow, the suffering, the questions. […] I am never far from convulsive tears, and I am never far from the laughter of heaven.”

Stasi shares how, within the same six months, her family lost a brother, a grandson, a best friend, and suffered a devastating betrayal, all while Stasi was suffering from the worst physical pain of her life. Stasi says, at times, writing a book about joy in the midst of such horror felt ridiculous. But that’s where defiance comes in.

Stasi: “It’s not just joy, it’s defiant joy. Defiance means to stand against, to rebel, to dissent, to say ‘no.’ […] Because sorrow and suffering—even excruciating loss—do not have the final word. Jesus does. Light does. Love does. That requires defiance.”

Dan: “It’s the unaddressed reality that most of us have given up sorrow, and mostly given up joy. Because the pathways neurologically, and more importantly the pathways of our soul, must travel both to experience one or the other.”

Stasi and Dan discuss how there is often a sense of embarrassment or shame connected to experiences of pain and sadness. Somehow we inherit the belief that believing in Jesus means that we have a shortcut around feeling sadness—rather than an invitation to move through sadness in a new way. In that sense, joy is not about denying or hiding from pain, but about recognizing that divine goodness and beauty can be present even in the midst of heartache and brokenness.

Even if the night is full of terror, there will be a dawning.

Dan: “Sorrow brings a greater acuteness, a greater awareness to beauty, goodness, joy, wonder, mystery. Without sorrow, joy doesn’t actually seem that possible. […] Committing ourselves to joy means opening our hearts to sorrow.”

Stasi: “The invitation of God is that we are alive. And if we are alive in Him, then we are growing and bearing the image of the man of sorrows, the man who wept, the man who was broken, the man who is also known as the source of all joy, the man who laughs, the man who weeps at death but sees it so much differently than we do.”

Join us next week as Dan and Stasi continue this conversation by wrestling with some of the thieves that rob us of joy, and on how we can cultivate the joy we have been given.

We are aware that, in this series, there are sound issues that lessen the enjoyment of listening. We apologize that the technical quality does not match our usual standards, and we are working to address the issue for future recordings. In the meantime, we hope you are still able to find meaning and encouragement in the beauty and depth of Dan and Stasi’s conversation.