We know for most of us recent times have churned out one instance of pain, confusion, and unrest after another. It’s been a hard season to say the least, and we’re ready for joy. Aren’t you? We’re longing for it, really. Not the kind that all of our social media scrolling claims we need; no, we’re ready to ready to turn away from the world’s counterfeit version of temporary satisfaction and embrace the deep, authentic joy God is offering.
That’s why we’re full of JOY today to tell you that our newest (in)courage Bible study, Courageous Joy, is now available! Cue the confetti! This Bible study features the real-life, going-first kind of stories you know and love from our (in)courage writers, and some seriously non-fluffy Scripture study — like the passage we’re sharing below, written by Mary Carver. Read on for a taste of Courageous Joy:
The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will be quiet in his love.
He will delight in you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 (CSB)
Sometimes we oversimplify the two parts of the Bible, labeling the Old Testament as harsh or even boring while pointing to the New Testament as the more loving, relatable half of God’s Word. But while the Old Testament is full of battles and wars and armies and kings, it’s also a love letter. Every time God sends a prophet to warn the Israelites to turn back to Him, He tells them how much joy He finds in them and how He longs to bring that same joy into their lives rather than judgment.
In the book of Zephaniah, the prophet urges the people of Judah to turn back to God. He warns them in great detail of the devastation and pain that will come if they do not repent. But then he offers hope by reminding them of God’s faithful love and His promise of redemption. He tells them God loves them so much that He rejoices over them with gladness and singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
Life is complicated and sometimes difficult, and as devoted followers of God, we certainly do have many serious things to think about.
We have hard things to ponder, sad situations that concern us, injustices that cause our hearts pain. But that’s not all God wants for us. He also wants us to think about the lovely things of this world and the joy of our salvation yet to come. What a relief to know that we aren’t required to leave laughter for the foolish and spend our days grim and gloomy. Instead, God invites us into a sacred space of big grins and loud laughs, of deep delight and light hearts.
When was the last time you belly laughed or laughed so hard you cried? What was it that delighted you so much? Can you remember a time when you felt God’s personal delight over you?
Isn’t this just the very subject that we all need right now? The Courageous Joy Bible Study is ready for you and available where books are sold, including:
We’re thrilled that this Bible study is finally able to be in your hands. Get your copy of the Courageous Joy Bible Study, and let’s dig in to what God says about joy.Leave a Comment
I’m so excited!!!! My goodness, at first I thought it’s been a LONG time since I had a belly laugh, but that’s not true. I had a good belly laugh last week with my husband. We were cleaning the house, and I was in my serious ‘got to get it done mode’. I heard some grumbling coming from the bathroom and as I walked down the hall… out came my husband with the plunger, and towels, “is the washer empty”? Needless to say, the bathroom got a GREAT cleaning, and we had a good belly laugh about the mess. Nothing like a septic system that had a hiccup. HA!
I too had to pause for a moment and really think about the reflection questions. I feel like I have been carrying such a heavy weight (even before the global pandemic). Then, I remembered laying in bed with my young daughter who was making silly faces. When I started making faces back, she couldn’t stop giggling! She is the greatest joy and blessing in my life.
Karen Purkey says
I have had 2 surgeries in the past two months so it has been a very tough time physically. However, dear friends have sent me funny pictures or silly jokes. I have had some real belly laughs as they seem to know what tickles me. Also, sweet friends have called to sing me songs and lullabies. Last night, I dozed off when one beautiful woman was singing to me. She laughed when I woke up, saying, “I put you to sleep.” God’s joy is like a refreshing brook of water cascading over the hillside. ❤️
Stephanie Acevedo says
I remember a time I was struggling with something that God was trying to teach me. When I (finally!) understood, I saw a huge host of angels singing and dancing to “Whoop There It Is”! It was a moment of humor, and even now I smile thinking about it, knowing that God has given us the gift of joy and laughter!
Jeannine Lawless says
Watching our children laugh while watching “Yes Day” with our family Can’t wait for the new study!
The last time I belly laughed was over my amazing autistic kiddo saying something so adorably funny. We couldn’t believe it, but it made us belly laugh!
I often feel God’s personal delight in the very presence of my little boy, he is 2, and often the source of my husband and I laughing until we are crying. He is so precious, so full of big love, and also a little stinker lol, because he is 2. But every night, regardless of how hard the day might have been, we are so, so, so grateful that God chose us to be his parents, and that we get to have all those laughs and moments of joy because of it. Can’t wait to read more from this devotional!
My little dog makes me laugh every day, and the birds hovering outside our window persistently reminding my husband to put the feeder out for them. We enjoyed some great laughs this weekend watching Gary Thomas together in a marriage webinar, as well as Priscilla and Joas of Montana Haven answering questions about marriage.
I’m excited about the Courageous Joy Study. It’s been a hard year of isolation, but God is good.
Oh, and this passage from Zephaniah 3:17 is one of my favorites. I love this vision of God’s love for me.
My last belly laugh was when I fell off my bicycle. All I could think of was, “We fall down, but we get up.” So, I got up and continued to ride my bike (all the way home).
Kristi Cunningham says
After my mom died, God blessed us with the perfect little house that I had prayed for. I know he also had as much joy as I did as we found just the right furniture and decor for this 1940’s gem. God is so personal and knows us so well!♥️
Whenever I meet up with an old friend, we are filled with laughter and I realize how little I laugh like that in everyday life…it takes me back to when we were younger. She’s such a beautiful, joyous person to be around. I thank God for her and her lovely friendship.
Gail Mattox says
I would love your bundle. I am a senior citizen, a former First Lady yes a pastor wife, but now a widow on a fixed income. But I would love to receive your bundle of joy.
Krista Manning says
Wow! Joy, joy,joy! I need a large dose of that right now in my life. I’m going through breast cancer and don’t have the extra money to buy this book. My health insurance premiums have skyrocketed because of the cancer. This journey has been one set back after another. I got COVID so that pushed back my breast cancer surgery. So I’m ready for joy overflowing!! Love the Bible studies that inCourage writes. I love and respect all you amazing, Christian women. May God richly bless you. My faith is strong in the Lord and I will keep on pressing in.
Dori Knope says
I work in Early Intervention with children age newborn to almost three who are at risk or have developmental delays. My story starts near the beginning of the pandemic shutdown when we were still getting used to doing our previously in-home visits over the computer. I was with team assessing needs for a little girl who was just under two. I had been this girls visitor for a year, and visits had ended four months before. She was in a foster home recovering from neglect and trauma received during her life with biological parents. During the time we were on the computer with mom, this little girl came running in from the next room yelling “Dori, Dori”!! She had recognized my voice while playing in the next room after four months of not hearing it! We laughed and waved, and she danced around!! I was so delighted and touched – not only for the fact she remembered me, but because it showed connection could be achieved through the computer screen during a shutdown. It reminded me of the joy God feels in us when we are separated from him and finally return. Connection and joy!!
D Marie says
Just yesterday as I sat with my 80 year old mother and 85 year old aunt as they reminisced about their past. I’m so blessed to still have them with me!
My sister and I were on the phone yesterday both driving in our cars in totally separate state’s and something I said made her laugh so hard that I started laughing. It turned into one of those crying, hard to take a breath, pull the car over belly laughs. We both agreed it was much needed!!!
Bev Rihtarchik says
I am blessed to have a husband who has a very quick wit and dry sense of humor. He will come out of thin air with one liners that smash the fog I’m in and make a way for me to crack up with laughter. What a gift he and his humor are in these times. Laughter truly is the best medicine!
I can’t wait to read the new bible study for inspiration. I could really use some right now.
Carol Stafford says
Joy is my favorite word. This past year has been full of medical tests, lockdown, losing friends and family, but joy is always there to be found. Just yesterday my grandson was reading a book he had written to me over FaceTime. He had intentionally put in humor and we both shared a good belly laugh. Find the joy!
Tina Queary says
Nothing better than laughter & joy — the last time I truly belly-laughter was a night together with girlfriends that have walked a difficult journey together. We got together to celebrate birthdays, new jobs, freedom from a bad job, book club talk & sharing in a sweet sisterhood of the heart. We call ourselves The G’s (the good girls)!
Ani Walker says
God delighted in me when I finally released my daughter into His hands. I was so full of fear during a challenging season of her teens- battling eating disorders, cutting, drinking, and loss of self esteem and self worth. I couldn’t sleep and was trying to control her to “save” her, which wasn’t my job. I finally couldn’t move and God moved as soon as I released- He delighted in me for giving her to Him to protect, strengthen, and care for. I felt His power & love and I continue to trust in Him
Linda Miltzow says
I have loved reading the comments so far…big smiles here!
Sunday morning in church, the pastor read a passage that talked about “the wife of your youth.” My hubby and I turned to each other at the same time and broke out in great big grins! This is a phrase we use often with each other…we were soooo young when we married—just 19 and 20!
This year our “youthfulness” will be celebrating 40 years!!
Congratulations and God’s blessings on your marriage! My husband and I were both 19 and will be celebrating our 40th this year also!
Linda Miltzow says
Congrats to you and your hubby, too, Melody!
It has been a remarkable journey, all these years together. God has been good and He has been faithful to walk each day with us.
May His blessing continue to fill all the rest of our days (and yours, too!) together as husband and wife…
Lori Deen says
I love to laugh with family.Inside jokes, the tongue in cheek fun that can be had when you are relaxed. The fun is even greater with adult children. Remembering events from different perspectives and encouraging one another over actions that at the time were sometimes hard. Being able to see the maturity of our kids despite our feeble effort and thanking God for his ability to nurture them to trust and love Him.
Joan Moore says
Yes, laughter is like a good dose of medicine, even better!
The new study sounds wonderful.
Jolene Rose says
My kids do the funniest things. The last time I laughed until I cried was I over something funny my daughter said. I would love this courageous joy Bible study.
My world has become small during this pandemic, so my delight and belly laughs are usually based on something new my now nine month old granddaughter is doing. I truly try to give her all of my attention when I am with her and feel the Lord’s delight that I am prioritizing her.
Lynn Melton says
I am looking forward to rediscovering my joy after the past year of struggles with covid.
Cindy Clayton says
Zeph. 3:17 is my favorite verse. How precious to know that the Creator of the universe rejoices over ME! Can’t wait to dig into some Courageous Joy!
Georgia Pistilli says
I am so excited for this!! God is so good! When we look to God’s word, we can experience his joy in all seasons.
Thank you for godly writers
Brenda Bourcier says
Wow! Really appreciate your timely encouragement and challenge for Joy!! We are so ready to live out this life with Jesus…with True JOY!
Even when much around us is troubling…Jesus says take heart I’ve overcome the world
I felt the Heavenly Father’s delight last fall when I was leaving the hospital at midnight (after taking my husband to ER) and “happened” to be parked right next to a Christian woman I knew from years ago, who “happened” to be leaving at the same time (after taking her husband to ER). She and I were able to share our concern and have a time of prayer together. Only God could have orchestrated that!
joy grace encouragement and prayer are very important and I enjoy learning different ways to grow closer to are heavenly father.
Crystal Nuhfer says
The last time I belly laughed was when we took a family weekend away. I don’t even remember what was funny, but it was just a delight to be spending time with my husband and son, enjoying each other and laughing together.
Cindy KROON says
This book may give me the courage needed to carry me through a difficult year ahead.
After reading all the great comments and the article, I think JOY will be my word for 2022. This year’s word is “persevere” and I surely have had to do a lot of that already and it is only March! Thanks for showing us to have courageous joy in the Lord.
Valerie Nassar says
honestly, not sure when was the last time I felt God delight over me. We have been fostering 4 siblings for 2 years and are about to enter the adoption phase. Now, our girl is saying she doesn’t want to be adopted. It has been 2 years of adapting to going from empty nesters (we are 55 & 58) to parenting 4 kids. Watching them miss their parents, giving up our ‘retiring’ plans. Becoming a whole family. And now, to be rejected by her, my heart is breaking. I need to find true God given joy in the midst of this.
Beth Williams says
Sweet sister-Prayers for your broken heart. You gave up so much & put in a ton of effort & love on these children. Asking God to change her heart & make her see the love she is giving away. May you find a sense of peace & God’s comfort.
I’m ready for more God breathed joy in my life!!!
Regina Murden says
Yes, I can remember when God just graced me with wonderful small suprises that was special to me indeed. I was feeling down, but godlift my spirirts with His love. God is just that miraculous.
Amelia Thomas says
What a great and very needed theme for a Bible study! I love the thought that God rejoices over me.
Mary Ellen Clements says
Thank you for the wonderful words of encouragement. It is certainly time to find joy in the midst of trying times. I enjoy being with my two youngest grandchildren who fill me with joy and laughter. God has been so good to us during these days of uncertainly.
Blessings to all of you as you continue to share His Word and His love.
Melanie Nichols says
Last week my husband made me laugh so hard I cried.
The last time I laughed so hard I cried was when I was hanging out with my best friend. I don’t even know what started our laughter, but it soon turned into that belly laugh that you can’t stop. It felt so good. Laughter like that doesn’t happen quickly for me – I have to really know someone well to let myself go like that. But I do need more of it in my life.
Manuela Lopez says
Isn’t is sad that I don’t remember a time. So my much of my thoughts and attention has been on the sad and “serious.” I’m definitely going to go out of my way to notice the way God rejoices over me.
What a lovely way to start the day knowing our Father delights over us with joy, love and singing❤️
Beth Ewald says
I love your question of when the last time I really belly laughed and to be honest thinking now I can’t remember the last time. I guess that is exactly why I need this Bible study. I love the thought of Jesus singing over me. That brings me joy!!
Traci Brennan says
Of late, I have been feeling God’s joy when I watch my grandson prepare to marry his beloved. I take joy in the continuity of life and love.
I laughed so hard when my 8 yr old grand told me I embarrass her cause I’m so old and wrinkled….
Diana Marshall says
I have to say these books have inspired me to make changes in my life I plan on moving out of my parents place where I have lived since my wedding was cancelled 10 years ago and my late ex fiancee passed. I’m going to strike out on my own. I took a trip to Virginia to get closure on his death so many years ago and connect with who I was. On this trip my friends great dane was being so sweet wanting to play and licking my face I started laughing so hard. I haven’t laughed that hard in years. It was great. I have learned so much from these this study and Courageous Simplicity. I’m so grateful that these Bible studies came into my life
Elsie Kappler says
Wow and thank you Smile, laugh, love, always be joyful, be kind are mottos I like to follow. I love the verse in Zephaniah 3:17 it goes with my mottos. Joy is one of my very favorite words. One of my pastor’s said during a Thanksgiving service – “J Jesus O others Y yourself’ which does bring His true joy.
Someone just came into my office and I said I feel like I need to tell you this…and I proceeded to tell her. She started tearing up on me and I said, “Please don’t cry or you will make me cry.” I honestly felt like the Lord wanted me to tell her what I told her. That brought me such joy. She is very outgoing but is great at what she does. She then proceeded to tell me that someone cut her down in a very big way this morning. Then someone walked in behind her with an encouraging note. It has been a hard season for me to find joy as of late but that was it! It made me so happy to see her encouraged.
Laura Snyder says
I had a big old belly laugh on Sunday after a mishap at the automatic car wash. It was quite scary as it was happening but thankfully my husband was with me to keep me calm. Afterwards, it was all I could do to stop laughing about it.
Elizabeth Crawmer says
I can honestly say that most of the times I’ve laughed heartily in the last year have been instigated by my husband. He has a wonderful, clever sense of humor and always seems to know how to throw a one-liner out there to make me laugh. God has truly blessed me in this marriage.
Kristi Oakes says
The last time I belly laughed was when my family got to visit some friends in California and we played a game called gestures. The whole night we laughed and stress just melted away.
Dolores Gaona says
When I get together with my sister and we start talking about encounters we have experienced, we usually end up laughing so hard I can’t even speak. It’s always a good time hanging out with family. What gives me delight is the spontaneous actions of my grandkids when they say or leave me little notes or draw pictures that say “I love you!” My hope is that God is happy with the strong relationship our family has built between one another and that even when we have conflict or disagreements, the outcome is not a lengthy grudge, separation or a broken relationship, but a stronger bond & support system is created. I hope that delights him.
I recently laughed- a true joy-filled chuckle-witnessing my three kids’ reactions to my unexpected act of breaking out in dance to some “old” 80’s music. My oldest (in college) appeared concerned for my physical well-being for a second, before shaking his head and walking away. My middle (in high school) looked mortified- there may have been eye rolls and a heavy sigh. However, my youngest-(in elementary school) -my only girl- shrieked with happy surprise and immediately joined in because I am never “the fun mom.”
Margaret Shea says
May it help me continue to become closer to Jesus as I study a His word.
Linda Helms says
A few weeks ago I was sitting with my Mother(she lives with us) and she was trying so hard to think of what she wanted to tell me, but the words weren’t there. She knows she is having difficulty with her memory occasionally and the look on her face was priceless. I started to Amalie as she was thinking and we both burst into laughter.. belly Buster laughing and said we are going to find happiness in the hard❤️
Jewell Meyer says
a subject so timely…..our world needs revival and trust in Him
Betty Predmore says
I typically laugh with true deep laughter that brings me to tears when I am wi try my son and we get tickled about something. His laughter is contagious and makes my heart so happy.
Heather Reinmann says
Praise the lord for you newest Bible study.
Martha Troxel says
I laugh a lot, but it’s been a while since I have belly laughed.
Corey Elam says
Wow! Today I started a week of no Facebook. I’ve asked God to help me use the time I spend scrolling during the day, and do something else – something he wants me to focus on! I’ve spent my time so far researching some things for my son and then I open this email and it hits me – I need more JOY! Thank you for sharing!
Teresa Netz says
I’m looking forward to this study. Loved courageous simplicity! I’ve already ordered my book. I think it arrives today. Yay!
Teresa Netz says
Oops! I was so excited for this email. I became a new grandmother in August. My daughter had not been able to meet her new niece due to Covid & an auto immune disease. I knew she was longing to see that sweet baby & I prayed about it and trusted God. A couple of weeks ago she sent me a photo of her with her niece on her lap. I felt heard & loved by my Father. He had given us the delight of our heart!
Deborah Wayne says
Thank you for this opportunity to get a free copy. I look forward to diving into this study.
Ashley Flournoy says
I always laugh so hard when I’m with my friends. Together we can laugh till our cheeks hurt!! I would love to win this study to host a Bible study with my girls!!
Deborah Wayne says
I forgot to respond to a question. I haven’t had a good belly laugh in years. I can’t even remember what it was for. It was either with my mom, who passed away over three years ago or with my friend who I haven’t been able to see in over a yeat due to covid and her being in a nursing home.
I do have God and that is where my joy comes from.
Thank-you for sharing with us all…..
Blessings to you all,
Alice Read says
The close connection I have with my granddaughter brings me great joy. She says the funniest things that make us laugh together! Laughing alone is not nearly as much fun as laughing together with someone you love. It reminds me that God created us to have fellowship with Him, to share life together in a close relationship with Him, just for the joy of it.
So thankful for such spiritual support in times of uncertainty and a high call to have hope & courage in Him!
deborah tacker says
I can’t remember,it’s been a long time. I need it especially now.
Siv Ricketts says
I had a profound experience of God’s delight in me while practicing lectio divina on Monday of Holy Week. From Isaiah 42, I heard God say, “I am pleased…” I was outside on our deck, gazing at the trees that offer shade. The sunlight weaved its way through the branches. When I closed my eyes, sunlight danced on my eyelids. I felt its warmth combined with just a touch of gentle breeze. I heard birdsong and took deep, contented breaths. I felt God’s delight in me and his delight to be with me in my mind, heart, and body. I replied, “Yes, Lord, I am pleased, too. Thank you!”
Beth Williams says
It has been a long time since I really let go with a laugh. Life has been hard dealing with aging parents & their medical issues. Through in a furlough & job changes for myself & we’ve been down a little. When I feel we need some laughter I start a pillow fight. That alone gets us laughing & smiling-things we haven’t done in a while. Also last year in the midst of a pandemic I lost my pet iguana Tiny. He was old & had a cataract in one eye. The loss hurt & no one really to share it with.
Lately the weather is getting much nicer & things are looking up. Smiling a bit more now. Need to catch some of that joy of Jesus.
I have laughed so much this past six months. The little things, my grandkids playing, a funny joke, or just being so happy that I laughed. I have seen God delighted in me when I accomplished something or just something simple as smiling at my family. God is delighted when we are happy and showing our joy to others.
Carol Brown says
Looking forward to this book
The last time I laughed so hard we cried was not too long ago. My mom was imitating the turkey from the Bob Evans commercials. It was so good to hear my parents belly laughing. My dad has been going thru “all the things” the past year & half that come with a cancer diagnosis. But god was with us thru it all… the nurse liason in the waiting room, friends reaching out at just the right moment, protection & provision, coworkers who just happened to be at front door & those who left me notes. But God. ❤
Beth Stahl says
God’s loving delight over me is something I experienced recently in a time of grief over the passing of my mother and then my father. God reminded me of the way they loved and honored Him and shared that with me. I can now do the same with my children and grandchildren. God is so good.
Carmen Becker says
Joy is what I’ve focused on in the past 4 years. It’s taken this long to realize a sunrise with a one year old can lighten a room, a day, a family. I thank God each day for my kids, their kids and the community we live.
Regina Ross says
The last time I felt God’s personal delight was on my 25th wedding anniversary trip to Nashville. There were some unplanned stops that were definite God-winks. One night my husband and I stumbled across an Italian themed fountain show that opened with a song that my dad used to play on his accordion at family get togethers. Just one of the ways God showed that He was smiling down on us and telling us to keep going.
Kayleen Fuller says
Watching my twin granddaughters play. Especially last month with their first birthday and the reaction to the cake. I just laughed and laughed. They definitely bring me pure joy!
The last time I think I really laughed was during my kindergarten class a few days ago. We were talking about ‘what fills your bucket’, aka, what brings you joy, and I passed out bubbles to everyone. A room full of five year olds blowing bubbles and giggling their heads off, shrieking with delight…how could I not laugh, too.
I saw this and immediately said I’m not doing another bible study right now. I’m tired and just worn. But then I saw the scripture, Zephaniah 3:17. It’s my favorite. I have it inscribed on a necklace I wear almost every day. I need some joy. I need a LOT of joy right now.
Sheri Payne says
I cannot remember the last time I belly laughed.
Kimberly Brown says
Watching Arsenic and Old Lace with Cary Grant the other day with my husband was when I belly laughed and was filled with joy. We always love that movie and other old movies as special time together. You can find joy in your life anywhere if you just look. I have dealt with a lung disease this past year and not allowed to be around others and after one of the last sermons our pastor taught to not let anyone or anything “take your joy” that has been a part of my daily life. I am looking forward to your “Joy” book because I loved your “Simplicity” book!
Tammy Hahn says
First I deleted this email after reading but something kept telling me to come back and join the study. I will listen to what I heard 🙂
Debbie Jacobs says
This is been a difficult time for most people so I’m looking forward to digging into the joy that God is already prepared for me.
Just a few days ago I laughed so hard I could hardly read my brother-in-law’s comeback to something my husband had said. Brothers in their late 50s still harassing each other. Such a joy.
Brandi S says
I belly laughed so hard I was crying with my daughter this past weekend. She was in a ball red and in tears from laughing at a comment we made! It’s been a while so we needed that!
I love to laugh at silly memes.
Shar Miller says
When we were doing bible study the other evening, God puts scripture on our hearts that was not in the bible study! I didnt really belly laugh, but smiled in awe as I saw Him speaking to all of us who had gathered in His name!
Oh my, I laugh until I cry almost everyday with my husband. He is a retired military Veteran with disabilities yet he is the most joyful person in my life. He has a grateful heart and expresses it each and every day with love, jokes and laughter. He makes our daily challenges so much easier to navigate with his always optimistic attitude.
Theresa Holly says
I find the articles very hopeful. God is important in all our lives. I believe in the power of prayer–when I was 17 I had the last rites and prayers were answered and 2 years ago I had two heart operations. Prayers were offered on my behalf by friends and family and I survived. So I truly believe God listens to our prayers and the prayers of others
God bless and blessed Easter to all
Belly laughed so hard we cried with my son & a kiss about 2 years ago!
His younger sister thought to video it; so every now & then I resend it to my children so we can re-live that feeling of pure joy & laugh until the happy tears flow!
My sister and I end up laughing until we’re crying and can’t breathe – usually when we’re playing card games together. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her in person for an extended amount of time and I miss that
Carol Brown says
My sister has the book. How does she sign up for the study?