I was talking to a friend who had been very discouraged about some difficult family matters, and especially about her young daughter who was being impacted in a very negative way. As a mother, I know how hard it is when your child is not doing well. I watched my friend get more and more discouraged to the point that I could see her own health was being jeopardized by the anxiety and stress.
I was reminded that when God brought the Israelites out from their oppressive captivity in Babylon that He promised they would "go out in joy and be led forth in peace" (Isaiah 55:12). He was showing us that if we're going to come out of dark places like she was in, if we're going to stand under the trials of life, we have to come out with joy and walk in peace. We have to use joy to deliver us from anxious thoughts, defeat and discouragement. Joy is the key, and it's inside us.
So when I went to encourage my friend toward joy, I just started joking around with the intent of changing the atmosphere in her mind so she could open up to what God wanted to say to her. Once we started to laugh, the atmosphere changed and she started to lighten up. Then I began to tell her about the promises and the goodness of God, which really tap into the joy. I said, "I know you're worried about your daughter, and that's certainly understandable, but you have to trust that God has given her the grace she needs to go through what is impacting her. He hasn't given you the grace that she has. He's given you the grace to go through your own issues as well as to help her through hers. But you can't help her through it with a long face of discouragement. God wants you to stir up your joy!"
When the Israelites left Babylon and returned from captivity, they didn't know all the difficult things they were going to face. But if they could go out with joy, that joy would be there to keep them in peace. No matter what you face, don't let life push your joy down. Push your joy up and let it flow out and signal your victory!