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When You Need Joy

Updated: 3 days ago

by Aarti Sequeira


The past few years have drained my joy. We bid adieu to our hometown of twenty years. The reemergence of a health issue we believed long-buried tested our faith. Breaks in a decade-long friendship have left me cautious about new ones. I look back at my joy with longing, but also skepticism: good things don’t last forever.


This is a hard thing to admit, my friend. By all accounts, the thing y’all respond to when you watch me on TV or social media is my joy! If my joy tank continues to leak, then what do I share with you all? 


And yet, when I look a little closer over the years since the Good Lord called me by name, I realize that there has always been one thing or another sapping my joy. Family catastrophes, financial struggles, even two bouts of postpartum depression. Through it all, whenever I got to communicate with you all, a genuine joy overtook me. What you’ve seen over the years is real—as I always tell my husband, I’m a journalist by training, not an actor. I can’t fake it. So, where does that joy come from? Let’s figure it out. 


Much of creation is still a source of great joy: the soaring cliffs and majestic ocean of Big Sur, California; a baby laughing so hard she nearly loses her breath . . . If we have eyes to see it, joy is God’s bailiwick.


“Joy is the serious business of heaven.” C. S. LEWIS


The Bible talks of a joy built on a certain future, where the tension within us is resolved. Waiting on that joy is, in and of itself, part of the joy. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness empowered by the joy awaiting them in the promised land of milk and honey. The angel announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds with rejoicing over what He’d do for them in the future. Today, we wait with anticipation for His return when all will be made right in the world and in our hearts.


“So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” JOHN 16:22 NLT 


If you’ve ever journeyed on I-95 between North and South Carolina, then you might understand this anticipation of joy, in the unlikely form of a pitstop named “South of the Border.” This larger-than-life roadside attraction is as massive as it is loud, its faux-Mexican theme informing the design of the two-hundred-foot high Sombrero Observation tower, the Hot Tamale restaurant, and yes, even a Reptile Lagoon! This year, my husband told the girls that on our way back from our spring break trip to Charleston, South Carolina, we’d stop. The girls screamed with joy. About one hundred miles before South of the Border, the billboards began. A hand-drawn flamingo cried, “You’ll be tickled pink! South of the Border. 31 miles!” Another says, “World’s Number One Miniature Golf! 16 miles!” Still another, bedecked with a giant hot dog, declares, “You never sausage a place! 2 miles!” 


With every sign, the girls yelled louder, the anticipation building until they were fit to burst! They were filled with joy even though they weren’t there yet, because their destination was assured. Every sign of their impending arrival only increased their joy! Do you see how this mirrors our own experience as travelers on The Way? The journey may be arduous, but we keep our eyes peeled for the signs, and those signs cause us to rejoice. And when we reach the exit ramp, we rejoice even more because we get to exit here, by no effort of our own!  


The joy of the Lord is our strength. What is this joy? It’s the joy not of the past nor the present but in the future! It’s the joy of anticipating a reality that’s both now and also not yet. And it’s that joy that strengthens us through the trials we’re embroiled in. Much like the wait for South of the Border—every mile we cross, every year that goes by, brings us closer to the place of joy unlimited. 


When we lose our joy, we lose sight of our hope. When we lose sight of hope, we lose our hold on faith.


We might even walk away from our relationship with God. I don’t want to over spiritualize, but if there is an enemy of our souls, stealing our joy would be an easy Jenga tile to pull. How do we protect our joy? 


“I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices. You will make known to me the way of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” PSALM 16:8–9, 11 NASB


The writer set the Lord in front of him as he scanned the horizon. Think of how an Instagram filter changes the way we see ourselves. On a much more profound level, looking at the world through the lens of Christ allows us to properly assess our lives. How does this present trial stack up against the promise we have in Him? In His presence is not just joy, but the fullness of joy—in Hebrew, the word used indicates satiety. His is the joy that fills us to the brim and will never run dry. It overwhelms our sadness and washes away discouragement. When it feels like there’s so much brokenness that there’s no room for joy, this joy reminds us that He is a banquet, an all you can eat! If I set Him as the filler of my joy tank, it will never run dry because He never runs dry. That means I will always have joy not just to strengthen my walk, but to share with you all. And it isn’t any run-of-the-mill joy. This is the good stuff, the creme de la creme, VIP joy, the kind that can only come as a gift from the Holy Spirit. This is the joy that is available to you and to me, beloved. Set Him before you. Look for the signs. And enjoy the ride. Our exit is coming soon! 


Bombay Gnocchi 


I. Love. Potatoes. That creamy, fluffy starch that readily absorbs nearly any flavor you throw at it? Or the crispy snap of a fried potato? What about the gentle bounce and chew of a potato dumpling? Potatoes are oh-so flexible, and oh-so ready to please, which is why they fill me with so much joy. One of my favorite preparations hails from the town of my birth, Bombay: It’s a simple enough preparation, gilded in turmeric, cumin seeds, lots of lemon juice, and cilantro. But that combination fills my heart with joy. What could be better? Using prepackaged gnocchi, and finishing it with a shower of Parmesan cheese. Yeah. That’s better. 



1 1-pound package gnocchi 

¼ cup ghee + 2 teaspoons extra 

¾ teaspoons black or brown mustard seeds 

¾ teaspoons cumin seeds 

1 serrano or jalapeño chili, minced (seeds and membranes removed if you don’t like heat) 

¼ teaspoon turmeric 

½ teaspoon lemon juice

1½ teaspoons sugar 

¼ cup minced cilantro 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese 



  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with enough salt that it tastes like ocean water. Add the gnocchi and cook to package directions. Remove gnocchi with a spider or slotted spoon to a paper towel–lined sheet pan. Save about ½ cup of gnocchi water. 

  2. Place a large skillet over medium high heat. Warm ghee on medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Allow them to sizzle for a few seconds, then add the gnocchi. Toss well to coat, and cook, without moving too often until they start to turn crisp and golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. 

  3. Move gnocchi to the perimeter of the pan. Add extra ghee to the center of the pan, and add green chili and turmeric. Pull gnocchi back to the middle of the pan, and coat in the seeds, chili, and turmeric. Cook, stirring and flipping the gnocchi frequently, about 1 minute. 

  4. Sprinkle with lemon juice, sugar, and cilantro. Toss to coat very well. Finish with a last sprinkle of salt and pepper, and parmesan if desired. Serve immediately! 



Unwind: A Devotional Cookbook for the Harried and Hungry

How are we supposed to get it all done? Day in and day out, we’re being pulled in 20 different directions. And then, right in the middle of it all, someone asks, “What’s for dinner?” and we either want to give up and go to bed or run to the kitchen and try to throw something together. But what if the kitchen became a safe haven? A reset button? The place where we meet with the One who offers peace, rest, hope, goodness and strength? In Unwind: A Devotional Cookbook for the Harried and Hungry by Food Network Star Aarti Sequeira, readers will find 50 coordinating devotions and recipes for when they need a fresh start. For when they need to wind down. For when they need sustenance. Any cook is sure to find an entry that will give them exactly what they need to reset, recharge, and ready themselves to enjoy a delicious meal with the people they love.

Aarti Sequeira is a cookbook author and food personality. A mainstay on Food Network, she won Food Network Star with her unique style: American favorites with Indian soul. A passionate Christian, she speaks about overcoming fear and the sacred nature of breaking bread. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and children.


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