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Everything looks marvelous, Marcia! Things are progressing perfectly.” Contrary to Hope, I almost feinted with relief! can apprehend, nor should we pretend to have it. It is not ours. It is HIS! We are strengthened by HIS Joy. We are not to pretend to have His Joy, nor to presumptuously project a wished for emotion, that is not really in our heart. Neither is it to be a mantra of Positive Thinking, to be repeated in ficticious “happiness”. Our strength comes from what brings Joy to the Lord… not necessarily what brings Joy to me. The Lord’s Joy is founded in our Repentance and our Obedience. Just as in the days of Nehemiah (8: 1-12). Just as explained by the direct words and parables of Jesus Christ (Luke 15.7-32). The Joy of the Lord is not dependent upon my circumstances. In fact, He will use circumstances to test my personal strength, in order that I rely solely upon Him. And subsequently be Strengthened by His Joy over matters of Eternal Significance…not mere matters of my personal pleasure. Consequently, our trials, tribulations and testing come by His Grace…for our own eternal good.

The prophetic Word had been given years before…indeed, back in 2006.

“Do not be afraid…for your prayer is heard… And you will have Joy and Gladness, And many will rejoice at (her) birth.” Luke 1.13

From that moment, we knew we would have another child, and it would be a girl. We held onto that prophetic Word, and we held onto her name spoken through those verses: “Alegria da Graca! (Joy Grace in Portuguese)”. Through the ancient testimony of Sarah and Abraham, God established an anchor in His Word for the days, months and years ahead. Thoughts, feelings, and painful circumstances would contradict the prophetic Word. Since that time, Marcia would suffer through her second, and then a third miscarriage. Age, infirmity and weariness would weave a web of Hopelessness, which seemingly trapped the Prophetic Promise in eternal suspension. At times, we would not be experiencing much “Joy” waiting for the promised little one. The Lord graciously provided another profound proverb to strengthen and sustain us. “..the Joy of the Lord is your Strength.” Nehemiah 8.10

It is one of the most commonly misunderstood and misapplied verses. As we would come to understand over the next several years, the “Joy of the Lord” is not something we

The day after confirmation of our promised child’s conception, our hearts betrayed our “Joy”. We had the mixed emotions of elation and experience. Joy and elation for the prophetic Word’s germination. Anxiety and trepidation from our prior painful experiences of miscarriages and difficult births. And so again, by the Grace of God, that very day He planted another living anchor in our lives…once again through the foundational testimony of Abraham and Sarah… “...who, Contrary to Hope, in hope Believed...” Romans 4.18

Seven simple words. Remarkably reassuring us and setting a spiritual anchor for the long months ahead. We knew what it meant. We knew there would be a battle. We knew it was our test to elevate “Hope” to its highest, eternal level. Hope not based upon Sight and Circumstances…but Hope based upon Belief in Him…in direct Contrast to Circumstances. In order to exhibit and exercise Belief, God purposely places us in Unbelievable Circumstances. In order to cause us to rely upon HIS Joy over Eternal matters, God will allow our temporal and carnal Joy to be inadequate and extinguished. And so, by the Grace of God, our own “unbelievable” and “hopeless” circumstances quickly came.

Just three months into Marcia’s pregnancy, what temporal Joy we had, quickly evaporated in one phone call. A sobering message from the doctor’s office: “You need to come in immediately for an amniocentesis. There are abnormalities in your blood test.” It was a Hopeless situation. We sighed in resignation. Not to defeat, but rather to muster up whatever was left in us to stand in Faith. Marcia responded to the head nurse, “I will not be coming in for that test. It makes no difference to me what those tests will say. Whatever baby the Lord gives me, I will cherish. I am a Christian. And I don’t even consider abortion!”

It wasn’t convincing enough for the medical professional, so the calls continued. Unabated for three weeks! Finally, Marcia went down to the physician’s office and spelled it out to the nurse as clearly as only a “Brazilian momma” can at times! The calls relented…but the warfare did not. We had to wait another month before another ultrasound could be done. The enemy continued pressing and poking at the “Hope” we held in our hearts. Hope for Life. Not Hope for a perfectly formed child. We dared not request or require that of the Lord. We simply held Hope that the Joy of this new life would be borne in due time, and give Glory to the Lord. The month moved forward at an agonizingly slow pace. As we waited in the ultrasound room, the enemy played havoc with my heart. I remember Marcia telling me just a weeks before (at her first ultrasound), her discussion with the ultrasound technician. Marcia innocently asked how he handled “bad news” with the women under his care. He said, “I just tell them to see their doctor for the results. I don’t say anything else. And I don’t give them the report.” This day, I watched the man’s every move…every flicker of his eyes…every subtle expression on his face. Contrary to the Hope in my head, I felt hopeless in my heart! He said virtually nothing…unlike prior times, he seemed frozen in professional silence. Then he abruptly stood up and said, “Everything is okay. You can get your results at the doctor’s office. I’ll send them over myself.” My heart fell out of my chest. For the next two days, I put on a brave facade…but inside I was desperate. Marcia seemed quite confident and calm. I was a mess inside…and dared not reveal my deceptive, wavering heart and emotions. In my mind, I emphatically clung to the anchor of God’s Word: “Contrary to Hope, in Hope believed.” But the “reality” pressed in hard and furious: “abnormal blood test”…“you must come in immediately for an amniocentesis”…“I’ll forward the report to the doctor’s office.” All I could do was hold onto the anchor, the Word of God…and pray. I shared our situation with the Pastors and Ministry Leaders. They committed to pray fervently. And when they pray, mountains are moved! I wasn’t feeling very Joyous or Graceful at the doctor’s office. This was Marcia’s first appointment since her refusal to undergo the amniocentesis. I felt pregnant!…with all kinds of imaginations, fears and follies floating in my mind, heart and stomach. My only remaining strength was this: knowing the Lord’s eternal Joy over my salvation, Marcia’s salvation and this child’s destiny. The doctor sat down at his desk and reviewed the results, reports and scan. Looking up quite casually, he then said, “Well, your blood test…it’s wonderful! You’re in the 85th percentile for your age group. Marvelous!” Then he looked at the scan…“Absolutely perfect! Everything is in place, the spine is well formed, the head measurement is normal.

And so Alegria Grace’s living testimony began in the womb. Either the interpretations of the head nurse (regarding the blood test) and radiologist were purposefully clouded to test our Belief, and steal our Joy…or…the Lord changed the results of both the blood test and the scan. Either way, the Lord accomplished what He pleased!…our strength had been sifted, strained and drained until we stood solely only upon Him! The “unbelievable”, the “hopeless” circumstances, had caused us to look up to Him, and stand on His Word…in Belief. The evaporation of our own Joy, had caused us to remember and rely upon His Joy Eternal…Joy that changes not with mere carnal Circumstances. Indeed, it is through the crucible of testing and trials, that we receive the Grace of God…to conclusively lay personal claim to the Truth of His Word, His promises, His prophesies…and the Strength of His Joy. Abounding Grace and Joy is ours to have and to hold…in the midst of the Valley of Tears. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Tears, They make it a spring. The rain also covers it with Blessings. They go from Strength to Strength.” Psalm 84.5

And so, “Alegria Grace” is with us today… not just in our hands…but also in our heart!


Everything looks marvelous, Marcia! Things are progressing perfectly.” Contrary to Hope, I almost feinted with relief! can apprehend, nor should we pretend to have it. It is not ours. It is HIS! We are strengthened by HIS Joy. We are not to pretend to have His Joy, nor to presumptuously project a wished for emotion, that is not really in our heart. Neither is it to be a mantra of Positive Thinking, to be repeated in ficticious “happiness”. Our strength comes from what brings Joy to the Lord… not necessarily what brings Joy to me. The Lord’s Joy is founded in our Repentance and our Obedience. Just as in the days of Nehemiah (8: 1-12). Just as explained by the direct words and parables of Jesus Christ (Luke 15.7-32). The Joy of the Lord is not dependent upon my circumstances. In fact, He will use circumstances to test my personal strength, in order that I rely solely upon Him. And subsequently be Strengthened by His Joy over matters of Eternal Significance…not mere matters of my personal pleasure. Consequently, our trials, tribulations and testing come by His Grace…for our own eternal good.

The prophetic Word had been given years before…indeed, back in 2006.

“Do not be afraid…for your prayer is heard… And you will have Joy and Gladness, And many will rejoice at (her) birth.” Luke 1.13

From that moment, we knew we would have another child, and it would be a girl. We held onto that prophetic Word, and we held onto her name spoken through those verses: “Alegria da Graca! (Joy Grace in Portuguese)”. Through the ancient testimony of Sarah and Abraham, God established an anchor in His Word for the days, months and years ahead. Thoughts, feelings, and painful circumstances would contradict the prophetic Word. Since that time, Marcia would suffer through her second, and then a third miscarriage. Age, infirmity and weariness would weave a web of Hopelessness, which seemingly trapped the Prophetic Promise in eternal suspension. At times, we would not be experiencing much “Joy” waiting for the promised little one. The Lord graciously provided another profound proverb to strengthen and sustain us. “..the Joy of the Lord is your Strength.” Nehemiah 8.10

It is one of the most commonly misunderstood and misapplied verses. As we would come to understand over the next several years, the “Joy of the Lord” is not something we

The day after confirmation of our promised child’s conception, our hearts betrayed our “Joy”. We had the mixed emotions of elation and experience. Joy and elation for the prophetic Word’s germination. Anxiety and trepidation from our prior painful experiences of miscarriages and difficult births. And so again, by the Grace of God, that very day He planted another living anchor in our lives…once again through the foundational testimony of Abraham and Sarah… “...who, Contrary to Hope, in hope Believed...” Romans 4.18

Seven simple words. Remarkably reassuring us and setting a spiritual anchor for the long months ahead. We knew what it meant. We knew there would be a battle. We knew it was our test to elevate “Hope” to its highest, eternal level. Hope not based upon Sight and Circumstances…but Hope based upon Belief in Him…in direct Contrast to Circumstances. In order to exhibit and exercise Belief, God purposely places us in Unbelievable Circumstances. In order to cause us to rely upon HIS Joy over Eternal matters, God will allow our temporal and carnal Joy to be inadequate and extinguished. And so, by the Grace of God, our own “unbelievable” and “hopeless” circumstances quickly came.

Just three months into Marcia’s pregnancy, what temporal Joy we had, quickly evaporated in one phone call. A sobering message from the doctor’s office: “You need to come in immediately for an amniocentesis. There are abnormalities in your blood test.” It was a Hopeless situation. We sighed in resignation. Not to defeat, but rather to muster up whatever was left in us to stand in Faith. Marcia responded to the head nurse, “I will not be coming in for that test. It makes no difference to me what those tests will say. Whatever baby the Lord gives me, I will cherish. I am a Christian. And I don’t even consider abortion!”

It wasn’t convincing enough for the medical professional, so the calls continued. Unabated for three weeks! Finally, Marcia went down to the physician’s office and spelled it out to the nurse as clearly as only a “Brazilian momma” can at times! The calls relented…but the warfare did not. We had to wait another month before another ultrasound could be done. The enemy continued pressing and poking at the “Hope” we held in our hearts. Hope for Life. Not Hope for a perfectly formed child. We dared not request or require that of the Lord. We simply held Hope that the Joy of this new life would be borne in due time, and give Glory to the Lord. The month moved forward at an agonizingly slow pace. As we waited in the ultrasound room, the enemy played havoc with my heart. I remember Marcia telling me just a weeks before (at her first ultrasound), her discussion with the ultrasound technician. Marcia innocently asked how he handled “bad news” with the women under his care. He said, “I just tell them to see their doctor for the results. I don’t say anything else. And I don’t give them the report.” This day, I watched the man’s every move…every flicker of his eyes…every subtle expression on his face. Contrary to the Hope in my head, I felt hopeless in my heart! He said virtually nothing…unlike prior times, he seemed frozen in professional silence. Then he abruptly stood up and said, “Everything is okay. You can get your results at the doctor’s office. I’ll send them over myself.” My heart fell out of my chest. For the next two days, I put on a brave facade…but inside I was desperate. Marcia seemed quite confident and calm. I was a mess inside…and dared not reveal my deceptive, wavering heart and emotions. In my mind, I emphatically clung to the anchor of God’s Word: “Contrary to Hope, in Hope believed.” But the “reality” pressed in hard and furious: “abnormal blood test”…“you must come in immediately for an amniocentesis”…“I’ll forward the report to the doctor’s office.” All I could do was hold onto the anchor, the Word of God…and pray. I shared our situation with the Pastors and Ministry Leaders. They committed to pray fervently. And when they pray, mountains are moved! I wasn’t feeling very Joyous or Graceful at the doctor’s office. This was Marcia’s first appointment since her refusal to undergo the amniocentesis. I felt pregnant!…with all kinds of imaginations, fears and follies floating in my mind, heart and stomach. My only remaining strength was this: knowing the Lord’s eternal Joy over my salvation, Marcia’s salvation and this child’s destiny. The doctor sat down at his desk and reviewed the results, reports and scan. Looking up quite casually, he then said, “Well, your blood test…it’s wonderful! You’re in the 85th percentile for your age group. Marvelous!” Then he looked at the scan…“Absolutely perfect! Everything is in place, the spine is well formed, the head measurement is normal.

And so Alegria Grace’s living testimony began in the womb. Either the interpretations of the head nurse (regarding the blood test) and radiologist were purposefully clouded to test our Belief, and steal our Joy…or…the Lord changed the results of both the blood test and the scan. Either way, the Lord accomplished what He pleased!…our strength had been sifted, strained and drained until we stood solely only upon Him! The “unbelievable”, the “hopeless” circumstances, had caused us to look up to Him, and stand on His Word…in Belief. The evaporation of our own Joy, had caused us to remember and rely upon His Joy Eternal…Joy that changes not with mere carnal Circumstances. Indeed, it is through the crucible of testing and trials, that we receive the Grace of God…to conclusively lay personal claim to the Truth of His Word, His promises, His prophesies…and the Strength of His Joy. Abounding Grace and Joy is ours to have and to hold…in the midst of the Valley of Tears. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Tears, They make it a spring. The rain also covers it with Blessings. They go from Strength to Strength.” Psalm 84.5

And so, “Alegria Grace” is with us today… not just in our hands…but also in our heart!


Contact Paul and Marcia Cowley Email:paul@disciplesupport.org marcia@disciplesupport.org Phone from USA: 011-254-733-609-066 Skype: marcia.cowley

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Joy of the Lord  

Disciple Support Ministries Newsletter

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