Joy, Not Suffering

ONE morning at work I began to feel ill, and when I left for lunch I didn't think I'd make it back that afternoon. I began to pray and went to my apartment nearby. As a student of Christian Science, I regularly study the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. This book includes a chapter that provides the spiritual significance of a number of words found in the Bible. As I was praying, part of one of these descriptions came to thought: ``...a sense of Soul, which has spiritual bliss and enjoys but cannot suffer.''1

I was surprised to think of this phrase because I knew it referred to the word bride, a symbol sometimes used in the Bible. What did being a bride have to do with how ill I felt? But as I thought deeply about the phrase, I realized it was relevant. It was showing that spiritual-mindedness -- that sense which perceives the spiritual qualities of God and His creation -- can only be happy and can't suffer. Think, for example, of the joy of the spiritually-minded in Christ Jesus' parable of the kingdom of heaven. Because these were the ones who ``took oil in their vessels with their lamps,''2 they were ready to meet the bridegroom when he came. This spiritual sense of readiness discerns the goodness, holiness, and peace of Soul, of God. And if that's what such spiritual-mindedness senses, then that's what the spiritually-minded can experience.

I saw that because man possesses an innate sense of Soul, of the presence of God and His divine attributes, I could feel the joy of health and peace right at that moment. In a few minutes I got up, well. I went back to work for the afternoon grateful for the love and power of God that had brought this healing and very inspired by the spiritual insight I'd gained.

You could say that in the deepest spiritual sense, we are each the ``bride'' of Soul, that is, wedded to God as His expression, forever inseparable from His infinite goodness. The Bible reveals the true relationship man has with God. As God's expression, man is truly spiritual. He is not in bondage to a physical body or the physical senses but is governed by God, Spirit, alone as His idea, His offspring.

We can come to better understand this true nature, as we exercise our innate spiritual sense by discerning the goodness, love, purity, intelligence, and other spiritual qualities being expressed around us. Because God is ever present, we cannot fail to find the evidence of His presence, which comforts us and others with the light of joy and peace and health.

As we exercise our innate ability to discern and express God's goodness, we will experience genuine ``spiritual bliss.'' And because it has God as its source, this kind of bliss is lasting and liberating. What a refreshing contrast to the temporary and unreliable, selfish pleasure of material sense! Self-centered pleasure dissipates quickly, leaving us unhappy, unsatisfied, sometimes feeling guilty or even ill. On the other hand, through spiritual sense, which leads to unselfish, compassionate living, we enjoy ``but cannot suffer.''

Each of us has the opportunity today -- right now and always -- to turn to the fulfilling, healing evidence of true reality that we discern through spiritual sense. We may slip back into mistaking the physical senses to be our source of joy more often than we intend or would like, but because it is truly natural for us as God's expression to reflect spirituality, we can learn more and more to depend on spiritual sense and experience the joy that does not suffer.

1Science and Health, p. 582. 2Matthew 25:4.

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