Paul urged the early Christians to rejoice. ''Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.'' n1 He advised them to be glad even in tribulation, and he surely practiced his own preaching when he and Silas rejoiced and sang hymns at midnight in prison, with their feet ''fast in the stocks.'' They were rewarded with liberty. n2
n1 Philippians 4:4.
n2 See Acts 16:19-40.
Christ Jesus also spoke of the necessity of expressing joy. At one time he told his disciples, ''Your joy no man taketh from you,'' n3 indicating that joy is a spiritual quality that can no more be taken away than can love or integrity.
n3 John 16:22.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes, ''Sorrow is turned into joy when the body is controlled by spiritual Life, Truth , and Love.'' n4 Mrs. Eddy and her students demonstrated this joy in the healing of many difficulties, and Christian Scientists today heal discord, following Jesus' teaching and example.
n4 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 14.
''Life, Truth, and Love'' are Biblically based terms for God. And because God is always present, there is no reason for us to lose our joy, even though circumstances may suggest there are very powerful reasons. Genuine joy is based on a perception of the real and eternal, of man's perpetual status as God's blessed image.
At one time I had a very painful condition for several weeks in my arm and shoulder, which prevented me from getting much sleep at night. What bothered me even more was my inability to move the upper arm in the slightest. Saying nothing about the situation to anyone outside my home, I continued to go to the office every day. I asked a Christian Science practitioner to pray for me and to help me see that the condition had no power to rob me of my joy and freedom. There was some lessening of the pain, but as time went on I began to feel rather sorry for myself because there was not an inch of improvement in the mobility of the upper arm.
Then one day I also had a second physical problem, unrelated to the trouble with the arm. For a while I felt that I would just have to give up and go home. Instead, however, I decided not to give in to these preposterous evils - for in Christian Science we learn that evil is actually illegitimate, powerless, despite its apparent forcefulness and substantiality. This is because it's not a product of the infinitely good and loving God, our Father-Mother. Our work is to prove this - so here was my opportunity!
I went about my duties, expressing joy and inwardly claiming my right to freedom as God's loved child. Late in the afternoon, while working at the copier , I suddenly realized that I had raised my arm from the shoulder - not with complete freedom, but this was something I hadn't been able to do at all for weeks. Also, the new physical trouble vanished soon after I had taken my strong spiritual stand. Much encouraged, I phoned the practitioner and told her of the progress.
Feeling deeply grateful, I prepared to go to church to the Wednesday testimony meeting, held weekly in Christian Science churches. As I walked along, I heard behind me a beautiful tenor voice singing. The pure joy of his song gave me such a lift that I couldn't help turning and saying, ''What a beautiful voice you have!'' The young man thanked me and said he had recently given his first recital, and that it had been so well reviewed in the paper that he couldn't help singing for pure joy! I felt so happy for him. With a strong conviction of the presence of joy and freedom everywhere, I walked into the church. The helpful, healing testimonies I heard there brought me great inspiration.
After the meeting, my arm and shoulder were normal. I knew it was God, and the joy that comes from Him, that had set me free. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious . . . O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved . . . Verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer, Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me. Psalms 66:1, 2, 8, 9, 19, 20