REJOICE regardless -- in spite of everything, be joyful. It really is possible to follow this advice. The one and only true God is a God of joy. Man's true nature is spiritual, the likeness of God. Knowing this, we come to see that joy is indeed normal. The Bible tells us in Psalms, ``This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.'' It doesn't say we'll rejoice and be glad if the weather's good, or if we're feeling fine, or if business is booming. It simply says we'll rejoice and be glad, for no other reason than that creation -- including us -- is God's.
A man I know was asked, ``Why are you happy?'' and he replied, ``I've tried being miserable, and didn't like it.'' He wasn't being fa-cetious or foolish. He'd known miseries, severe miseries. He'd learned from experience that being miserable achieves nothing. He'd found a better way -- God's way -- and that included joy.
Doing what's right according to God's law is intelligent action, and expressing the joy that comes from God is practical wisdom. In the Bible we read of two early Christians' being imprisoned for their faith. But they refused to be imprisoned mentally. They sang praises to God. We're told in the book of Acts that suddenly there was a great earthquake, the foundations of the prison were shaken, all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were loosened. Their spiritually-based joy wasn't shaken by adverse circumstances. Rather, their joy transformed their surroundings.
Joy liberates and heals. Because it expresses God, Spirit, it lifts burdens of sorrow and grief. But we have to claim it to find these blessings.
My mother was a widow with two small sons at a time of severe economic depression. The outlook was bleak. There was no money left, little food in the house. It seemed she'd nothing to spend. Then she remembered a hymn she'd heard, a hymn of joy.
It's in the Christian Science Hymnal, and the first verse begins:
Father, we Thy loving children
Lift our hearts in joy today, Knowing well that Thou wilt keep us
Ever in Thy blessed way.
The last verse ends:
...Share Thy joy and spend it freely.
Loyal hearts can feel no fear; We Thy children know Thee, Father,
Love and Life forever near.
She took the message of the last verse to heart, ``Share Thy joy and spend it freely,'' and gave herself an encouraging smile inwardly. She could see that she didn't need to worry about spending joy -- she could freely let God-derived joy go out to bless. At that moment there was a knock at the door. A kindly neighbor came in with some hot food. From that time on, things improved.
In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love.'' Genuine happiness is of God. God is Truth and Love. God is Spirit.
Happiness based on Truth and Love regenerates, restores, heals. Far from being a human emotion attained when human problems are solved, spiritual joy is our starting point.
Christ Jesus has been referred to as a man of sorrows. He faced severe trials. He was maligned, persecuted, and crucified. But through it all, more than anyone else, he embodied and reflected God's all-loving nature. He healed multitudes through the love of God he expressed. He certainly knew the power of spiritual joy, for John records that just before the crucifixion he comforted his disciples, telling them, ``I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.''
There is one God, one heavenly Father-Mother. Man is made in God's likeness. We each, in our true nature, embody the spiritual qualities of our Father-Mother God, including the quality of joy. No one is excluded. We are all God's children. Our job is to live this truth, to put it into practice.
A decision to be spiritually joyful despite every argument to the contrary can be the wisest decision you or I ever make. It can bring peace and healing to our lives, and to the lives of others. Such a decision is not an act of willpower. It's a declaration of spiritual independence, an affirmation of absolute Truth and Love, of God's goodness.
It is right for you to be happy, and to share your joy with others. Today, as God's child, you can rejoice. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. BIBLE VERSE Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. ...Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. ...And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:1, 4, 7