Gladness played an integral part in the healing of a man who once edited The Home Forum section in which these articles appear. He was healed, through prayer, of a form of paralysis that left him unable to walk or even stand for almost 10 years. Doctors had said that there was "little likelihood of cure."
As a fellow journalist, I came to know this man, Peter, quite well. And I loved to hear him tell the story of his first foray alone into the big wide world after being bedridden for so long. That day, he hobbled with crutches onto a city bus, where a churlish, ill-tempered man sat down beside him and showed displeasure at Peter's smile.
"We've all got something to be grateful for, haven't we?" Peter volunteered.
"Like what?" growled the man.
"Well, you could be grateful you have money for the bus, or you would be walking."
"I suppose you have everything you need!"
"No," Peter said to him, pointing to the crutches that were tucked along the side of the bus, "this is the first time I've been out alone in many years."
"Oh, so you're glad just because you're here?"
"No, I'm here ... because I was glad."
Later, Peter explained that through all those years of patient prayer and anticipation of healing, he did have much to be glad about. He always felt spiritual progress going on. He said that as he prayed, "great spiritual joy filled me - joy that God governed and nothing could interfere with His purpose of present perfection and satisfaction for all.... The recognition of good's allness and evil's nothingness followed and irresistibly took charge of the physical condition" (see "A Century of Christian Science Healing"; Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1966, pgs. 156-157).
There are no fewer than 124 variations of the word glad in the King James Bible, 21 of them associated with the word rejoice. Perhaps the best-known expressions of gladness are found in the psalms. To take just a few examples: "I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee" (9:1, 2). "The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him" (64:10). And, "For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands (92:4).
The decision to "be glad" - to wrap ourselves in "the garment of praise" spoken of in the book of Isaiah (see 61:3) - involves a choice. We decide whether to put on that garment or not. This is not just a "What do I feel like wearing today?" kind of choice; it's a thoughtful decision, based on the knowledge and the understanding of God.
We can learn to know God through a study of the experiences of the prophets, recounted in the Hebrew Scriptures. And of the character and nature of Christ Jesus, through his teachings and healings recounted in the four Gospels. There we find that God's love is unconditional, His mercy never ending, His power able to overcome all the problems that we face today.
In a poem describing these "glad tidings," Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote: "Saw ye my Saviour? Heard ye the glad sound?/ Felt ye the power of the Word?/ 'Twas the Truth that made us free,/ And was found by you and me/ In the life and the love of our Lord" (see "Christian Science Hymnal," No. 298).
Even if we procrastinate - if we just feel unable to be glad - we can be encouraged by the fact that God works "in us" to achieve what will please Him, inspire others, and promote our best growth (see Phil. 2:13-16). If we're willing to be glad, God will help us to uncover that gladness, and to live it so convincingly that others will be warmed by the glow!
The advent of the Christ brought extraordinary joy and light to the world. This light continues to benefit humankind, making it possible for anyone who loves God to exchange sadness for gladness and suffering for healing.
You can visit the home page of The First Church of Christ, Scientist: www.tfccs.com