‘The joy that none can take away’

A Christian Science perspective: An understanding of God as Love itself brings joy and peace.

Years ago, with just weeks to go before my wedding, my fiancé phoned to inexplicably call off our engagement. I didn’t know how I would get through each hour, let alone the coming weeks. And because I knew my friends, family, and work colleagues felt terrible for me, I tried to hide my sadness to make it easier on them. But I was devastated and couldn’t imagine ever feeling peace, joy, or love again.

Christmas came midway between my broken engagement and our intended wedding date. I had volunteered to work the holiday, and that morning I got a message that flowers had been delivered for me. I ran to the lobby of the building where I worked, thinking that my fiancé had changed his mind. But halfway to the lobby, I stopped in my tracks. “You know very well that those flowers are not from him,” I thought, steeling myself for yet more disappointment. But then, as if on angel wings, came the inspired idea, “Does it really matter who sent the flowers?”

I realized that God is Love (see I John 4:8) and tenderly imparts infinite love to us, God’s spiritual creation, at every moment. And since all genuine, spiritual love has its source in God, no human action can stop it. Peace, joy, and love cannot be dependent on human circumstances. Divine Love just is – ever present and everlasting for everyone. The lovingkindness and thoughtfulness of whoever had sent the flowers were evidence of that love. But by outlining whom I thought the flowers needed to be from, I was limiting my view of where, how, and when love needed to be expressed in order for me to feel it. In reality, no one and no thing has the power to turn God’s love off or on, for me or anyone else.

So, who sent the flowers? This is my favorite part. They were from a friend of a friend who’d had a similar experience a few years before. Hearing of my circumstances had impelled her to reach out to me. Her kindness meant so much to me then, and still does. I felt loved and cherished, not only by this dear one, but by the God I could trust to always show me evidence of Love’s tenderness, especially when I seemed to need it most.

This experience put me on the right track toward healing my deep disappointment and sorrow, seeing the limitless expression of God’s love more fully, and feeling a diviner sense of joy and peace in my experience. It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight, but along the way I rejoiced and gave gratitude for the promise of complete healing, which I knew would – and did – take place.

We don’t need to feel that joy is elusive, just waiting around another corner but sometimes not actually attainable. No matter what our circumstances, we have the ability to experience peace, joy, and love at this very moment, because divine Love – their eternal source – is constantly and abundantly expressing itself. And we, as God’s reflection, innately possess and manifest these qualities already. We can feel and experience them tangibly right where we are.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Christ Jesus proved through his teachings and example that no circumstance is beyond the reach of divine Love’s tender hand. The Bible says that many were grieved when Lazarus died (see John 11:30-44). But this grief was short-lived. Knowing the source of life to be God, Jesus acknowledged God’s lovingkindness before any change in outward circumstances was apparent. Only after expressing gratitude to God did Jesus cry, “Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth.”

I like how a verse in the “Christian Science Hymnal” puts it:

I walk with Love along the way,
And O, it is a holy day;
No more I suffer cruel fear,
I feel God’s presence with me here;
The joy that none can take away
Is mine; I walk with Love today.
(Minny M.H. Ayers, No. 139, adapt. © CSBD)

Nothing can rob us of the manifestation of God’s peace, love, and joy. Even when faced with difficult circumstances, we can give thanks for and feel God’s love here and now, because we always walk with divine Love.

A version of this article ran in the Feb. 23, 2006, issue of The Foxboro Reporter and can be heard in the Feb. 14, 2017, Christian Science Daily Lift podcast.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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