Abiding in joy

When things get tough, happiness can feel out of reach. But there’s a deep, healing, spiritual joy that God imparts to all of us that we can feel in circumstances of all kinds.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
Loading the player...

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labour of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17, 18, New King James Version).

The writer of this Bible verse paints a pretty bleak picture – maybe not unlike the lack and concerns that some are facing today. But as I was reading this recently, the little word “yet” suddenly shone like a light. In spite of nothing yielding any productivity or growth, this prophet, Habakkuk, was joyful.

To me this points to something we can all experience, through prayer: joy stemming from a deeply anchored trust in God’s powerful goodness, regardless of the way things look right at a given moment.

The joy I’m talking about is not grinning and bearing it or a surface “don’t worry, be happy” approach. It is an indispensable and permanent spiritual quality whose substance is found in God, divine Soul – which is another Bible-based name for God highlighted in Christian Science. God gives joy without measure to all of His children. This is a spiritual reality that holds true in all circumstances. Even the gloom of Christianity’s darkest moment – the crucifixion of Jesus – had to ultimately yield to the joy of God’s supremacy seen in the resurrection.

Because such joy is derived from Soul – the one true source of everyone’s spiritual individuality – it is as ever present as Soul itself. It can’t be snatched away by changing circumstances and conditions. Hopelessness and discouragement that would snuff out joy become powerless to influence our thinking when we grasp that God, infinite good, doesn’t cause such feelings.

Is expressing joy consistently too high a goal? For me, there have been days when it’s felt pretty unreachable. But I’ve also seen that joy is in fact attainable even in difficult situations.

While joy can be lively and radiant, I felt it as a quiet steadiness in an experience I had some time ago. I had become ill with a severe cough that included extreme weakness and weight loss. At one point there was a fever that incapacitated me.

Although there were times I felt discouraged, my prayers felt buoyed by a quiet sense of uplifted joy that echoes the biblical idea that God “answers and corresponds to” the joy in our hearts – that “the tranquillity of God is mirrored” in us (Ecclesiastes 5:20, Amplified Bible, Classic Edition).

Mary Baker Eddy who discovered Christian Science, wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “If the disciple is advancing spiritually, he is striving to enter in. He constantly turns away from material sense, and looks towards the imperishable things of Spirit. If honest, he will be in earnest from the start, and gain a little each day in the right direction, till at last he finishes his course with joy” (p. 21).

What this says to me is that the sincere willingness to consistently look to God, Spirit, to light our path brings joy even in the midst of struggles. Whether the experiences of the day are good or not so good, this approach helps keep thought God-focused and open to divine inspiration that heals.

During this period, I felt the value of this. As I prayed, actively affirming God’s caring presence and power, my thought was consistently lifted to a tangible sense of joy and gratitude for and trust in God. It was like a lens through which I saw clearly my unity with God as His loved daughter, purely spiritual and whole. Healing felt inevitable – and when the healing did come, of course I rejoiced.

The situations we find ourselves in can vary enormously, yet we can always cultivate a deep-seated rejoicing in the goodness of God. Such joy keeps us ready and prepared to see the renewing and refreshing power of good pervading every aspect of our lives.

Some more great ideas! To hear a podcast discussion about how you can support our military with healing prayer, please click through to the latest edition of Sentinel Watch on www.JSH-Online.com titled, “Praying with and for the military.” There is no paywall for this podcast.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

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.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Abiding in joy
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today