The joy set before us
“Oh, be joyful!”
That was the first thing the Christian Science practitioner said when I called her as a young girl, asking for prayerful help in healing a painful condition. And the healing came quickly, as did the surprising realization that God loves me with consistency and joy. As I grew into adulthood, there were numerous times when I got to see how joy, brought on by understanding there can never be a separation from God, broke through the mesmerism of doubt, anxiety, and fear, and replaced it with a calm and confident assurance of God’s consistent love—and how this brought healing.
Trials and self-denials are a part of the human condition. And yet, in times of unrest, we can still expect to feel a Christlike joy. We need never despair. Joy can appear even in the most daunting of circumstances, and with that joy comes triumph. Trials can go deep and shake up the status quo. Trials can expose political and personal division and derision, but they can also bring us to something so fundamentally spiritual, bringing us to our knees in ways both humbling and hopeful, that we see things with new eyes. Trials can teach us the irreversible nature of joy that comes from understanding our equally irreversible oneness with God, which always triumphs. This is the joy set before us.
This was the experience of one of the most exuberantly joyful people I know. Raised as a Christian Scientist, he stopped practicing it as an adult. And then, through a series of highs and lows, including prison, he became homeless for years. At his lowest point, he had a heart attack, recovered, and then spent all of his efforts thinking long and hard about his life. He remembered something of the joy he had experienced in Christian Science, and he decided to go to a Church of Christ, Scientist, not knowing how he would be received.
When he arrived, the church’s usher gave him a warm welcome, and after the service, the usher invited him to come back. Feeling the love, the welcome, and the possibility for experiencing good, he continued his visits to the church. He put the shame and regret behind him, and he took up the study and practice of Christian Science and ran with it. His growing conviction of God’s unstoppable and unconditional love humbled and emboldened him, and led him to a full street ministry, helping others who were homeless. His joy blossomed into a joy invulnerable to setbacks. Regaining a sense of his worth as the loved of Love, he wanted to do more. He became a Sunday School teacher, and his students quickly grew to love him. Next came the full-time practice of Christian Science, and soon, he became a practitioner listed in The Christian Science Journal. Love for God and his fellow man spilled over in embracing those from all walks of life.
His account illustrates a lesson about joy and facing trials learned from Christ Jesus’ example, set out in Hebrews 12, verse 2, which reads, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Spiritual joy, with its sole source being God, is perpetual, flowing on through even our most challenging times.
What is it about this joy? Because Christ Jesus understood his oneness with God and God’s supreme love for all mankind, he could fulfill God’s will with joy and conviction, dismissing the shame as he took up the cross. He knew the result of his cross-bearing would give to all mankind the glorious victory and freedom that come from knowing our oneness with God, wherein lie all possibilities for good. Abingdon Bible Commentary defines joy in the context of this verse from Hebrews as “an emphatic signal of the triumph of life. Wherever joy is, creation has been, and the richer the creation the greater the joy.” Christ Jesus’ work was the greatest creative act of all in bringing the joy of understanding our oneness with God, resulting in salvation to mankind, saving the sinner, and healing the sick. In fact, healing is proof of Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
Our oneness with God underlies all healing. This is our triumph song that drowns out error until error cannot be heard anymore.
Our unity with God means that we know and love God just as He knows and loves us. This empowers us to feel and to express joy, irrespective of circumstance. At the onset of a particular challenge, we can make an important shift from identifying with the division and separation from good, God, to realizing our unity with God. This results in a victory of harmony in both individual and collective expression. Even if our victory seems small, we can feel joy. Spiritual joy, with its sole source being God, is perpetual, flowing on through even our most challenging times.
Mary Baker Eddy shares: “It may be that the mortal life-battle still wages, and must continue till its involved errors are vanquished by victory-bringing Science; but this triumph will come! God is over all” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 22). As long as we are in the human condition, there will be challenges and opportunities to overcome them. But we need never despair because God’s love for us never fails.
Christian Science brings out the law of our oneness with God, taught and demonstrated by Christ Jesus. And through the understanding of this law, we have the means to overcome any challenge. This leads to the greatest creative acts of healing and redemption, and the greatest joy.
Kim Crooks Korinek