I realized with shock that I don’t recall the last time I felt a surge of pure joy. I’m drawing a blank. Rack your brain to recall a recent moment of childlike amazement or pleasure. I’m not the only one having trouble picking out bliss amidst the blur of the pandemic. Like the smoky haze currently hanging over the provinces, my feelings are foggy. In the high-speed blender of the last year and a half, have we lost our emotional orientation?
Words like rapture, elation, ecstatic and wonder exist, but how often are they actually experienced? Rare as a unicorn sighting - definitely not as common as they should be. How many of us could recount an example of the keenest unexpected pleasure (PG, please), verbatim? We’re given our five senses to glean the world’s delights, but pain, sorrow, rejection or failure seem more indelibly etched. Trauma is retained with all its razor-sharp edges, so why can’t bliss spring to the memory just as vividly? Some discrepancy there.
Without argument, we could all use way more joy. Spirit-filled Christians should be swimming in the stuff; tripping over it! Why aren’t we? I’m generally pretty mellow and good spirited, but that’s not the same as unmitigated, piercing gaiety or deep, weighty contentment intermingled in the flow of the ordinary. Without being annoyingly Polly-Anna-ish, shouldn’t there be a little more positivity and pleasure as a general rule?
Maybe finding and staying in joy is difficult because we’re not looking for it in the right places. Jesus taught a radically new mindset to those steeped in religion and started a spiritual revolution. The sermon on the mount is really the ancient path to locating the sweet spot and staying in it.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Matthew 5:1-12
The Amplified Bible brilliant lets us into the understanding of the word “Blessed” emphatically repeated.
Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—[with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the pure in heart….
The Greek word is makarios meaning, “to be supremely blest; fortunate, well off: and by extension, therefore, happy(-ier). It makes the automatic assumption that righteousness produces joy. “Blessed” is the condition where one has already entered paradise, and is expected to manifest the environment here on earth. Humility, meekness, submission, mercy, peace-making and the other virtues described slowly teach us how to be peacefully situated in a kingdom we do not control. They give us the confidence to actually deny negative emotion. We make the choice not to accept the vexation, aggravation, offence or other negatives that circumstances try to impose; joy killers. We don’t have to drink the world’s venomous kool aid.
Jesus unmistakably emphasizes that both success and elation are automatically produced by blithely walking in the Spirit. What if we’re on cloud nine more than we think we are? Recognizing supernatural, supernal well-being is probably less about our feelings, and more about not resisting the Lord’s emotional equilibrium. Assimilate His joy, ‘cause He’s got a ton of it. The Lord is supremely contented, undisturbed, and overflowing with love. How many times does Jesus admonish us to “Be of good cheer” because He has overcome the world (John 16:33)? Why, then, are we so bent out of shape?
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory… 1 Peter 1:8
When all is said and done, the levels of our cheerful hope, gratitude and positivity are directly proportional to the amount of time spent in His presence. He’s become the well of salvation our joy is drawn from (Isaiah 12:3). His joy is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
Just take a moment and remember you’re the apple of His eye. That ought to make you ecstatic.
You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
cb Image by Bing