Beyond Ourselves

Our folk songs announce that we have arrived at the “merry, merry month of May”, when the sunshine is warmer, the evenings are lighter, and the natural world is full of energy, colour and its own display of prosperity.
A daisy pushes through a crack in the concrete and the robin sings in full-throated self congratulations over his nest of little ones in his own image.
“See! The winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth. The season of singing has come. The cooing of doves is heard in our land.”
Can we catch the mood? Maybe we identify with the man who declared, “I am always happy SOMETIMES.”
Despite the conflict and adversity that is documented on a daily basis, is it possible to preserve a reservoir of optimism, a source of happiness that has a different origin?
Two of the nation’s favourite veteran comedians used to sing that happiness was the greatest thing that they possessed. Indeed, in their own unique way, they tried to spread a little of that treasured asset. Yet, a definition of happiness may prove to be as diverse as the personalities around us. It can be elusive, transient and circumstantial, gifted or snatched away in a passing moment. Whilst one soul longs for the quietness of solitude, another would recoil from the misery of loneliness and seek comfort in the bustle and throng of city life and family togetherness.
So, is the quest for happiness all a pointless delusion, or can we secure that inner reservoir of hopefulness, not shunning reality, but being replenished and deepened?
Almost four decades ago, the late Pope John Paul 11 exclaimed, “We are an Easter people and Hallelujah is our song.”
He captured the resurrection spirit, a divinely implanted spring of hope that fortifies against the withering heat of adversity and inspires creative solutions.
Writing to the early church in Rome, the Apostle Paul expressed his own experience of true spiritual happiness. For him, it described the joy of being enfolded in the warm embrace of God who offers peace, reconciliation and wholeness. “We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:11.
What does it mean to joy in God THROUGH our Lord Jesus Christ? What are these special blessings?
Firstly, God has taken the initiative in our time of need. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Here is provision, unmerited and beyond anything we could supply for ourselves.
Secondly, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”
Thirdly, “Blessed (and happy) are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sin is covered; the one whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Romans 4:7
So the love of God towards us deals with the past, the present and the future, everything known about us, everything paid, everything secured for times yet unknown.
Yes, there is another kind of joy that is beyond understanding, but very real, our Father’s gift.

“Jesus Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed
With joy shall I lift up my head.” (Zinzendorf. 1700-60).

Iris Niven

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