“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955)
For many people, joy is never to be taken for granted; indeed for most. There are far too many flavours of abuse and neglect that the many wrangle with by the intrusion of their memory. Those with mental health challenges know, possibly most of all, how much joy—when it arrives—is to be cherished. But even those with very average pasts will also struggle sustaining their joy. Of course, most of us believe that joy is sourced in God. But then, what about those who believe in their Lord, yet fall fast and deep and frequently into the chasm of despair?
It is just too easy to make assumptions about the experience of joy—to simplify life too much and thereby ostracise faithful people who have challenges beyond their making.
But we may also consider that no matter how much we may battle with mental illness, like depression and anxiety, there is also fleeting, even lasting, joy to be experienced.
Stabilising Joy By Building the Momentum of Peace
Joy and peace do coincide. Where there is joy there is also the reality of peace. And it is peace that we all so desire. Peace underpins all of what we value in life so far as our spirituality is concerned.
So when joy is experienced because of peace, we want more peace so we can experience more joy. Such a state of enhancing joy seems possible when we are riding the wave of joy.
The insurance of joy can be thought of in terms of building the momentum of peace.
The more we can exist within the bounds of peace, enjoying the stillness of mind, the restfulness of heart, and the tranquillity of soul, the more we stabilise our joy.
Where Does God Fit in?
In discussions of joy and peace we miss the mark when we leave God out of the picture. Our Lord is the Provider of joy and peace, through the investment of faith and obedience. And still there are people, in all manner of circumstances, who faithfully obey yet still struggle for joy and peace. Again, they may appreciate more than most the role of God in advancing the availability of joy and peace.
Perhaps it is the faithful believer who has a constant on-again-and-off-again struggle with depression and/or anxiety who is able to distinguish the value of retaining joy.
For those that struggle in achieving joy, riding its wave, whilst joy remains, is the priority of life. Their hunger for joy is known to God and God will give them their ability to ride the wave of joy, more and more, as they learn to not give up on joy as well as not giving up their learning of themselves. Mastery of peace and joy is possible.
Entreating the circumstances of joy and/or peace is about God-provided wisdom. Where we have an attitude of learning, and we are committed to not giving up, we can enjoy riding more the wave of joy.
Joy is the wave which is generated by the sea-swell of peace. Such peace is the basis of spiritual space where perspectives of joy may be seen. Riding the wave of joy is about experiencing peace; the gift of God’s stilling Presence.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.