One of the children of the church once had surgery, and it occurred to me to take a “get-well-soon” balloon to her.
The Health-Aid store in New Haven carries a variety of gift balloons with accompanying themes, and inflates each balloon with helium gas when you make your choice. I exited the store that day with one tethered to my index finger lest it ascend and soar cloud-ward with the blustering wind.
I placed the balloon in the back seat of my 1973 Chevrolet to corral it long enough for the delivery. Starting along the road, it bounced around energetically as though looking for a way to escape its cramped quarters. It soon found the way.
The flow of wind through the driver’s side window caused it to float up to the front seat on the passenger’s side and then left, right in front of my face. I attempted to swat the flying-gas filled balloon away from me, but the gushing wind current caught hold of it and swept it right out the window. All I know is that it went up. The effect of the uplifting contents proved most effective.
It is in retrospect that I find exemplified in this experience a Scripture-based resolution for real life issues concerning the daily emotional pressures bearing down on one’s outlook and perspective. As we are encountered by others, we are usually asked how we are, about which we typically reply in terms of being “down” or “up.”
People that are “down” have usually been emotionally pressured in the soul to feel negative reactions to outward circumstances. Such feelings tend to sap the senses of well-being, peace and/or security, and the lack thereof causes the inner braces of the emotion to deflate.
For the Christian, on the other hand, God has an inflating grace to aid us in the daily deflations of life, and even keep us from the persistent deflations of depression and despair. In other words, we can actually live more “up” than “down” if we faithfully tap into God’s uplifting grace.
That which inflates the human soul with great effect when utilized is the joy of the Lord. The Word of God has much to say about joy, which is best stated in Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The joy of the Lord is that experience of the heart, mind and soul ministered to by the inspiration, reward and confidence of God. In other words, God ministers joy to us with such inspiration so as to inflate our sense of well being come — pardon the intensity of expression — hell or high water. God ministers joy to us with such uplifting effect that our lives rise above feeling no lack of anything needful. God ministers joy to us with such uplifting confidence that nothing can sap our courage to face victoriously whatever confronts us.
Thus, joy enables one to rise above circumstances. Joy enables one to rise above times of sorrow and grief. Jesus Christ, who is characterized as a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” exemplifies it best.
Think about that for a moment. Our Savior was often opposed. He was radically ridiculed. His life was constantly on the line. Yet, He possessed such a spiritual quality of joy that He was prompted and propelled by it to do what was necessary to bring salvation. The joy set before Him under-girded endurance despite dire disappointments.
The effect of joy’s uplifting content proves most effective. But, the key to experiencing the joy of the Lord goes beyond faith in the effect of it. It has all to do with attitude. That balloon I bought would have never risen to whatever height it arose if it had closed itself off from being inflated with the helium. The same is true for us. God will not force-inflate a person whose attitude is bound and determined to be grounded with spite or sorrow.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.