Attitude of gratitude
It's all a matter of how we look at life. If we look for the ugliness in all things we will find it: If we look for the beauty in all things, we will find that too.
I remember sitting before a panoramic view of snow-capped Canadian rocky mountains rising from behind an aquamarine blue lake. It looked heavenly!
A group of nursing home residents were gathered behind me looking at the same breathtaking scene. I heard an attendant say to an old woman sitting in a wheelchair, "Aren't those mountains beautiful, Mrs. Pewe?"
The old woman scowled and replied, "I don't see anything beautiful about them." She turned her wheelchair away from the scene. Mrs. Pewe was aptly named.
Mrs. Pewe was the most pitiable of people not because of her wheelchair or even that she was in ill health. She was pitiable because she refused to see beauty in anything.
If she was blind to majestic mountains that towered up in front of her to declare the splendour of God's creation, how could she possibly see or even detect God's presence in life's daily routines? Her interior poverty was complete.
Does your attitude bring a stench or an aromatic bouquet to the lives of people you encounter or live with? How we respond to that question is like a gauge for the state of our spiritual lives.
Christ is the great liberator and man's ultimate source of joy. If Christ abides in us then joy can be present regardless of our physical state or station in the world. I have experienced this first-hand.
Joy is not dependent upon favourable circumstance or positive experiences. That's happiness. Happiness is a poor imitation of joy. Joy can exist within us despite miserable circumstances. Joy is rooted in our destiny and identity.
Adopt a joy-filled perspective
In his letter to the Romans,
Paul goes on to speak about God transforming us into the image of his Son. In other words, life's circumstances and experiences – be they positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant – can be used to transform the individual experiencing them to be more like Christ, if the individual loves and trusts God.
When we finally stand before him, and gaze upon his glory as it really is, we shall be overcome with continual and unrestrained joy.
It is easy for modern man to discount the prospect of joy because it's become such a rare thing in the world. But why wouldn't modern man discount the prospect of joy? He denies the very things that can bring real joy to humanity, such as confession and forgiveness of sin, or child-like faith and anticipation of heaven.
C.S. Lewis said, "Joy is the serious business of heaven." And so it is. I have discovered that there are inklings of joy in its anticipation. When we place our hope in Christ and anticipate being with him in the joy of eternity, we will soon discover ourselves looking for the beauty in all things, especially that which is eternal.
The eternal decision
Do not be afraid to acknowledge the existence of heaven and hell. Both Jesus and the Scriptures tell of their existence. In one we will find beauty in all things. In the other, we will find no beauty whatsoever. We have only a short time to decide which it shall be: Christ and heaven or the devil and hell. If you have not already, turn your eyes upon Jesus. He's only a prayer away.