Vibrant Mental Health is a term I use for total well-being — emotional, relational, and spiritual.  (The bible suggests that this kind of wellness will also have a positive impact on our physical health!)  Sometimes I call this well-being “emotional wellness”, but in this entry I’ll call it Vibrant Mental Health (or VMH).  VMH comes from experiencing a life of fulfillment, inner peace, and satisfying relationships.  It’s what Jesus called a “rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10, NLT).  Paul called it being “complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (Ephesians 3:19).

So how does VMH relate to “Walking with Joy”?  As I mentioned in my last entry, for many years I wondered how to experience joy even in difficult times, and how to obey the biblical passages that tell us to “rejoice always” (such as Philippians 4:4 and James 1:2).  In 2004 I made a stunning discovery:   God has given us his “roadmap to joy” in one concise passage!  Where is it found?  In the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10!   In fact, the Amplified version of the New Testament renders the first beatitude this way:  ”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 poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” Wow!  That “life-joy regardless of my outward conditions” is exactly what we’re all looking for!

Before we move on to talk a little more about how the beatitudes help us experience joy, let’s talk about the term “Vibrant Mental Health”   Where does this come from?  Emotional, spiritual, and relational well-being – or Vibrant Mental Health – comes from:

  • Longing for a deep relationship with God and deciding to live his way
  • Continually acknowledging and repenting of sin
  • Being fully in tune with God, living in obedience to him
  • Trusting that he loves you and will always be there for you
  • Surrendering to him and to other people because of your trust.

The bible includes several passages that suggest this kind of well-being will show on the face!  Examples include Psalm 34:5, where David writes that, “Those who look to him  for help will be radiant; their faces will never be covered with shame.”  When Moses came down from the mountain, having been in the presence of God, he put a veil over his head because his face was shining so brightly (Exodus 34:29).  Just before he addressed the Sanhedrin, Stephen looked up to heaven, and his face shone like the face of an angel (Acts 6:15).  Finally, in 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul writes, “We who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness.”  Now I’ll share a few more gems about Matthew 5:3-10, that passage we call the beatitudes.

Since writing  Discover Joy in 2009, God has continued to open my mind and heart to the extraordinary power of this passage.  Here are some of the incredible insights he’s provided:

  • God loves and passionately wants to bless us.  That’s why the first words of Jesus’ first sermon in the first book of the New Testament are about how to be blessed!  To be “blessed” is to be sanctified, made holy, or to be given something wonderful.  Consider:  surely, he chose to begin his first message with earth-shattering words!  He could have said, “Here’s how to go to heaven.”  Or, “Here’s how to please God.”  Or even, “Here’s how not to be like the Pharisees!”  But instead, he choose to talk about God’s desire to bless us.  Amazing! What an incredible window into God’s heart!
  • Being blessed doesn’t depend on our outward circumstances or wealth.  How could I possibly be blessed if I’m homeless or if I have terminal cancer, or if I’m enslaved, or in prison?  But Jesus says I simply need to be “poor in spirit” — to admit that, in my own power, I’m unable to be “good”.  To see my sinfulness and inability to please him and how desperately I need God.  And so, to turn wholeheartedly to him in complete surrender.  (In our pride and worldliness it’s very hard to admit we’re not “good enough”.  That’s because we base our self-worth not on God but on our success or the approval of other people.)
  • God’s way to be blessed is counterintuitive — it’s contrary to what society teaches and what we usually think or assume.  Who but Jesus would say that mourning, or being poor and meek is a “blessed” state?  (This message requires a deeper look!)
  • Being blessed is a choice – so it’s within our control!  We can choose blessing by growing to become the person Jesus describes.  In Deuteronomy 30:19, God says, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses.”  God is completely fair!  As the perfect Father, he tells us exactly what we must do to experience the consequences we desire.
  • The beatitudes are a message of great encouragementbecause God’s blessing is within reach no matter who we are, what we’ve done in the past, or what circumstances we’re in!  (We sometimes view the beatitudes as a “downer” because of our worldly view that “success and wealth bring happiness”, but Jesus’ view is completely inclusive!)
  • The basic theme of the beatitudes is that the more we see and acknowledge our weakness, the more God gives us strength and power through his Holy Spirit.  This power then enables us to fully use his gifts to honor him while giving us a life of passion, purpose, and power!
  • Beatitude living not only makes us right with God, it helps us love other people (even the “difficult ones”!), and have satisfying relationships with each other.  Jesus said the most important commandments were to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength — and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30).  Jesus gives us the “how-to” in his beatitudes:  the first four beatitudes help us love God with great passion and commitment; the second four make it possible for us to love each other!
  • Spiritual fruit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control — blossoms in our lives as we live the beatitudes each day*.  In fact, each beatitude logically leads to a different spiritual fruit, and together, they lead to the ninth beatitude, which happens to be my favorite one — JOY!  🙂