God always place every thing we need to be what He meant us to be within our reach. Every treasurable resource we require to turn our life around is right there at this very moment. But we often miss those treasures because they’re always hidden, God has a tendency of putting them beneath the wreckage of our life experiences. All we need, therefore, is the touch of grace to find them.
Many of us think something or someone from out there must do something first for us to be fulfilled. But we often get disappointed because we search for happiness in the wrong places. As Jesus said fulfillment comes from within us – in our heart and mind. He said the springs of living water that gives unending life, peace, joy and love always flow from within us and overflow to those around us (John4:14).
How can we turn this tap of joy from within us, then? We will get into it later. But first, let me refer to a familiar story.
Russell H. Conwell once told an ancient famous story of Ali Hafed, an affluent Persian who owned a very large farm with orchards, grain-fields, and gardens by the river Indus. Throughout his life Hafed was a contented man until one evening when he learned of precious diamonds from a visiting Buddhist priest.
In short, the old priest told Ali Hafed that if he had one diamond the size of his thumb he could purchase the county, and if he had a mine of diamonds he could place his children upon thrones through the influence of their great wealth. On hearing about diamonds and how much they were worth, Ali went to his bed that night a poor man and could not sleep a wink. He had not lost anything, but he felt poor because he compared what he had with what he could have if he had piles of diamonds. From that night on Ali was determined to own a mine of diamonds so that he can be really happy.
In the morning Ali asked the visiting Priest how he could find diamonds. “Well, if you will find a river that runs through white sands, between high mountains, in those white sands you will always find diamonds”. Said the Priest. “I don’t believe there is any such river.” Ali said, “Oh yes, there are plenty of them. All you have to do is to go and find them, and then you have them.” The Priest replied.
So Ali sold his farm, left his family with a neighbor, and away he went in search of diamonds.
His search was thorough and intent. He searched in vain from the Mountains of the Moon, to Palestine, and finally into Europe. On the shore of the Spanish Barcelona bay shattered, hungry, in rags and penniless, Ali threw himself into the incoming great tide, and he sank to death beneath its foaming crest.
The irony is that the diamonds Ali was searching for were actually in the very farm that he once owned. Not long afterwards from the white sands of the very stream From that same field was discovered the diamond-mine of Golconda, the most magnificent diamond-mine in all the history of mankind. The Kohinoor, and the Orloff of the crown jewels of England and Russia, the largest on earth, came from that mine. Had Ali Hafed remained at home and dug in his own cellar, or underneath his own wheat-fields, or in his own garden, he would have discovered ‘acres of diamonds.’ For every acre of that old farm,yes, every shovelful, afterward revealed gems which since have decorated the crowns of monarchs.
Our mind (heart) is the field through which joy and satisfaction flows. Being a feeling, contentment (joy) is a result of OUR perception or thinking. Contentment is a feeling of a joyful satisfaction with what you have or about what is happening around you. It is not all about what you have but all about what you think you should have relative to what you have. As far as satisfaction is concerned OUR thinking is the most important factor. So when we are discontent about anything our perception, not the things , are to blame.
It’s true that in order to have pleasure you need a stimulus -something to turn you on so to speak. But joy is different from pleasure. Pleasure is largely physiological. It is a pleasing sensation that results from a physical stimulus. Levels of pleasure can be achieved by change in a stimulus. This change can either be due to an introduction of a positive (pleasant) substance, state or circumstance (such as food, material possessions, career, or status,sex, drugs etc) . It can also be the elimination of a negative (unpleasant) stimulus such as pain, loss or discomfort. According to the experts proportionate pleasure is healthy but too much of it can be adictively lethal.
Unlike pleasure, joy is mainly psychological. It is an appeasing sense of peace, calm and gratefulness that stems from an appreciation of value or meaning (the extent to which something is perceived to serve needs or improve the overall quality of life). Self-esteem is a measure of how one feels about one’s self worth. As human beings our wellbeing varies with our self-esteem. Our wellbeing improves when we realise our life – our very existence and things around us –is valuable, meaningful and important.
To be worthwhile something does not need to be pleasurable. In fact, it is easy to overlook vintage stuff such as gems and antiques because they don’t appeal to the eyes of a layperson. It takes a quality mind to appreciate quality. Ali Hafed’s successor had diamond in his house and many more in the fields. But to him the diamond was just another sparkling stone until when his understanding changed. I’m sure even Ali Hafed himself must have seen the diamonds in his field many times but could not recognize them.
Value is an abstruse virtue that demands forensic mind to realise. In the Holy Scriptures this forensic mind is called grace or Holy Spirit. To be born again simply is to have grace open (renew) your mind and help you see the extraordinary from the ordinary. Our diamonds – the things that we need to be fulfilled – are always close to us than we think. But God hides them in things and situations that seem to be useless, ordinary or trivial. The reason why many of us fail to appreciate our diamonds is because our minds are yet to be renewed.
Great things are born out of small things. Sadly many of us think for anything to be of great significance it has to be promising, spectacular, exciting and foreign (it must come from afar). But evidence shows that things that end up being great are the very things that initially seemed to be anything but promising,spectacular, exciting or foreign.
God does not create or keep useless things. Everything that exists has value even if that value is unknown. The fact that you exist is all you need to know that your life matters. Others (and even you yourself) might not appreciate you but that does not diminish your worth in any way. One great thing that grace does is to help us realise that nothing just happens. When the Holy Spirit finally opens our spiritual eyes we cease to take things for granted. Instead, we begin to appreciate everything that we see or experience.
My sincere prayer is that may the eyes of your understanding be opened to appreciate the precious life that is already within and around you.