The fallout from today's population explosion has many disturbing facets. For someone wanting to pray about the problem, the temptation to scurry back to the relative manageability of one's personal concerns can seem almost overpowering. But to accept evil and suffering of any kind, especially of this magnitude, as irremediable, as impervious to prayer, is contrary to the basic spirit of Christianity.
We have no record that Christ Jesus ever wrote off any situation as beyond God's power. Mass hunger, a violent storm, death itself - whatever the challenge , Jesus responded with a confidence in God's controlling power that met the human need. ''The things which are impossible with men are possible with God,'' n1 he is reported to have said at one time. And at another: ''If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.'' n 2 It's this attitude - the very opposite of passive surrender - that Jesus commended to his followers.
n1 Luke 18:27,
n2 Matthew 17:20
Let's say, then, that we've decided to pray about this challenge instead of simply shrugging our shoulders and not thinking about it. Where do we begin? The problem seems the outgrowth of so many conditions: lack of education, counterproductive government policies, religious viewpoints, to name only a few. Rather than get bogged down in the details of this complex issue, we might instead begin our prayers with the acknowledgment of some fundamental spiritual truth. We can, for example, insist on the fact that God, divine Mind, intelligently controls and governs His creation, including man. The Lord's Prayer clearly points to this truth: ''Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.'' n3
n3 Matthew 6:10
Bringing children into the world under circumstances where there seems to be little prospect for adequate food or shelter - the basic necessities of life - does not express God-derived wisdom. Isn't some phase of human will the basic culprit when having children merely reflects, among other things, a husband's desire to prove his virility, the parents' fear of not being provided for in old age, or the subservient status of women? Human will, the confused and murky negation of divine intelligence, is the supposed absence of divine will, and it pretends to be man's true thoughts and impulsions. Its essential nothingness is exposed only through an enlightened recognition that God's will - loving, wise, promotive solely of harmony - is the only genuine governing force there is. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, offers this spiritual interpretation of the words from the Lord's Prayer quoted earlier: ''Enable us to know, - as in heaven, so on earth, - God is omnipotent, supreme.'' n4
n4 Science and Health Pg. 17
That man has a will of his own apart from God, that he can be unresponsive to divine wisdom and be the instrument of his own undoing, runs directly counter to the truth of man that Jesus came to reveal. Though the material senses may portray man as merely flesh and bones, with a materially based intelligence conditioned for better or worse by his cultural environment, prayer reveals the fact that God, the parent Mind, is the only real source of impulse and volition and that man is inseparable from this Mind. This spiritual fact is expressed through reason and enlightened self-government. Our prayers can bless everyone concerned with the population issue: workers for family planning agencies, policymakers in the world's capitals, and ourselves.
A recent series on overpopulation in The Christian Science Monitor cited a number of women who found the courage to defy cultural pressures to have more children and took steps to limit the size of their families. Whether or not individuals choose such a course, perhaps this is an indication that the world is feeling to an increased degree the need to approach this problem thoughtfully. There is a divine influence at work.
Famine, war, pestilence, or governmental coercion - these do not have to be ultimate solutions to the problems raised by overpopulation. God has a remedy that will bless mankind, that doesn't include tragedy. Through prayer that remedy can come increasingly to light. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to allgenerations. Psalms 100:5