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When things don't work out

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MOST of us reach points in our lives when the next step in our progress seems to be quite clearly outlined to us as a proper thing to happen. Perhaps it's a promotion, a business opportunity, or an engagement to marry someone we dearly love. As we examine our concept of this next step not only from the standpoint of our own development and desires but also--as best we can--from the standpoint of those who must cooperate and benefit along with us, it can seem so ``right'' that we may feel impelled to pray to God for His help. Christians, of course, learn from Christ Jesus' teaching and example not to pray for specific things to happen (even though it may seem right for them to happen) but to pray, ``Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.''1 To pray for God's will to be done is to subordinate our own desires and sense of rightness to His and to be willing to accept His impartial judgment as being in the best interests of all. Maybe we've done this to the best of our ability, and the step that seemed so right for us hasn't happened. If so, we might watch that the temptation to believe God has let us down--that we should have relied more strongly upon human means than upon His law-- doesn't turn an opportunity for progress into an occasion for letting in the resentment and bitterness that lead to stagnation.

Does God ever let us down? Does His law ever fail? The human sense of things, dominated as it appears to be by the carnal mind, blind to God's ever-presence, will argue that God is always letting us down and that His law--if it exists at all --is a relatively weak influence on human affairs. But Jesus' entire mission was the supreme demonstration of how powerless the human sense of things is to obstruct the action of God's law when God is prayed to understandingly and His reward is confidently expected. As the author of Hebrews put it: ``He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.''2 The rewards of Jesus' prayer were not so much things or events as they were a lessening of the blindness to Love's ever-presence that had caused the people he healed to suffer.

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