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When Progress Is Slow

ONE of the biggest challenges that many of us face at some point is the feeling that we've reached a dead end, that there's nowhere to go, no way to progress. And we would probably identify the problem as more than a ``feeling.'' We'd call it a ``fact.'' That ``fact'' may seem irreversible, especially if our situation appears to be the result of circumstances beyond our control. Yet the Bible's very practical teachings can help us get beyond the feeling that progress is impossible. St. Paul said: ``Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.''1 Paul's words point to the fact that progress is both individual and a matter of divine law. His words point to the loving presence of the one supreme God, who ensures our progress and from whom we're insep-arable.

Because God is good and He has not abandoned us, dead-end situations are not what they seem to be. They're not in accord with divine reality, with the way God actually created man. And they aren't hopeless.

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Are God's offspring nothing more than the victims or beneficiaries of circumstance? It may appear so, but such a concept denies the wisdom of the creator. It denies His care for man. And it denies man's true status. As the Psalmist said, referring to God's creation of man: ``Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.''2

As we can learn from the Bible, God created man as the very manifestation of His perfect being, as His spiritual likeness. The picture of a victimized mortal, unable to progress, is far from that likeness. Therefore it's not the final word on who we are or what our possibilities are. It's not the truth. We have the God-derived ability to move forward, to deny the supposed authority of the moment's circumstances and work out our salvation under God's guidance.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, says: ```Work out your own salvation,' is the demand of Life and Love, for to this end God worketh with you. `Occupy till I come!' Wait for your reward, and `be not weary in well doing.' If your endeavors are beset by fearful odds, and you receive no present reward, go not back to error, nor become a sluggard in the race.''3 And in another place she writes encouragingly, ``If one lives rightly, every effort to hurt one will only help that one; for God will give the ability to overcome whatever tends to impede progress.''4

Whatever our circumstances at the moment, we can move forward morally and spiritually and thereby prepare the way for whatever outward adjustments are needed. Even under trying conditions we can strive to worship God more wholeheartedly. We can express the divine nature more fully through following Christ Jesus' example of purity, compassion, wisdom, meekness, and so forth. This is progress in its most concrete sense, because an outward shift, of itself, means little unless it's the result of inward change.

Yet the appropriate outward progress will come along as we take more and more to heart the fact that progress, in its truest sense, is a matter of divine law and that we have the right to work out our own salvation -- that in fact it's an inescapable demand.

Certainly life's challenges teach us to be compassionate toward others and toward ourselves as well. Patience and great moral courage are often needed as we face the sometimes harsh circumstances of human life, in which there don't appear to be clear-cut answers. But progress is inevitable as we persistently side with God in thought and action and as we glimpse through prayer the spiritual reality of man.

We're not condemned mortals, separate from God's love. Our true and only being is the immortal expression of Love, inseparable from God's care, totally satisfied. Everyone has the right to prove this day by day, however modestly. And the Bible assures us that our efforts will not be in vain.

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1Philippians 2: 12, 13. 2Psalms 8:6. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 22. 4Miscellaneous Writings, p. 115. - NO BIBLE VERSE TODAY -

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