Precarious Living Or God-Given Stability?
AS we see clear evidence of progress in certain parts of the world, the news reminds us that the challenges facing mankind continue to be numerous. A lot in our world, from national economies to individual lives, appears to rest on a precarious foundation. So many factors, it would seem, can change things either for better or for worse. While human wisdom insists this is simply the way things are in an often harsh world, and life is a perpetual balancing act to avoid worst-case scenarios, there's a better, higher view to be gained, a more certain one. And it's not just an optimistic way of looking at things with little practical value. It's an actual perception of truth, of the way things really are, beyond the turmoil that may appear outwardly. Clearly, to those suffering hardship of one kind or another, it's not enough simply to philosophize about an ideal world. Yet for all of us there is a source of certainty, a secure foundation to rest our hope on. It's the truth that was proved in healing and protection in Bible times and is being proved by many today in the midst of uncertainty--proved in growing freedom from sin, in physical healing, in the finding of appropriate employment, in the harmonizing of relationships. Christ Jesus illustrated this truth through his works. He showed that there is a God, an infinite, all-wise creator who is good and who can be called upon in prayer to help us, to open our eyes to our uninterrupted perfection as His spiritual likeness. Jesus' works weren't so much a repairing of damaged lives as they were a revealing of man's God-given wholeness, a bringing to light of the spiritual fact of man as God created him. When things seem precarious, then, in the world or in our own lives, there's something we can do to help alleviate the uncertainty. We can commune with our creator, come to feel His presence in the quietness of prayer, glorifying Him through an acknowledgment of the true nature of His creation. Such prayer isn't wishful thinking or escapism; it's an actual recognition of His perfect government of man, transcending what our eyes and ears tell us. It's a realization that what God made couldn't and doesn't rest on a precarious foundation but on the solid basis of divine law. Such prayer requires us to exercise what we might call spiritual sense. It requires us to admit that the evils and troubling complexities of a material world can't be ultimate reality, because what God created is better than that; it's entirely good. In his second letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul speaks of looking "not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. Following Paul's counsel, we can begin to find peace within, and practical solutions, because we're quieting a confused, superficial sense of things and listening to the one God. Sometimes this is difficult. Circumstances have a way of convincing us there's trouble just around the corner, and we can't ignore trouble. But we can take steps to get beyond the feeling of vulnerability through prayer and the cultivation of spiritual sense. Jesus promised, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. The truth is that God cares for His creation. Of course, the need is to prove this to a greater degree ourselves and to realize it more consistently in our prayers for the world, and this requires a growing willingness to look beyond appearances. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "To divest thought of false trusts and material evidences in order that the spiritual facts of being may appear,--this is the great attainment by means of which we shall sweep away the false and give place to the true. And she says later on in Science and Health, "Creation rests on a spiritual basis. This is a basis for hope--and salvation. It's why we can build our lives on a solid foundation. The harmony of spiritual creation can--and must--increasingly come to light. Our job is to turn more consistently to prayer for stability and increasingly to live in accord with our prayers. To prove even a little of God's control in the midst of instability we need to realize the supremacy of His government and also conform our thoughts and lives to His law. In other words, we have to build on the solid found ation of honesty, purity, compassion, and so forth if the stabilizing nature of those God-derived qualities is to appear more regularly in our experience. This recognition of reality--together with the living of it--is a universal demand. It's the only road of escape from precarious living into the proof of God's certain, constant care.