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Are You Struggling With Discouragement?

HAS there ever been a time when you felt that there was no use in going on, that you'd done everything you could do, to no avail, and you might just as well lie down and quit? In other words, ''Stop the world, I want to get off.'' Well, you're not the only one! It appears from what the Bible says that this was the way Elijah felt when he went to sleep under a juniper tree.

He regarded himself as a failure, but God-the omnipotent divine Mind that rolls the world-had other plans for Elijah. Not only was an angel alarm clock provided, but also breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with strength to last for forty days so that he could travel to ''the mount of God.''

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Elijah was given a real boost. How did he react? The Bible's account, in First Kings, says he went to the mountain and stayed in a cave until God asked him the rousing question ''What doest thou here, Elijah?'' and commanded him, ''Go forth, and stand upon the mount.'' Then the ''fireworks'' started-earthquake, wind, and fire. But God was not in any of these. After all that noise there came a ''still small voice'' (19:8, 9, 11, 12). To this Elijah responded, and went on to magnificent accomplishme nts.

No more sleeping under juniper trees for him!

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, points out the rousing effect this ''still small voice'' has in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. This book has uplifted and transformed the lives of many people, including my own. She writes, ''The infinite Truth of the Christ-cure has come to this age through a 'still, small voice,' through silent utterances and divine anointing which quicken and increase the beneficial effects of Christianity'' (p. 367).

When my dear husband of many years passed on, how well I'd learned to listen to that ''still, small voice'' was put to the test as never before. I wasn't used to being on my own, and my life needed a new direction. One day during a winter weekend, I was alone at ''Patch O' Woods,'' our little country cottage. I'd been praying a lot. A quiet peace enveloped me as I contemplated the giant trees, the tiny creek winding like a ribbon of ice down the slope. And I was suddenly filled with gratitud e for God, and for my knowledge of Christian Science.

The idea came to me to write down some of my thoughts. I did, and this was the beginning of a modest freelance writing career. My column, ''Reflections from a Little House in a Little Woods,'' ran for some time in a local newspaper. I've since had the privilege of publishing regularly in monthly and quarterly regional magazines.

Perhaps our awakening from discouragement doesn't come as dramatically as Elijah's did, but come it must. That still, small voice of Truth whispers into your thought and mine in the midst of our own particular form of ''fireworks,'' and we are given what we need individually, whether it be the strength to go forward, the right ideas to use, or the answers to tough questions.

Yearning to be obedient to God, I prayed one day, ''Dear Father-Mother God, use me in Your service.'' The answer came, almost before the thought: ''I am using you.'' A hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 49), with words adapted from a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, expresses it so well to me:

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Dear Lord and Father of us all,

Forgive our foolish ways;

Reclothe us in our rightful mind;

In purer lives Thy service find,

In deeper reverence, praise.

. . . . .

Speak through the earthquake,

wind and fire,

O still small voice of calm.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from us now the strain

and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.

Discouragement couldn't keep Elijah down-and it can't keep us down, either!

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