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Where's the Problem?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

My wife and a friend were entertained by a telephone. A voice was coming out of it, but no matter what button they pressed, and no matter how often they picked up and hung up the receiver, the voice would not go away.

For a while they thought they'd exhausted all solutions. Then they finally found the problem-they needed to go to another phone, where someone had left an intercom on, and switch the intercom off. That was the only way to stop the sound that was being broadcast.

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In another sense, we can struggle and struggle to solve problems, avert difficulties, and even face down calamities, and yet find ourselves failing to make headway. We might try every practical solution we can think of, only to find the difficulty persisting.

Like that phone incident, often we're putting our efforts in the wrong place. We're focusing on curing a body that's sick, improving a bank balance that's in the red, or changing the personality of a friend or family member. But the problem isn't really solved through any of those actions!

All these sticky situations are actually indications that something needs altering for the better in a place you might not have considered-in your thinking. No amount of effort, no matter how well-meaning, will bring actual healing until that effort is directed at what's really causing the problem. Which is? An ignorance of God, fundamentally. If you haven't yet been properly introduced to God through spiritual understanding, it's never too late.

No individual has ever known God better than Christ Jesus, who the Bible says was "without sin" (see Hebrews 4:15). We can follow the example Jesus showed and improve everyday circumstances as a result. Interestingly, it's through learning to express God's qualities in each situation-qualities such as unconditional love, joy, wisdom, and unselfishness-that resolutions come. A book by the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, says, "It will also be seen that this God demands all our faith and love; that matter, man, or woman can never heal you nor pardon a single sin; while God, the divine Principle of nature and man, when understood and demonstrated, is found to be the remote, predisposing, and present cause of all that is rightly done" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 152).

The effort to know God makes certain demands on us. Among these are demands to think and be good. Because God is infinite good, and we're all made in His image according to the Bible, it's really natural for all of us to have good in our lives. God's demands on us are always individual, asking us to understand Him better and to express in thought and action the goodness that represents Him. Doing good to others is an example of unselfishly expressing God-it is an act of love that expresses divine Love. This is an example of the activity that restores health to our bodies, brings sufficiency of income, and fosters harmony in relationships.

One day I had a cut that wouldn't stop bleeding. At the time I was with other people, and I excused myself and took time alone to pray about the spiritual fact that I am perfect as God's son. Still, the cut kept bleeding. As I prayed though, I remembered a problem a friend was facing. I felt compassion and the urge to pray to see clearly that none of God's children could suffer evil, because God is totally good. When I finished this unselfish praying, the bleeding had stopped. Turning away from my own problem to do something good, something loving for another, rather than focusing on my own need, had healed me.

As we strive to know God, coming to understand Him through expressing Him and living lives that follow the example of Jesus, all things are altered for the better in our lives.

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If you haven't previously prayed like that, you can start adopting this spiritual approach. You might well exclaim with delight at finding out that the solution to your problem lies totally elsewhere from where you've been thrashing about, trying unsuccessfully to fix things up. You might feel much as my wife and her friend felt when they finally figured out how to silence that yakking telephone!

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