Citizens of Mexico are celebrating Cinco de Mayo today. On May 5, 1862, General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated French troops, successfully defending the Mexican city of Puebla, which for centuries was considered a key to controlling Mexico. Mexicans have a jubilant celebration, full of song and dance, in honor of the event.
But in fact, this victory did not end the war; the French subsequently rallied and captured Mexico City. The lawfully elected Mexican government was once again forced to flee, and eventually Maximilian of the Hapsburg royal family was installed as "emperor" of Mexico. It took five grueling years for President Benito Jurez and the elected officials of Mexico to achieve complete freedom from French domination. Even so, Mexicans celebrate that victory at Puebla, rather than the final triumph over Maximilian at Quertaro.
Perhaps the battle at Puebla encouraged the people to know that success was possible. The final victory flowed from that conviction. Nothing could apparently take away the joy of the victory at Puebla. Not defeat. Not persecution.
What a lesson for those who turn to God in prayer. Difficult circumstances of all kinds may seem to have authority over our lives. Bureaucracy, corruption, crime, illness - they all seem to set up alternative power structures and announce them as having authority. It is only through complete conviction in the supreme authority of God - of good - that we can escape their ambushments.
God is the source of all good. We can look to Him, not to ourselves or other people, to avoid the snares of greed, frustration, and futility. Prayer supplies us with inspiration and the means for overcoming obstacles. Employment, educational opportunities, and safety are included under God's government. We can place ourselves under His authority and see progress in place of defeat.
Recognizing the relationship we have to God strengthens our honesty and perception of character. Prayer, the desire to understand God, is expressed in action. Fighting on the side of God may seem difficult, but the ultimate reward is freedom from limitation.
Recently we missed plane connections in Mexico City. Our enemy was red tape from various airlines and airport personnel. We couldn't move; it seemed impossible to get out of a bureaucratic morass.
Turning to God, I prayed. I insisted on the spiritual fact that the divine Mind (not people) governed us. I refused to surrender this conviction. And I was finally led to someone willing to take me into the inner sanctums of the airport. First we were able to obtain proper vouchers. After being shuffled several times between departments, I found one man who simply and suddenly cut through the red tape and issued a complex number of authorizations.
At our final destination, however, friends we were to meet were nowhere to be found. We left messages at their hotel and home. And again, we chose to rely entirely on the government of divine Mind. On the second day, the inspiration came clearly for us to take a side trip to a very secluded place. Less than three dozen people were there - including our friends! They also had struggled to find us. It had seemed that no one was interested in conveying our messages to each other. But through their own prayer, divine inspiration had led them to go to this same secluded beach. We rejoiced in this victory over bureaucracy! It was only through the power of God that we were all led to find one another after a trip of several thousand miles and several days.
While this incident does not rival the struggle for Mexican independence, each personal victory indicates the possibility of total victory. For me, Cinco de Mayo will always mean allowing nothing to steal our joy. Human struggles can't rob us of victories won. Each triumph is important and deserves to be remembered.
The Christian Science textbook explains: "For victory over a single sin, we give thanks and magnify the Lord of Hosts. What shall we say of the mighty conquest over all sin? A louder song, sweeter than has ever before reached high heaven, now rises clearer and nearer to the great heart of Christ; for the accuser is not there, and Love sends forth her primal and everlasting strain" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 568).