A reasonable basis for hope
MANKIND has never had a shortage of options that offer hope of overcoming the failings of human experience. But finding one that works is a completely different story! And finding one that doesn't ask you to check your reason at the door is even harder. This is certainly how I felt soon after college. I had no money, no job, and didn't feel I had much hope of finding a well-paying, satisfying job. In addition, I already had a family, including two young children. My religion, which had been so important to me all the years I was growing up, just simply dropped away from thought that summer as I desperately submerged myself in the process of trying to qualify for graduate school.
When I finally noticed I was no longer praying or going to church, I came to feel that religion as I had known it offered me no practical way of dealing with the pressure of life. The promise of religion certainly was appealing, but the explanations--and lack of explanations--for its various stands seemed more and more unreasonable to me as the demands of a hard life pressed in.
In an attempt to salvage some hope, over the next few years I briefly explored a variety of nonreligious options. Borrowing a little from everything I encountered, I managed to concoct a hodgepodge belief system, which eventually completely collapsed, leaving me staring into a future of utter blankness.
Stripped of my admittedly flawed beliefs and truly desperate, I began to read the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. A glimmer of hope flashed out at me as I read these words by Mary Baker Eddy1 on the first page of the Preface: ``The time for thinkers has come'' and ``Ignorance of God is no longer the stepping-stone to faith.''2 How strange--and exciting--it felt to encounter a religion that promised to give me an understanding of God as a basis for faith and not just faith alone.
As the rest of the book, and the years since, have shown, this understanding wasn't to be gained without humility and effort. But the explanations right from the beginning were reasonable. For instance, God isn't presented as some humanlike super being who occasionally and mysteriously injects Himself into the human scene to scold and punish man for his inherent and inescapable iniquity. Rather, God is seen to be what the Bible describes Him to be--the one infinite, perfect creator of the universe and man, whose nature is totally good. He fills all space and is the source of all that is genuinely real. If this is a reasonable explanation of the Supreme Being, another conclusion necessarily follows: Evil is com pletely excluded by good.
Now, this may not seem reasonable at first, because we obviously see much evil and discord in human experience. But if we accept the premise that good alone is real because God is good and infinite, we come to see that evil cannot be the immovable fact it appears to be--that what our eyes and ears tell us of reality is unreliable. This doesn't mean that Christian Scientists ignore evil but that they believe reality in its truest, spiritual sense, transcending appearances, is good and that through challenging the report of the physical senses on the basis of God's allness we can begin to find healing of human troubles.
I found it easier to disbelieve the evil reported by the physical senses--the same senses that had been tricking me in so many ways for so long--than to believe that God had created a universe, including man, that was as discordant and chaotic as it seemed to these senses.
Even though I haven't fully discerned or experienced the underlying harmony of all things, glimpses of it break through during inspired prayer, and through physical and other kinds of healing these glimpses have proved true. They shore up hope, because they bear witness to an ever-present, good God, who is Truth itself. These glimpses have come when pride, fear, and sensuality have been stilled according to the example shown to us in the words and works of Christ Jesus. ``Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God,''3 Jesus said.
Glimpses of spiritual reality are mile posts in the journey out of ignorance toward the understanding of God. How encouraging to know that as we make this regenerative passage into light, we don't have to leave our reason behind.
1The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2Science and Health, p. vii. 3Matthew 5:8 DAILY BIBLE VERSE: God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. I John 1:5