Empowerment, Not Complaint
SPIRITUAL empowerment flows naturally from even a glimpse of man as the creation of the all-powerful, loving God. Understanding something of the spiritual power God gives to His creation--to us-- dispels any tendency to draw up mental lists of complaints and repeat them to anyone who will listen.
You know about this dreary list, don't you? It's a rehearsal of excuses and problems relating to some troublesome aspect of our lives. It seems as if we all make one from time to time. It may be a gathering of reasons why something is not going well. Or a reiteration of limitations that we feel are preventing us from doing something right and good. Or a litany of complaints about someone who we feel is causing us to act in unloving ways.
Isn't the common thread in such lists that feeling of a lack of power to do anything to solve problems? But the spiritual power that comes from perceiving the fact that God, divine Love, is the only creator--our creator--scatters these lists to the winds!
There is a healing in the Bible that shows how the truth cuts right through a feeling of hopeless helplessness. It's Christ Jesus' healing of a man at the pool of Bethesda. This pool was a place where many who were sick gathered. It was believed that from time to time an ``angel'' would stir the waters and whoever could get in first would be healed. Jesus asked this man, ``Wilt thou be made whole?''
As John's Gospel in the Bible records, ``The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.'' To me at least, these words have a sad, complaining, powerless sound to them. But Christ Jesus responded, with the authority of spiritual power, ``Rise, take up thy bed, and walk'' (5:6-8). And the man was healed --right then! There was no power, really, in the water or in the endless waiting this man did. The power rested in the activity of infinite Spirit, of God, that Jesus demonstrated.
If you're anything like me, you sometimes encounter difficulties that cause you to complain a little--at least to yourself. When I do this, it's invariably because I've temporarily lost sight of the presence and activity of God in my life. And a little spirited talking to myself always helps. It goes something like this: The infinite is infinite. God's allness means that He is in every place at every time.
My own half-comical rumblings don't make God less than God. God is infinite Spirit; He is not limited to (or by) human ways, means, limitations, abilities, perceptions. Yet His presence graciously uplifts and supports everything we do that is honest and moral. God does not exist alongside another reality, another creator, another force or power. He is the only, so He is all-powerful. Complaining does not come from God, from good, so we have every reason to resist it.
Often, when I complain about something it's because I'm accepting the self-defeating idea that I don't have the ability to do anything about some aspect of my experience. In other words, I feel powerless.
Yet such a feeling isn't really logical. How could a loving, omnipotent God fail to use His power on behalf of His offspring? He couldn't. All His offspring, including each individual man and woman, embody the God-given power to govern themselves. God gives each individual power over his or her thinking, over the way he or she speaks and acts, over his or her moral conduct.
So, if the first fundamental in eliminating complaint from our lives is an understanding of God's power, then the second is a recognition of the power He gives us as His spiritual expression, man.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, through years of deep, thoughtful study of the Bible, gained strong, spiritual views of what man is. And in a letter reprinted in her book The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, she says: ``Goodness and benevolence never tire.'' In the previous paragraph she has pointed out: ``As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good. Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I? to the scientific response: I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing'' (p. 165).
The ``I am able'' in this passage always stirs me spiritually when I find myself stuck in complaint. God demands that we act for good, certainly. But He also gives us the ability and power to respond to His demands. For me, realizing this always stops the complaining!
The Lord appointed other seventy also,
and sent them
two and two before his face
into every city and place,
whither he himself would come. . . .
Behold, I give you power
to tread on serpents and scorpions,
and over all the power of the enemy:
and nothing shall
by any means hurt you.
in this rejoice not,
that the spirits are subject unto you;
but rather rejoice,
because your names
are written in heaven.
Luke 10: 1, 19, 20