Debt and gratitude
A Christian Science perspective.
If you're facing difficult circumstances, you can find great comfort in the Bible's promise that there is a higher power available to turn to. St. Paul's letters in the New Testament glow with hope because he was able to look above and beyond the persecutions and afflictions facing him. His messages about spiritual vision still resonate with people today who exercise their capacity to look at "the things which are not seen" – divine laws of God's love, which are always present.
Paul's second letter to the Corinthians states, "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (4:18).
I once found myself having to look at both the "temporal things" facing me, and at the same time try to stay focused on the "eternal things" that seemed "unseen." As the father of a family of three young children, I sat at my desk one evening getting ready to pay the bills. My income, plus my wife's as a substitute school teacher, didn't look like enough to pay for what they needed to keep the home going.
On the left side of the desk was a neatly organized stack of bills. On the right side were the checkbook, calculator, stamps, and envelopes. I looked at the bills, then at the checkbook. It was obvious that there wasn't enough in the checking account to pay all those bills. For a quiet moment I turned to God for help and guidance and for a way to meet this challenge. I wanted to look at the eternal "things which are not seen." In other words, I needed some spiritual ideas that would give me help and inspiration.
The thought came to be grateful. At first, I wondered how in the world I could do that with a stack of bills bigger than our financial resources. But even though it was a challenge, I knew it was right to be grateful. Looking at the stack of bills again it suddenly became clear that I could be genuinely grateful for the bills because they represented good in the form of products and services already received. This was such a fresh and inspiring thought. I felt sincerely grateful for good already received, as evidence of God caring for His children. I had suddenly glimpsed a spiritual truth that was "not seen" to material sight.
Taking another look at the bills as well as the checkbook, I also realized that I could make minimum payments on some bills, plus wait for a later due date on others. When I finished writing the checks, I'd made payments, to some degree, on all the bills. From that day on, even to the present, we have approached bill-paying with gratitude for good already received, whether it meant for the good the bills represented, or for any amount of money in the checking account. Gratitude for the spiritual good, though apparently "unseen" in St. Paul's words, has been such a practical answer.
Of course it's important to curb out-of-control spending and careless administration of funds. And one can also feel confident that charitable giving to others in need can only be a blessing to the giver as well as the recipient. But gratitude for every evidence of God's care, even if it's represented by a bill in the mail, can reinforce our certainty of God's support in meeting financial needs.
Sometimes it can be very difficult to turn from the evidence of a shortfall. But through a desire to trust God in a more enlightened way, we can see His loving provision for all. Each of us has the God-given capacity to behold the spiritual good God has provided as we learn to seek, and trust, and be grateful for "those things that are not seen."