If you sit by a coal fire for a long time you often find that it dies down and needs stirring up. But when you poke it, it flares up and gives out new brightness and warmth.
We are sometimes like that coal fire. We tend to get lulled into spiritually deadening complacency, especially when we are experiencing material comfort. We may even lapse into a state of comfortable indifference to the needs of our fellow beings, let the world go by, and enjoy selfish ease.
It's then that we need stirring up! And sometimes it's the sudden onset of trouble that forces us to start stirring, that rouses our dormant spirituality.
An elderly couple were welcomed into church by an usher who supposed them to be newcomers. ''Oh, no!'' they told him. ''We used to come, but we dropped out. Now we've come back through trouble.''
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, states, ''Trials are proofs of God's care.'' n1 Shakespeare utters a similar truth when he declares, Sweet are the uses of adversity, Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head . . . . n2
n1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 66.
n2 As You Like It, Act II, scene 1.
In the Bible, In the Bible, Manasseh was a king of Israel who forsook the worship of God and practiced witchcraft and other forms of idolatry. It was not until his kingdom was taken from him and he suffered dire afflictions in the hands of enemies that he humbled himself and turned again to God. Then his kingdom was restored and his long reign continued. n3
n3 See II Chronicles, chap. 33.
It's not easy to be grateful for trials and troubles. Yet we can see them as blessings in disguise, prompting us to realize and demonstrate our dominion as sons and daughters of God. Man, God's spiritual image, does have dominion. He expresses the wholeness and purity and well-being of his creator. But this truth needs to be proved by each of us, step by step. The perfect, spiritual basis of existence, established by God, must be progressively brought to light through the shedding of materialistic thinking and living - and this presents a challenge.
The Bible says that through much tribulation we enter the kingdom of God. n4 Certainly God, universal good, doesn't send suffering. He maintains His creation in perfect harmony, and through obedience to His law we can experience that harmony. Still, trouble can be a salutary spur to spiritual progress, can be made a blessing. ''The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter,'' writes Mrs. Eddy, ''as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love. Then we begin to learn Life in divine Science.'' n5
n4 See Acts 14:22.
n5 Science and Health, p. 322.
Our world is in turmoil. Wars, famine, crime, beset mankind. While this turmoil is not good in itself, isn't it an inevitable forerunner of the purification and spiritualization of human thought - even a sign that such spiritualization is now taking place, combating the idolatry of mortal thought? ''I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it,'' n6 the prophet Ezekiel represents God as saying. We are seeing this prophecy fulfilled in the world's upheavals.
n6 Ezekiel 21:27.
The Christian who is alert to the signs of the times will not be dismayed by them, recognizing them to be convulsions of the carnal mind, whose manifestations of sin, disease, and all discord Christ Jesus exposed and destroyed - and taught his followers then and now to expose and destroy. Such phenomena surely herald the dawn of a better world.
We need to practice daily the mental, spiritual right thinking, the righteousness, Christ Jesus taught. Our prayers, based on the understanding of the nature of God as Love and of His allness, will be potent in combating the evil in the world and bringing to light the harmony that is the birthright of us all. Daily prayer and dedication to the service of God and mankind will guard us against lapses into apathy and ease in matter and lessen the need for a poker to stir us up. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. Romans 13:11