Waking from the nightmare

One of my favorite movies, a first-rate suspense film, builds to a thrilling, if unlikely, conclusion atop the famed Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The hero and heroine, while being chased by villains, end up on the edge of a cliff, she clinging for her life, and he, in a precarious position himself, reaching down in a desperate attempt to save her. Just when it appears he might not succeed in pulling her up to a safer position, the director of the film ends the nightmare by abruptly cutting away from that scene to a parallel scene of the hero and heroine on a train, safe and happy - and now husband and wife. The movie is suddenly over, and they have survived the ordeal. How? In the context of the movie, that's not really important.

The director's purpose was clearly to entertain, not to convey a profound message. Yet these final images point to a helpful truth. The sudden, happy resolution conveys the feeling of waking up from a nightmare to find that you're safe and that everything is as it should be. Looking at our own lives, we may feel that things are not as they should be, and in fact are far from safe. From a spiritual standpoint, however, our well-being is uninterrupted, as we can learn from an inspired reading of the Bible, particularly of Christ Jesus' healing works. Man's harmony is not, in the final analysis, subject to chance but is established forever by God. And this spiritual truth can be confirmed in our lives, as Jesus showed, despite the nightmarish phenomena of evil.

You might think it's unrealistic, even naive, to assert that all is really well when so many things in life seem just the opposite. Yet as we come to see more clearly the actual nature of God and His creation, which transcends what our physical senses take in, we begin to conclude that good alone is the legitimate and ultimate state of things.

The Scriptures assure us that God is Love and that He does care for His creation. ''The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works,'' n1 the Psalmist sang.

n1 Psalms 145:9.

Why, then, do innocent people suffer? Not because it's divine Love's will that they suffer, but because the truth of God's nature and of His provision for man isn't widely enough understood. God's will is always good, because He Himself is infinitely good, unalterably wise. He couldn't and doesn't permit His creation to suffer, though a limited, materialistic sense of things would have us believe otherwise.

If, then, we feel we're dangling from a cliff, so to speak, with little hope of being rescued from sickness or loneliness or lack of funds - or whatever - there's good reason to take heart. Appearances and the opinions of others may insist there's no answer, no way out. But this doesn't change eternal truth. ''Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite,'' the Bible tells us. ''The Lord lifteth up the meek.'' n2

n2 Psalms 147:5, 6.

We can begin to prove this through humbly turning to our creator in prayer, acknowledging His goodness and insisting on our God-given well-being. In the quietness of prayer we can feel His love as a present, tangible reality, and let that love dissolve the fear as well as the symptoms of suffering and failure.

God made man in His likeness, and He does maintain man in that perfect state. This spiritual fact is unchangeable, because God is unchanging Love. To humbly accept that God truly is the only power, and that He is exclusively good, is to begin to gain dominion over misfortune. It's to begin to realize that evil, in its various manifestations, can be dealt with - that it's not a fact of true existence but a hoax, perpetuated by a misunderstanding of the one God and by the fear and sin that grow out of that misunderstanding.

The enemy isn't so much evil conditions, per se, as it is a materialistic sense of life. This false sense would inflate evil and claim to separate us from the intelligent government of divine law. But Jesus has shown us how to defeat this false sense through prayer and through the purity of thought which worships Spirit alone.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes with conviction, ''Step by step will those who trust Him find that 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.' '' n3 And she says elsewhere, ''Those who know no will but His take His hand, and from the night He leads to light.'' n3 Science and Health with Key to Scriptures, p. 444.

n4 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 347.

Placing our trust in the one God, we can wake from the nightmare, and enjoy in greater degree the well-being that's rightfully ours. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3.

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