OCCASIONALLY we may be faced with a challenge that doesn't go away. It may be financial straits, a ruptured relationship, a chronic illness, a handicap. If we're striving to heal the difficulty through prayer, we may be tempted to give up our prayerful efforts. But this is just what we shouldn't do. The children of Israel were forty years in the wilderness. Although Biblical research indicates that forty years may or may not have meant literally forty years, we can be sure that the Israelites spent a long time wandering through the wilderness. Moses' leadership, courage, and persistence remained strong, even in the face of group resistance and hostility. Moses trusted God. And eventually the Israelites arrived at the Promised Land. Prayer that is based on some understanding of God's allness and goodness, and that shows dependence on His all-supporting loving care, never leaves us where we were. Prayer makes a difference. The result may take a different form than we think it will or should take, but true prayer leaves an imprint -- more peace, hope, courage, inspiration, or strength; restored health, a purification of motives.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives us this perceptive definition of wilderness: Loneliness; doubt; darkness. Spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence.''1
What's happening to our hearts and innermost thoughts while we're going through a ``wilderness'' experience? The answer to that question is important.
Are we weary? We need not be. Because God is immortal Life and Love, He never tires. Divine Life is new every moment. Divine Love is inexhaustible. Man in God's image -- our true spiritual selfhood -- reflects the freshness and durability of every divine attribute. Man is effect, the effect of God. And effect must be the product of its cause.
In the face of the temptation to give up we can do several things. First of all, we can trust God. As we let that trust develop, we will see a way to go forward, whatever the situation may be.
Are we answering back to thoughts of futility? When the suggestion comes, ``You're through; this is it,'' do we counter with a vigorous assertion of divine power and of our God-derived right to continuous well-being? Our real identity is what God knows and causes us to be -- valued and indestructible. We can say to evil, ``I'm not through unless God is through, and that would be impossible.''
A definite plan for prayer and study is often essential. One period of about ten years in my experience presented a variety of challenges that appeared overwhelming to me at the time. I set up a program. Prayer, whenever I could collect my thoughts. Daily study of the whole Bible Lesson outlined in the Christian Science Quarterly. Consecutive reading of Mrs. Eddy's writings. I emerged from those ten years a more mature individual with a much deeper conviction of God's everlasting goodness and love.
Our great example in all this, of course, is Christ Jesus. He didn't give up when he found that Lazarus ``had lain in the grave four days already.''2 He didn't give up when he was nailed to the cross. His victories stand as undeniable proof of God's power and presence, of man's inseparability from his Father-Mother, God.
We can learn to feel more deeply the impact of this phrase in the prayer Jesus gave to his followers of all time: ``Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.''3 Mrs. Eddy's spiritual interpretation of this reads: ``Enable us to know, -- as in heaven, so on earth, -- God is omnipotent, supreme.''4
It's the knowing of God's supremacy that keeps us from getting weary or giving up. It's what leads to victory.
1Science and Health, p. 597. 2John 11:17. 3Matthew 6:10. 4Science and Health, p. 17.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold the with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10