PROBABLY all of us have been jealous at some point. Sometimes it may seem impossible to stop thinking bitterly about a situation. Indulging such envy can be quite destructive. In fact, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, declared, ``Envy is the atmosphere of hell.''1 Those are strong words. Yet anyone who has suffered from severe jealousy probably knows how hellish such a feeling can be. Often envy stems from fear -- fear that someone else will take what should be ours or that our contribution won't be noticed. If we can free ourselves from this fear, the envy disappears.
A couple of years ago, around Christmastime, I learned a lesson about envy that taught me something about my relationship to God. I had lost my checkbook, and I was worried and praying about what to do. About the same time someone invited me to see her new home. She was a very demanding woman, who expected only the best -- and got it, as her new home showed. In the past, I would have felt quite envious of her.
But surprisingly, this time I didn't feel that way at all. As I pondered this change in attitude, I realized that it had come about because of the praying I had been doing in connection with finding the checkbook. I had been gaining a better understanding of one of the basic truths of Christian Science: that man's relationship to God is inseverable because he is God's child. All good comes to us from God. This means that your good isn't my good -- each of us gets what he or she needs directly from God. Reasoning from this standpoint, we can see that no one can be deprived of God's love.
It follows that the good that comes to you doesn't deprive me -- or vice versa. Each of us has access to all good because God is Love and thus loves all of us as His children. So we can count on Love to be with us and to meet our needs.
Of course because God is Spirit, and we are His spiritual offspring, He doesn't give us material things. What we get is a higher spiritual sense of ourselves as being made in His image and thus reflecting His qualities -- beauty, love, truth, goodness, intelligence, to mention just a few.
If we are indulging envy, however, we may fail to express these qualities or even to see them operating in our lives. We end up wanting another's good instead of our own. But God gives us only what is the best thing for us. Christ Jesus makes it clear that God's love for His children far transcends mere human love, wonderful as that is. He says, ``What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?''2
When we trust God, divine Love, to meet our needs, we may not always get exactly what we think we want. But what we get could well be something much better, because God is superior to any human parent, however loving and generous.
After I had prayed like this, I felt little need to fret about my missing checkbook. Then, on New Year's Eve, the local police called to say that someone had turned in my checkbook.
At the police station, the desk officer said, ``You are one lucky woman.'' In my checkbook was a signed check written to ``cash'' for $100. Despite the ease with which the check might have been cashed, no one had done so. To me, this was proof that neither I nor the anonymous person who had found my checkbook could be deprived of God's love. And in the years since then, I have seen further evidences of how this spiritual law works.
1Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 3. 2Matthew 7:9-11.