ONE night around two in the morning I was waked out of a sound sleep by a feeling of depression and suffocation. I was oppressed by a nightmare image of our planet groaning under the burden of so many human bodies, each striving to survive on a land mass that was ever decreasing.
It was such an intense experience that I turned to God in prayer, simply to regain my equilibrium. What would the world do with all those people? The thought that helped me the most was a combination of two specific points in the Bible. The first is a promise God makes to Abraham. God declares, we read in Genesis, "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven. And Psalms says of God, "He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their
God did keep His promise to Abraham. But the verse from Psalms doesn't say that only some stars are known to God by name. All of them are. This is quite a different view from the one that presents material masses of faceless and voiceless beings whose only legacy is mortality. What makes the difference?
In a word, spirituality. That is, God doesn't know us from the standpoint of limitation. He doesn't know us as material entities in a finite and decaying world. He knows us as His spiritual ideas, dwelling in infinite and all-loving Mind. In this environment, each has a specific role to play. And because God's creation is wholly spiritual, there are never "too many for Him to care for.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes a great deal about the spiritual nature of man in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She declares, "Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique.
This spiritual nature was what Christ Jesus saw in what seemed like faceless masses to his disciples. On more than one occasion, he had specific encounters with individuals who, despite the crowds around him, were truly seeking to find a spiritual answer. And Jesus was able to perceive this movement toward spirituality and respond with healing.
Today as we consider the challenges faced by people living in crowded conditions, in lands that cannot adequately support them, we can resort to the same method Jesus used so effectively. Through our prayers we can reach out to God, divine Love, for solutions that will alleviate suffering. These prayers can begin by our understanding that man is in fact spiritual and is known to God. No faceless masses dwell in God's universe. Each of us is known to God not as a mortal, but as a spiritual idea.
In this light, our prayers can affirm that our genuine spiritual identity is uncontaminated by materiality with all its limitations. This doesn't mean that we can mindlessly overpopulate the earth without regard to the potential of environmental destruction. What it does mean is that we can renew both ourselves and our world as we draw closer to God.
At first, doing this may seem difficult. But as we persist in our prayers we will find that an interesting thing begins to happen. The recognition that creation is spiritual, unlimited, actually changes the way we deal with our world. We'll be better able, for example, to ensure a balance between population and resources. And as our love grows beyond the immediate borders of our homes, we'll find new ways to help others. As this occurs, people will no longer appear to be faceless masses but individuals - -whose names are known not just to us but also to God.