About a year ago I came across this great crossword puzzle clue in The New York Times: five-letter word for "One of 150." The answer? Psalm. (Nice, don't you think?)
All my life I've turned to the Bible for spiritual protection and help. The deep thought-waters of the psalms, especially, have never failed to refresh me. They remind me that other people have felt just like I have at times (depressed, confused, afraid, sick). But they were rescued. This always makes me feel that I can be, too. And I have been. Many times.
But I hadn't read all 150.
When I did, what became clearer to me is that these spiritual ballads are basically 150 poetic appeals for, and acknowledgements of, divine help in human life. You might say that their prevailing "undermusic" is implicit trust that a Supreme Being is actively in charge. That God is good, all-powerful, merciful, true, trustworthy, and present - ready, willing, and able to help in practical ways when turned to in prayer. I sensed that life is truly intended to be rewarding and enduring. And that by turning to the infinite, divine Spirit, it really can be. They also made me feel that the thirst for spirituality is natural.
One of the many psalms that has become a special friend is 107. It speaks about God's lovingkindness. It says that if you're in trouble, you can cry out to God for help and you will be saved. Verse 29 is my favorite: "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still."
To me, this means that God can make anything bad in my life stop. I can have an inner stillness in times of crisis. Stillness that comes from feeling my oneness with God. This psalm says to me that it's possible to feel that divine Love is in total control of my life - that no matter what's going on around me, I'm loved, whole, safe, and watched over because I'm God's precious child. What's more, it gives me confidence that this feeling of safety will be naturally reflected in practical ways in the events of my everyday life.
This verse also makes me think of Jesus, who lived hundreds of years after it was written. Jesus was on a boat on the Galilean Sea with his disciples. There was a storm. His disciples were terrified, but he was sleeping. They woke him up, and he took action: "Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm" (Matt. 8:26).
If Jesus had spiritual power because of his closeness to and understanding of the creative Principle, this says to me that this power is still available to calm storms, first in the hearts and then in the outward lives of you and me. Spiritual power isn't magical, personal, or physical. It's natural, timeless, universal, and ever present. Its source is God, the divine Principle that regulates all legitimate activity through spiritual law. Confidence and peace are natural aspects of this activity.
I've seen the storm of financial distress stilled through reliance on God's power to set things right. A drastic cut in my income has been offset by a counterbalancing increase in my wife's. Other unexpected sources of income have also helped restore and maintain our stability. We're learning that our family economic well-being, as well as the health of everything else in our lives, is the tangible expression of our oneness with God, who compassionately provides everything we need.
The fact is that no one can be separated from the infinite love of God - anymore than the number nine can be separated from the governing principles of mathematics.
Whenever I feel those all-too-familiar waves of worry, pessimism, depression, and fear trying to brew a big storm in my thinking, in any part of my life, I reach out for the courage that flows from God. More and more I accept that there is a storm-calming/ wave-stilling divine presence in my life. A psalm in my heart. You can, too.
The ideas in this article are explored more fully in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor