Why people don't give up

Jineth Bedoya doesn't think of herself as a heroine, but her courage inspires me. A journalist in Bogota, Colombia, Ms. Bedoya goes to work each day under armed guard. Last year, eight journalists lost their lives reporting on the drug trade and the long civil war there. Bedoya herself survived a brutal attack last year and still refuses to give up her work.

The tenacity so many Colombians have shown through their country's long struggle is deeply impressive. While the situation has improved in many ways in the last ten years, Bedoya's story reminds me that day after day, year after year, people worldwide face intimidation, yet keep on working for truth and justice.

Persistent courage like that is a quality I admire in many people who face injustices ranging from illness to disabilities to personal tragedies. And from my observation, what sustains people in prolonged struggles is more than faith in their own ability to set things right. Deep down, it's faith that justice, health - in fact, everything unselfishly good - are fundamental rights. They're the way things are designed to be. They're laws of life enforced by a power greater than any human or material force can make or break.

To know that there is an actual law of good is one of the most comforting and empowering truths on earth. Anywhere justice is stalemated, a divine law is present and operating that anyone can rely on to bring about progress, regardless of what conventional opinions say are the chances for success.

The Bible's story of David and Goliath illustrates the kind of confidence that comes from relying on God's law. David faces the gigantic and massively armed enemy Goliath with only a slingshot and a few stones. But his real strength is his humble awareness of an infinitely powerful and good God. All people fighting for justice can arm themselves with this same weapon: their simple faith in Almighty God. David defeated Goliath because he knew there was no power that could defy God's supreme law.

The Bible's uncompromising message that spiritual power overrules material force resonated strongly with Mary Baker Eddy, the 19th-century American woman who discovered Christian Science and founded this newspaper. Mrs. Eddy's lifetime coincided with some major struggles for justice in the United States, including the defeat of slavery and the emergence of women's rights. She identified humanity's fundamental battle, however, in the largest possible terms - the right to prove God's power over oppression of all kinds.

In her major work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she explained that this power is not miraculous and that it has nothing to do with personal willpower. The faith that defeats Goliaths, she discovered, is the understanding that God is the loving Principle that originates and governs all reality. Since God does not produce evil, it is ultimately unreal and destroyable. For over 40 years, Mrs. Eddy worked successfully to prove that both sin and disease can be overcome through the understanding of God's allness. She faced enormous resistance to her ideas, as both a woman and a religious thinker, but she didn't give up the fight for the most basic of human rights - the right to know that justice, freedom, health are God's unopposable law.

This truth empowers the prayers of anyone trusting in God's power. Recently I talked with a Colombian woman who told me that many small, cross-denominational prayer groups have sprung up spontaneously in neighborhoods in Bogota. The difficulties her country has faced, she feels, have birthed a grass-roots spiritual movement that is waking people to the power of God.

The prayer groups of Bogota bring to mind David's simple slingshot and stones. Behind those prayers is all the might of God's law of good. And because of people's innate trust in this law, they will never give up on making its rule visible.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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