When the world's troubles feel overwhelming
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
"Chinese orphans face life on their own - parents lost to AIDS"; "Hunger in America grows."
These headlines tore at my heart. I felt overwhelmed and didn't know what to do.
I thought about my options. I could just think about these problems and wish they would go away. But I've also learned that wishing things would be better is often a substitute for doing the hard work that can make a difference.
Next I thought of trying to ignore the headlines and not let myself get too concerned. But it was too late for that response.
I knew the greater love I was feeling for the world was not something I had created myself but was from God, and that's why I knew my yearning to help wouldn't go away.
As I quietly listened, I realized that God didn't give me a desire to care for the world in order to frustrate or discourage me. Rather, God caused me to feel this love so that I could do something useful with it - something that would benefit others. That encouraged me to go forward and make a greater commitment to help.
A change of thought
As I began praying about the Chinese orphans, I quickly realized I didn't have the power to personally change these children's lives. But I could change how I was thinking about these children. How we think of others has an impact. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote: "Good thoughts are an impervious armor ...." And she continued: "And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited." ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 210).
What I needed to correct was my feeling of hopelessness. Despite how dark things looked for these children, their Father-Mother God was with them, and that's why there was hope. One of the psalms in the Bible says: "Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me into his care" (Ps. 27:10). I prayed to know more clearly that it is Love's nature as Father-Mother to give each one of His children everything he or she needs - intelligent ideas, love, strength, comfort, direction, supply, goodness, protection.
'You're not the Comforter. I am.'
Grateful for the inspiration I was getting, but still agonizing about the situation, I continued to reach out to God. I heard a quiet thought: "You're not the Comforter. I am." This was God's message to me, His answer. I could see that I needed to stop trying so hard to fix things myself and focus more on what God was already doing. I wasn't personally responsible for taking care of God's ideas, but God, Love, was right with each one, providing comfort and guidance.
The Bible says: "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort..." (II Cor. 1:3). This said to me that it's God who is comforting each of His children and that He knows how to do it.
Victimization is never the final word.
After that, I became more convinced that God hadn't deserted these children but was loving and caring for them in ways they could feel. God, who is all Love, doesn't create His children and then abandon them. It certainly looks as if people are being abandoned and victimized by circumstances and by other people, but that is not the final word. It is never the final word. God, infinite Love, is supreme, all-power and never stops loving His children. Even though I haven't read any more in the news about these children, I continue to pray for them.
Praying for the world, I am learning, demands a bigger concept of God. The more I get to know God as divine Love, capable of taking care of each one of His children, and as Spirit, having all power, the less I am bullied and pushed around by the evil pictures I see.
Getting to know God better, to trust His love more in my own life, doesn't make me want to ignore problems. On the contrary, the more convinced I am that God is loving and providing good for each one of His ideas, the more I want to participate in His love and do something to help. My decision to walk 20 miles to raise money for the hungry in my state grew out of my conviction that divine Love is constantly loving and nourishing each one of His children.
Praying for the whole world takes great love, courage, and persistence. But that feeling of being overwhelmed by the demand diminishes as we are willing simply to begin. Even a small desire to love a little bit more than we did yesterday comes from God and helps everyone take one more step forward.