Asking better questions

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

The headlines reported the crash of a small plane in western Massachusetts. The story mentioned the weather as a possible cause of the crash. As I read the article, I asked, "Why would someone travel in bad weather?"

I immediately realized that wasn't the most constructive question to ask.

It's easy to get caught up in human analysis and ask questions that don't contribute to progress or healing. That doesn't mean I can never ask questions, but I'm learning to be more careful about what kinds of questions I ask. Questions that elicit answers that justify the existence of anything destructive, whether disease, accidents, pain, hatred, war, rather than focus on the spiritual truth that heals, are ones I try to steer away from.

Praying about the plane crash, I realized that a more helpful, healing question was: "Why is it true that all of us are always loved and cared for by God, no matter what situation we're in?" Thinking about the answer to this question became the basis of my prayer and gave me a stronger conviction that God is loving and caring for each of us every moment. I prayed with the psalm in the Bible that speaks about God leading and holding us even if we're dwelling in the "uttermost parts of the sea" (see Ps. 139:9, 10). As it turned out, three children survived the crash and a night of freezing temperatures in the forest.

One time the disciples asked Jesus about a blind man: "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do" (John 9:3, Eugene Peterson, "The Message").

Then Jesus spat on the ground and made a clay paste and rubbed the paste on the blind man's eyes. Then Jesus told him to wash at the pool of Siloam. The man went and washed - and he could see.

Jesus made it clear to his disciples that their focus needed to change. They needed not only to stop asking the wrong question but instead to be thinking more about God and His healing power.

Last summer I had a bicycle accident. When I turned my head to watch for traffic, my tire caught in the trolley tracks. Besides being scraped up, I felt internal injuries in my chest.

I found it challenging to turn away from questions that only reinforced the accident and its effects. I knew that trying to answer questions such as "Why didn't I pay more attention to what I was doing?" and "Where was God when I fell off my bike?" were not going to help me feel closer to God.

I turned to a passage from the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy that says: "Accidents are unknown to God, or immortal Mind, and we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God's unerring direction and thus bring out harmony" (pg. 424).

I needed to be more "willing to leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind." The "mortal basis of belief" says an accident happened; Mind, God, says He doesn't know accidents and that I never left His presence and care.

I asked myself: "If I've always been in the presence of God, dwelling with Him, then how could I ever have been hurt?" As the 91st Psalm in the Bible says, I dwell "in the secret place of the most High [God] ... under the shadow of the Almighty." Further on the psalm says: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." God's angels were always with me, keeping me safe, and that had to include the time I was on my bike.

The pain was trying to get me to believe that I had been separated from God, but now it was clear to me that this wasn't true. I embraced the idea that even during the incident, I was at one with God, Love, and therefore I couldn't be hurt. As God's child I was created by Him in His image and likeness, which means I am spiritual, not material, and therefore only subject to good. The fear began to dissolve, and soon the pain disappeared entirely.

Focus on the right questions - the questions that show what God is knowing and doing, because they are the ones that bring peace and healing in any situation.

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