There was a time when my health was so poor that for many months I felt imprisoned because I was unable to leave my home. Hopelessness began to set in.
I found myself relating to a woman from biblical times. Thousands of years ago, a widow known to the prophet Elisha felt hopeless too, as she described to him her poor prospects. But in helping her, he turned her thought by asking what she had "in the house" (II Kings 4:1-7).
At first she answered that she had nothing, but then added that there was a little oil. Eventually this oil turned out to be her answer, and she was relieved of poverty.
This story pointed me to consider my mental house to see what was available. One thing I had was quiet – hours for thinking. This time could be used to increase my spiritual understanding and get to know God better.
I also listened to "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy (recorded on CDs), the Christian Science Sentinel–Radio Edition, and the audio edition of the Christian Science Quarterly Weekly Bible Lessons (both sister publications to this newspaper), as well as to recorded hymns. Day and night, I pondered the truths I was hearing and the stories in the Bible I've loved since childhood.
I thought about the colorful life of Joseph in the Bible, especially the episode when he found himself unjustly imprisoned. While there, rather than sulking, he made himself useful, became respected, and was put in charge of the other inmates.
He interpreted the dreams of his fellow prisoners, and when one of them, Pharaoh's butler, was released, Joseph asked the butler to remember him to the king. But the butler forgot Joseph until two years later when Pharaoh had dreams he wanted interpreted (see Genesis, chapters 39-41).
The fact that Joseph initially tried to get out through this connection was instructive to me. I've wondered, had he gotten out immediately following the butler's release, would he have been available when Pharaoh needed him? Maybe there was more to be done right where he was.
Of course God is never holding anyone prisoner; God is ordering our lives in a purposeful direction to glorify Him.
Though I wanted an immediate release from the mental imprisonment, perhaps needed lessons could be learned right where I was, and perhaps my hopes needed to be further refined. I had to place my hope entirely in God and see that hope itself was not something I could give up or lose.
Hope is a godly thing. It is a saving thing. And it is a necessity. In fact, in the Scriptures God is described as hope itself when addressed in this verse: "O Lord, the hope of Israel..." (Jer. 17:13). Paul further associates God with hope when writing to the Romans: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope" (Rom. 15:13).
Since hope is an aspect of God, it is a permanent part of our being as God's likeness. Science and Health states, "Spiritual sense, contradicting the material senses, involves intuition, hope, faith, understanding, fruition, reality" (p. 298).
During the months of discomfort, no matter how dark things seemed, one verse from Jeremiah came to me every day, and sometimes several times a day: "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee" (Jer. 31:3).
I wasn't exactly sure why this echoed in my thought, but I've come to accept that it was God's voice of hope uttering the goodness of God, working away to free me from the kind of imprisonment I was experiencing, much like a metal file would work to wear down a chain.
As I accepted this love of God, I was free – healed. We can't be without hope – not one of us – because we can't be without God.