In recent days, the turmoil in the money markets and the crisis in the banking system seem to be engulfing people and even whole countries. Stock markets around the world from Tokyo to Toronto and from New Delhi to New York have been in a downward spiral. Fear has replaced confidence.
On the US dollar bill are the words "In God we trust." Bank of England notes state, "I promise to pay the bearer on demand." These both remind us that the foundations of our currencies and of business in general rest on trust, in the knowledge that promises will be kept and debts paid. This trust seems to have been lost, and our currencies have ceased to flow freely around the system.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, always looked beneath the surface of things – beyond the material appearance to the deeper spiritual basis of life and health. She prayed for spiritual vision to see beyond the material picture – to God's purpose and presence even in everyday things. She once invited the members of her church to her home, and when asked to address them, she said that she wanted to give them a gift – a gift that was already theirs.
She said that God had given it to all people and described it as "His coin, His currency," having "His image and superscription" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 170). Then she quoted a psalm: "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday" (Ps. 37:3-6).
This points to how we can respond to the daily reports of disaster. They are a wake-up call to challenge the depressing pictures instead of retreating in helplessness.
At the depth of the Great Depression, US President Franklin Roosevelt told Americans that they had nothing to fear but fear itself. Some biblical passages make the same point: "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Tim. 1:7), and "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward" (Heb. 10:35).
Our confidence and trust become stronger when we realize that God is constantly pouring out love for all His children. Whatever the human picture before us may be, we can claim the fact that good – the essence of God – is never blocked, foreclosed, withdrawn, or cut off. God is infinite Mind, and this divine intelligence will reveal whatever we need for solving even the most intractable problems. In our prayers we can know that those in charge of the treasury departments and central banks around the world can perceive and implement sound ideas that will restore trust and confidence.
We can also refuse to join the rush to assign blame for the collapse of many banks and financial corporations. In Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, which explores our unbreakable relationship to our divine Parent, the elder son seems to set aside his trust in good by indulging in self-righteous indignation when the father immediately forgives the younger brother and reconfirms his status as a son. Then the father reassures his elder son, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (Luke 15:31).
The financial center of London, expanded in recent years, is known as the City. It houses major banks, insurance companies, and the London Stock Exchange. Reports of the current traumas in the City and beyond bring to mind this passage from the Bible: "There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man" (Eccl. 9:14, 15).
This message reassures us of the power of prayer, the prayers of each one of us. We can pray to acknowledge that God can and will provide all the wisdom, stability, and confidence that our world needs today.