The Jim Lehrer News Hour recently reported how individual families are dealing with the current economic challenges. One single parent, Rosita Velez, is about to lose her severance package from her former employer and is looking for new ways to provide for her daughter. Marta Calderon is in a similar boat as she was recently laid off and is now pressed to find needed healthcare funds for herself and her grandson ("Number of newly uninsured Americans rises along with jobless rate," Feb. 11).
Throughout the nation, families of all blends are grappling to some degree with these thoughts of uncertainty. It raises the question of what it means to be a family and how to care for one another in times of need.
Even the bleakest predictions and direst circumstances cannot keep us or our families from turning to God, the true care-giving Parent. Christ Jesus assured his followers through all time, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). What tenderness Jesus conveyed in that message.
Though you might feel you're part of just another family among so many with uncontrollable financial problems, you, too, can "fear not" and turn to God. Maybe the US government was on to something when it ensured that the words "In God we trust" would be printed on its money. Those words imply that beyond bills and coins, it is in God's love and steady care that we can trust. An inflated sense of self-reliance fades as we rely confidently on God.
Trusting God and knowing that He wants the best for us is not mere positive thinking. It rests on the spiritual fact of God's love, manifest through a neighbor sharing some food, a friend volunteering to take care of one's children, a co-worker giving someone a ride to work, a spouse helping out with extra chores, a friend sharing some outgrown clothes, and many more unexpected blessings.
Since the traditional nuclear family has become less common over recent decades, many people have found a broader sense of family, including other relatives, friends, and neighbors. This less rigid, less traditional concept of kinship opens us up to share in a broader way that hints at a divine context.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper and whose study of the Bible helped her overcome many dark moments as a single parent in great financial need, wrote, "Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 332). Each one of us is God's spiritual creation, so we're connected to one another in a very significant way. And prayer to feel more of this divine kinship brings a deeper understanding of who we are as part of this universal family.
Focusing too intently on limitations such as dwindling bank accounts, shrinking benefits, and tight budgets is counterproductive to enlightening our sense of God's provision for His family. Because God is Mind, the ways in which He cares for us are creative, intelligent, and practical. An eagerness to see the evidence of divine Mind's care for creation helps put an end to being heavyhearted and uncertain. Poet John Ryland wrote, "O Lord, I would delight in Thee,/ And on Thy care depend." (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 225). Because God is the best caregiver, not one of the Father-Mother's children can slip through the cracks.
Regardless of the degree to which families are or are not encountering economic challenges, everyone is united through our relation to "one Father with His universal family, held in the gospel of Love" (Science and Health, p. 577). Instead of self-contained family units, we can all reach out and reap the benefits of a more tolerant, inclusive, and spiritual concept of family. This finds us with open hearts and arms, truly inspired. Your Father-Mother God cares for you unfailingly.