Scan the headlines in practically any country, and you'll be likely to find uncertainty about the stability of employment, government affairs, healthcare, the economy, the housing market, education. Many are wondering, "Where are we going? What will happen to me when we get there?"
People confronted with major change in any era – from ancient times to the Great Depression, the World Wars, more recent conflicts, as well as 9/11 and afterward – have asked those questions. They may seem more urgent now, however, because the world is so interconnected. What happens in the US, China, or Brazil soon ripples out to other countries. In essence, stability and progress are in everyone's hands.
A touchstone for many has been Jesus' conviction of God's presence and love, and divine guidance in showing that this is where we need to look for answers. In one of his dialogues with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, Jesus responded to their request for a sign from heaven by asking, "Ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matt. 16:3).
One of today's "signs" is that "one conceptual world view is [being] replaced by another," as Thomas Kuhn described major shifts in scientific thought in his popular book, "The Structure of Scientific Revolution." In this case the shift in thought is affecting the world's economic and financial outlook at every level. To some degree, it is restructuring thought from the humblest consumer to the top executives and government officials around the world.
Uncertainty about jobs, reduced salaries in the manufacturing sector, and major shifts in the economy have challenged both employees and management, along with their families. Spiritual thinkers are in a unique position to help individuals and the world through this period of major transition. Mary Baker Eddy was well aware of the spiritual strength such change requires. Her discovery of Christian Science began a revolution that is still going on. In this passage she told how to ride the waves, and not be drowned by them: "To preserve a long course of years still and uniform, amid the uniform darkness of storm and cloud and tempest, requires strength from above, – deep draughts from the fount of divine Love" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896," p. ix).
These draughts, poured into consciousness, remind one that each of us is spiritual, made in God's likeness. Material conditions may be uncertain, but one can build a permanent spiritual foundation on understanding the Christ, God's message of love for humanity. Jesus spent his life articulating it for each one of us. That message declares, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20).
And it's worth remembering that while the world may be experiencing the end of established paradigms in economics and international relations, we are still under God's care. We can expect Him to reveal new models – fresh and full of promise.
The road through this time of change leads only one way – upward toward new views of God. It requires courage to persist when the ground underneath one's feet is trembling, but each of us can do this by trusting, even to a degree, in the divine Mind as all-knowing and all-seeing. In Mind, there is no doubt about the outcome. Intelligence is and always has been the currency and substance of Mind's creation. It follows, then, that the conditions that seem to be causing so much distress cannot be the outcome of Mind's orderly purpose for us. Mind doesn't play favorites – provide for some and not for others. Nor does Mind create ideas with no useful function. Each of God's sons and daughters has a purpose, and because God is one, we, as children of the one Mind, are also one – one in purpose and one with each other.
The apparent gap between the difficulties the world is experiencing and the perfection of God can sometimes breed discouragement and despair. It may seem that God is absent. One may be tempted to substitute human willpower or force to overcome personal obstacles, or to retreat into a purely intellectual approach to a crisis. Such thoughts are predicated on the belief that we are material, not spiritual, and that we here on earth are sending signals to a God who is elsewhere and listens to our needs only intermittently. Mary Baker Eddy perceived something quite different. She taught that God is "All-in-all, forever near" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 596)
In an ultimate sense, this is the promise all of us can rely on, no matter how hard the times are, or how our lives are affected by shifting sands. Nothing will ever be able to separate us from divine Love. And with that spiritual fact held firmly in thought, we can go forward with confidence, supporting our fellow men and women through a conviction of God's care for all of us.
Reprinted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.