The author and humorist Mark Twain offered up this wry definition when it comes to looking on the sunny side: “Optimist: Day-dreamer more elegantly spelled.”
Let’s face it, optimism has always gotten a bum rap – and these days it’s under extra fire. “Positive thinking” in the face of wars and global economic woes can seem like sticking one’s head in the sand in the face of “reality.”
But how can we support what many see as the worthy impulse toward optimism? A recent Monitor article addressing unemployment had this headline: “Advice from a job creator: Bring on the optimism, Obama” and speaks of the need to break the cycle of fear currently keeping businesses from hiring.
Optimism has its virtues, but the real need is to go beyond trying to solve our problems from the basis of a limited human perspective. When we can start from the premise that there is only one source for making intelligent decisions – one divine Mind – and recognize the spiritual basis for each individual’s unity with God, we achieve lasting joy and satisfactory solutions.
The Christian Scientist understands that good derives from God, the divine Principle governing the universe – and man as God’s idea, dwelling in an atmosphere of all good, in which “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Mary Baker Eddy boldly conveys this in her statement, “Principle and its idea is one....” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 465). This understanding of “Principle” and “idea” as one, acknowledges God’s loving, ongoing activity as our activity, our very thought.
Acknowledging Principle and its idea, man, as the only activity in the universe precludes uncertainty. It is far from looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. It’s a vision of the universe that isn’t just our starting point, but our staying point. It’s an understanding that infinite Mind includes wholeness, stability, and vital functioning – and therefore must be expressed.
Speaking of the “material nature” that “weighs mightily in the scale against man’s high destiny,” Mrs. Eddy said: “This conclusion is not an argument either for pessimism or for optimism, but is a plea for ... full exemption from all necessity to obey a power that should be and is found powerless in Christian Science” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 119).
An encounter Jesus had with a soldier shows the difference between human optimism and the power behind spiritual conviction. When a centurion’s servant was near death, he sought Jesus’ help (see Matt. 8:5-13). Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered, “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.”
Now some, upon hearing that, might be tempted to say of the centurion, “Talk about an optimist!” But here lies the essence of the story. The centurion continued, “For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” Jesus then said to him: “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.... Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” Is it any wonder that the servant was healed?
The centurion’s unwavering confidence in the healing Christ holds a great lesson for contemporary times. The authority that he perceived in Jesus is a divinely given authority each of us possesses. It is the clear understanding that there is nowhere outside of infinite God, good, to find answers – to think “happy thoughts” or to cross our fingers and hope for the best. Only within the vast universe of all-inclusive Mind do we find peace – and the practical fruits that inevitably follow.
Talk about expecting good news.
From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.
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