Finding calm in times of change
A Christian Science perspective: The authority of God’s government is eternal.
—We live in an age of great flux, and it can seem tempting to want a more familiar world.
But fear of change can miss the big picture. There is a spiritual view of the world to consider, what might be called an eternal authority of good and righteous government that is in operation now and always.
This government is not like the tides, advancing and receding, because it is the government of an unchanging God. God can be defined as divine Mind, the permanent source and governor of all being. Divine goodness can never be undermined, contravened, contaminated, or limited, no matter how powerful material forces may seem to be. We can help make this permanent reign of goodness more apparent for ourselves and the world in the quiet of prayerful communion with God. In the words of Psalms, “Be still, and know that I am God” (46:10).
With this more spiritual sense, we can see beyond the immediate turmoil we and the world might find ourselves in and expect abundant good to prevail. In this way, in dark or confusing times, prayer can push us all higher. That isn’t just wishful thinking. It’s an outcome we see in many Bible stories, and can experience ourselves.
For instance, many centuries ago Israel was consumed with severe drought and famine. But, seeing beyond what the material senses were reporting, the prophet Elijah told the Israelite king Ahab to “eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain” (I Kings 18:41). Elijah then went up to Mount Carmel, and asked his servant to keep an eye on the sky. At first the servant saw no evidence of rain. But eventually he saw a tiny cloud, “like a man’s hand” (I Kings 18:44). Soon there was indeed abundant rain, as the prophet had discerned there would be.
We can all, like Elijah, be immensely valuable prophets in times of upheaval, seeing beyond the material picture to the spiritual truth of God’s governance. We can pray like the Psalmist, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalms 119:18).
God’s law includes the underlying truth that the real universe is created by Spirit – not material and liable to change for the worse. “The true theory of the universe, including man, is not in material history but in spiritual development,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, and this newspaper. “Inspired thought relinquishes a material, sensual, and mortal theory of the universe, and adopts the spiritual and immortal” (Science and Health, p. 547). Holding to the “spiritual and immortal” idea of being in the midst of change helps bring calm and healing.
Once, when I was a consultant to an American company operating in Iraq at the time of the American invasion, I found myself sitting on the floor in my hotel room, laptop on my knees, writing an essay for The Christian Science Monitor about my experience. I could hear gunfire on the street below, but my thought remained focused on the wonderful goodness I felt as a result of knowing and experiencing God’s presence during my time there. This wasn’t an ignoring of the hardship being faced by others; it was an expression of confidence in divine goodness as more powerful than the appearance of evil. The next morning I learned there had been no casualties on either side from the gun battle that had taken place. To me, that felt like no coincidence.
Christ Jesus was so completely at peace when he found himself in a boat on a lake in the middle of a storm that he lay quietly asleep. When his disciples awakened him, out of fear, he simply “arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (see Mark 4:36-41).
We are all heirs of Jesus’ teachings and demonstrations of God’s authority. His commanding, spiritual rebuke of seemingly threatening circumstances is one that spiritual seers today can learn to take up. In Mrs. Eddy’s words: “Mind is the grand creator, and there can be no power except that which is derived from Mind. If Mind was first chronologically, is first potentially, and must be first eternally, then give to Mind the glory, honor, dominion, and power everlastingly due its holy name” (Science and Health, p. 143).
We’re in good hands when we know that God is in charge.