A psalm of hope for today
A Christian Science perspective.
When the Psalmist wrote, "O my God, my soul is cast down within me" (Ps. 42:6), maybe things weren't going so well in his life. Perhaps the enemy was close on his heels. I've found that if I'm feeling down, I can say, like that Psalmist who trusted God beyond anything else said a few verses later, "Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God" (42:11).
Prayer to an all-powerful God can dispel depressed and defeated feelings quickly and effectively. Whether we feel cut off from God or our focus on our own problems fills us with darkness, prayer to God, who loves each of us as His dear children, can release fresh hope and encouragement. God is as close to us as He was to the Psalmist, to help us leap over hurdles. And the psalms are universal, speaking today as they did thousands of years ago, to humanity's hunger for a God of comfort.
The psalms are filled with poignant moments of sorrow, lament, and even bleakness. But often, right on the heels of those moments – as in Psalm 42 – there is confident celebrating, praising, and affirmation of the power, presence, ability, and supremacy of God to overcome all suffering. They declare that no one is ever apart from God's goodness and love.
The 23rd Psalm says, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." This deep connection with God – especially in overwhelming moments – is right now available for each of us as we turn in gratitude and openness to God to receive it.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, had a deep love for God and for humanity, which impelled her to seek spiritual solutions for the world's suffering. She wrote a book for all seekers of God called "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," in which she wrote: "In divine Science, man is the true image of God. The divine nature was best expressed in Christ Jesus, who threw upon mortals the truer reflection of God and lifted their lives higher than their poor thought-models would allow, – thoughts which presented man as fallen, sick, sinning, and dying" (p. 259).
The divine nature of man – meaning every man, woman, and child – is the image and likeness of God. In truth, it is the only identity we have. Being aware of this divine nature enables me to see that limited mortal concepts, such as feeling down about life, always have been false and are false now, because they are not concepts from God. They are not authorized by God and have no staying power or ability to direct our thoughts or decisions.
Mrs. Eddy wrote: "We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering?... We must form perfect models in thought and then look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives" (Science and Health, p. 248). Depressing or discouraging thought-models don't constitute who we are. Because the divine nature includes permanent spiritual models of harmony, joy, expectancy, and constancy, poor thought-models can vanish. Looking to and living consistently with spiritual thought-models gives us dominion over the ups and downs of life.
Looking to spiritual thought-models doesn't mean ignoring the human situation or hoping it will just go away. It's really a kind of prayer that helps change the view from self-absorption to a willingness to turn to the ever-present power of the divine Mind. Then problems don't appear so impressive and predominant. Light-hearted expectancy of good becomes increasingly more real and substantial than whatever is confronting us. Indeed, a hopeful heart knows that good is here and expects to see it.
This spiritual perspective enables us to "carve out" more progressive conditions. If the difficult situation facing us doesn't change immediately, a growing patience, conviction, and refusal to succumb to discouragement will brighten the path and bring comfort.
God continuously gives us improved, spiritual models, all based on our inseparable relationship to Him. These good models are established in this relationship and are permanently available.