Faith first

Perhaps you've thought, while facing a dire situation, ''If God pulls me through this one, then I'll really be a believer!'' Maybe you've tried to strike a bargain with God: ''Father, if You give me what I want, then I'll give You what You want.''

Fortunately, God does not negotiate with us. His nature is unending, unfailing, impartial Love, and His care for His creation is not conditional. Regardless of the desperate moral, financial, or physical straits we may be in, divine Love is here to restore us.

Often, however, we have trouble believing this. We may casually lament, ''Not even the Almighty can clear up this mess.''

But a more faithful view of God's omnipotence is exactly what can purify, supply, and heal us. Our need is to adopt faith first, even before the challenge at hand is corrected. Progress comes more readily when we think, ''I have faith in God's love,'' instead of, ''I'll have faith in God's love if . . . .''

Christ Jesus, who has taught us so much about relying on God, rebuked those who would not believe in God's omnipotence until they saw physical evidence to confirm it. The disciple Thomas actually spelled out three prerequisites for faith in God's power to resurrect Jesus: ''Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.''n1 In effect, Thomas was saying, tangible evidence first, faith second.

n1John 20:25

This attitude must have disappointed Jesus, for on many occasions the Master had asked his students, and those whom he healed, to express faith in God's goodness and control even before the need had been met. When two blind men came to Jesus for healing, he asked: ''Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.'' Jesus then healed them, saying, ''According to your faith be it unto you.''n2

n2 Matthew 9:28, 29.

Each of us has the God-derived ability to express this same kind of faith - a faith that confidently expects the manifestation of God's saving love. We are not called upon to accept a blind faith, but a faith that grows from a heartfelt understanding of God's omnipotent goodness.

We cannot deepen our apprehension of God's potent love if we are only willing to trust His guidance, strength, and justice after the storm has passed. We need to demonstrate allegiance to God right when the rain and wind are fiercest. This fortifies our certainty of God's present power. Then faith blossoms into the unshakable understanding that we can never leave His harmonious control.

The writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, show us how to daily fortify our trust in the Almighty. They explain that the healing power demonstrated by Jesus was not a brief flurry of divine mercy, but a practical, accessible statement of God's tender ever-presence. They reveal that the very God whom Jesus relied on is also ours to depend on.

''It is not well,'' Mrs. Eddy writes, ''to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.''n3

n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen . . . he thatcometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11: 1,6

This law -- that ''divine Love supplies all good'' -- stands at the heart of Christian Science and provides a rational foundation for our faith. (And we'll kindle faith even if at some point we seem as doubting as Thomas.) Accepting this law, we glimpse the fact that God has not put us at the mercy of the economy or the flesh. We learn that God's man does not lack, is not diseased, and is not afraid. We are assured that God's love is keeping us whole, innocent, perfect. This is the truth we can count on before, during, and after the storms that besiege us.

As we place more and more faith in God's care for His creation, our needs will be fully met.

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