Guilt . . . or gratitude?

Sitting alone recently at a little table in a sun-filled nook in my small kitchen, I was enjoying a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and an especially good doughnut. I had become accustomed to being alone after many years of active family life, and this was a quiet, peaceful moment.

Suddenly I felt a depressing sense of guilt at being at peace and having my hunger and thirst satisfied when so many people I had been reading about were miserable and hungry. The happy feeling of comfort began to leave, and I became sad about being unable to feed and comfort all the world's hungry and anguished.

Then I remembered Christ Jesus' uncondemning attitude from the very beginning of his earthly ministry when he turned the water into wine for the wedding feast , and later when he fed the five thousand in the wilderness. I saw that instead of my being mentally pulled into the misery and hunger I had been reading about, it would be much more productive to become gratefully aware of God's loving provision for all, as Jesus showed in his feeding of the multitude two thousand years ago.

I began to see that what I was enjoying in my orange juice and doughnut was tangible evidence of God's love and provision for all His creation. In a sense, that breakfast was a gift of God, like rain or air or sunlight. I had to see it as cause for rejoicing, not guilt; for gratitude, not self-condemnation.

When I had finished my breakfast, appreciating it as evidence of universal, impartial good, I wrote a check for a charitable institution. I had hesitated to do this before because of other pressing demands. Now I found great joy in contributing toward the alleviation of distress throughout the world. And the other demands were easily cared for as well.

A state of depression and guilt might appeal to mortal mentality as sympathetic, Christian concern for the welfare of others. But in my case I saw it was basically a yielding of thought to the suggestion that God was absent from much of the universe most of the time. That, I knew, was not true.

Through a sense of God's presence and omnipotence we come to have some appreciation of real being. We begin to recognize our own true identity and the true identity of all people as His perpetually cared for offspring, living in His perfect spiritual universe.

Jesus taught his disciples for all time to pray what has become known and loved by Christians as the Lord's Prayer. It begins, ''Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name'' n1 Certainly ''Our Father'' does not give to some of His children and withhold from others. But this spiritual truth needs to be proved, and Jesus has shown us the way. Through his Christly compassion he demonstrated universal, impartial love, which enfolds all individuals everywhere.

n1 Matthew 6:9.

Christian Science teaches this daily prayer, given by Mary Baker Eddy: n2 '' 'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!'' n3

n2 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Fonder of Christian Science.

n3 Manual of the Mother Church, Article VIII, Sect. 4

The "reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love" feeds and clothes, satisfies and sustains, without favoritism. All mankind must eventually have evidence of this impartial Love. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:. . . which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. Psalms 146:5, 7

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