Nothing's more discouraging than to feel that despite our best efforts, even our prayers, things are pretty much going to stay the same. Especially if we're struggling with chronic sin. Or a longtime illness. Or unemployment. Or an unhappy marriage. Or an impossible political situation.
But things can change for the better, right now.
When we're feeling resistance to progressive change, what we're really confronting are some very fundamental beliefs of the human mind. These beliefs, which may be consciously or unconsciously held, claim to act as laws, determining our experience, if we let them.
What are these hindering beliefs? We sometimes hear them voiced in the following terms: ''There's no use trying; nothing ever changes.'' ''The odds against you are simply too great.'' ''You can't fight city hall.'' ''Even if you manage to make a change, it's still going to be 'business as usual.' '' And perhaps most perverse of all: ''The more things change, the more they stay the same.''
No doubt you could add to the list. But these arguments all boil down to two basic assertions: (1) that we are what we are, and can't change it; (2) that there's nothing powerful enough to change circumstances in a fundamental way. Put into theological terms, these two assertions become: (1) Man is a sinful mortal, confined in matter and limited by matter; and (2) There is no God who makes a real difference in the world.
Behind every feeling of hopelessness, despair, discouragement, futility, are these two lies. And lies are exactly what they are. There is not an atom of truth in either of them. Consequently, this very day our prayers can begin to free us from the stultifying effects of these false beliefs.
The spiritual fact we can affirm in prayer is that man is not at all what the material senses say he is. This is the ''open secret'' of Christ Jesus' life and teachings. We find him pointing us toward spiritual sonship with God, life in and of Spirit, not life confined to matter.
The Bible, speaking of God's great love for us, says, ''Beloved, now are we the sons of God.'' Does this mean biological entities are God's sons? No. ''It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he (God) shall appear, we shall be like him,'' n1 the same verse goes on to say.
n1 I John 3.2.
To be God's likeness - that certainly can't mean existing as a finite mortal! Clearly, immense spiritual progress must occur, a putting off of the false, material sense of selfhood in the way Jesus showed us. And this assuredly means overcoming the insidious lie that we cannot change for the better, i.e., that we are matter-bound mortals.
So how do we bring real change to our lives and the world, which is to say, how do we become more Godlike? The Bible verse above intimates that we are transformed as God appears, becomes more real to us. To know God as He is changes us. It changes circumstances for the better. Thus progressive change requires refuting lie number two - the general belief that there is no God who makes a difference in the world.
That there is a God who makes a difference becomes self-evident to those who seek Him unconditionally, wholeheartedly, and without human preconception. The truth is that God is continually revealing Himself to man's spiritual senses. In prayer we become aware of this revelation and begin to feel His presence. If God isn't becoming more real to us, perhaps we need to spiritualize our concept of Him.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, explains: ''If we pray to God as a corporeal person, this will prevent us from relinquishing the human doubts and fears which attend such a belief, and so we cannot grasp the wonders wrought by infinite, incorporeal Love, to whom all things are possible.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 13.
To see God as He really is - infinite, ever-present Love that supports and strengthens us - opens up our lives to a divine power that makes progressive change unstoppable. Never accept that progress can be stymied. We can improve ourselves, our institutions, our society, when we understand that the very nature of reality supports our efforts to transcend whatever is evil, ugly, ordinary, painful, hateful, debased, limited - all that is unlike God.
Who says things can't change for the better? Not God! To know and see God as He is means things can start changing right now. %DAILY BIBLE VERSE God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. II Smuel 22.33