THE pursuit of happiness is commonly perceived to be a basic human right; yet so many people, including those who appear to have the greatest material resources and freedom with which to seek happiness, find it elusive. Likewise, health care, widely regarded as a basic human right, often fails to provide desired relief even to those who are most able to purchase it. Happiness, health, wealth, and personal success are elements of what is sometimes called ``the good life.'' For centuries mankind have by and large sought these goals in some form of materiality. In the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes tells of a man who used his great wealth to obtain everything the world offered. But after having experienced it all, he declared it to be vanity, concluding that man's duty actually lies in a very different pursuit. He summarized his findings this way: ``Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.''1
If the pursuit of personal goals without any thought of glorifying God is more important to us than service to Him, we are doing what an old clich describes as putting the cart before the horse; and that, of course, obstructs progress. But to put God first in our thoughts, motives, and desires starts life rolling in a forward direction. A more healthy and satisfying experience follows.
Christ Jesus was aware of the tendency of human nature to place high priority on pursuing the physical necessities of a good life. Directing thought to a spiritual sense of being, he said, ``Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.''2
To press toward health and security without having a sincere desire to know and serve God better would be about as effective as trying to cut a path through a tangled jungle with a butter knife instead of a machete. Extricating oneself from the increasing entanglement would inevitably occupy more time than enjoying the small gains. The cutting edge of Truth and driving force of Love, of the one almighty God, must lead the way if health and happiness, the effects of Truth and Love, are to follow.
The goal in seeking healing through prayer in Christian Science isn't only to restore the body to a normal condition, as important as that is. Our main concern is for a spiritual understanding of what God and man really are. As we pursue this goal with deep sincerity, the impact of divine Truth dawning on receptive human consciousness displaces discord with an overriding awareness of the spiritual facts of being--of God's infinite goodness and of man's likeness to this incorporeal, perfect creator. The horse is placed before the cart, the obstruction to progress is removed, and healing follows.
This healing process is operative in the life of anyone in any time or place who turns wholeheartedly to God as the All-in-all, as the number one priority, and walks steadfastly in the way of God's appointing. Any time we feel dissatisfied with the quality of our existence in spite of our best efforts to improve it, we would do well to take an honest look at our priorities. What are we pursuing? Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``The objects we pursue and the spirit we manifest reveal our standpoint, and show what we are winning.''3
While Christ Jesus never promised us a life of material comfort, he did say that those who accept and hold firmly to his teachings would witness signs of healing.4 When we subordinate materialistic goals to the pursuit of a practical understanding of Jesus' teachings, increased health and happiness follow as naturally as the cart follows the horse.
1Ecclesiastes 12:13. 2Matthew 6:33. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 239. 4See Mark 16:17, 18. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life. I Timothy 6:11, 12