HAVE you ever been caught off guard and found yourself suddenly facing defeat? Perhaps it was an unexpected divorce or a sudden business reversal. Perhaps it was a child announcing he no longer agreed with the moral and ethical standards he had been raised with. Or maybe it was something as small as a flubbed dinner prepared for special company. Does God occasionally make mistakes throughout His creation? Has He forgotten us at times, let us ask for His help in vain, or let us fail here and there along the way? Sometimes it seems so. But those views of God certainly don't honor Him. They hardly describe the God that Christ Jesus adoringly called Father, or the God the apostle described as Love. Jesus and his followers proved God's tender care for His creation, even in what appeared to be devastating circumstances.
While it may sound simplistic, what underlies all defeat is really a misconception of the nature of God and His creation. The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,1 states it this way: ``It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony.''2 The ignorance comes in many forms, but it usually boils down to the belief that a spiritual and perfect God somehow created a material, imperfect creation. And from this mistaken premise comes the defeat, confusion, sorrow, and disappointment the world has so long struggled with. But it's not unreasonable to question such a premise and live from a different basis. Many have. In the Bible the Preacher writes, ``Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.''3
In today's society there is much that would contradict the spiritual reality of man's perfection. Among the larger challenges are communicable diseases, terrorism, poverty, child abuse. Sometimes it seems as though we've made little headway in resolving these problems. But it's not because they can't be overcome. Perhaps it's because we need to approach this work with a greater recognition of the spiritual reality of God and man. This might include taking further steps to pattern our lives after the upright man -- the spiritual man -- of God's creating.
This spiritual, original man is our only true individuality, and it can be discovered at any time. Discoveries happen when one is willing to venture past assumed limits and common viewpoints. The same is true with spiritual discovery. We go beyond material reasoning and a limited, superficial sense of things, using our inherent spiritual sense to get clearer views of God's creation. Daily prayer and Bible study help us to become more aware of and to cultivate our spiritual sense. The greater expression of such qualities as humility, meekness, and purity is indicative of a growing spiritual sense. They help to release us from the pride and selfishness that often perpetuate defeat.
Christian Science teaches the usefulness of our experience as a means for learning more about God. So defeat doesn't have to be a sad ending. And there's no sense wasting any experience. Through compelling us to seek God's help, the day-to-day struggles can turn us away from entrenched material assumptions and toward the solid spiritual qualities that reveal our true selfhood and strengthen our endeavors.
Mrs. Eddy writes: ``Experience is victor, never the vanquished; and out of defeat comes the secret of victory. That to-morrow starts from to-day and is one day beyond it, robes the future with hope's rainbow hues.''4
1The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2Science and Health, p. 390. 3Ecclesiastes 7:29. 4Miscellaneous Writings, p. 339.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:57