Trials of strength
TRIALS of strength are a common feature of current life, with mountaineers and skiers and other athletes intent on proving themselves in their own particular field, while the rest of us look on with interest and sometimes exhiliration. Inventors and technicians, too, derive great satisfaction from perfecting their designs and giving demonstrations of them. I remember passing a hangar where an important new airplane was being tested. This made me realize how imperative it was for the engine to be proved at every point before it was put into service, and also how thorough the people concerned in its construction had to be. This was obviously a very rewarding and fulfilling experience for them. Their eagerness to break out of limitations outweighed the difficulties they encountered.
There was a large notice outside the hangar that read: ``Engine Trials. Keep Out!'' The word trials struck a chord in my thought, because just at that time I was being quite severely tested myself, caught up in the backwash of world events, which completely changed my life style. Obviously, I was thinking of trials quite differently. I was feeling victimized and resentful at having to go through them. I had always thought of God as Love, and now I was tempted to feel that He had abandoned me.
Then it dawned on me that I had an even greater incentive than the athletes and the engineers, because through the study of Christian Science I was learning how to break out of the limitations imposed by the common conception of man as a sin-prone, mortal personality. I was learning that everyone's true selfhood is the image and likeness of God, as the Bible describes man. And I was coming to see that we can prove that God is Love, not just in some places that seem acceptable and congenial, but everywhere and for everyone.
So my trials were really tests of strength and faith and resilience and steadfastness -- opportunities to prove the spiritual reality of God's supremacy and man's likeness to Him; to prove, regardless of circumstances, that He governs man in perfect harmony. I needed more than human will and human endurance to do this. I needed more than a good human performance or a determination to be stronger and wiser and better by my own unaided efforts. I needed most of all the understanding prayer that turns to divine Love unreservedly for reassurance and guidance. This was quite a breakthrough in my thinking at the time, and a great deal of progress followed.
Christ Jesus made every day a new trial of strength, a new opportunity to prove God's power and support in meeting all the challenges that arose. And he expected his followers to do the same. The Bible says: ``The trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.''1 Mary Baker Eddy, who faced plenty of trials in discovering and founding Christian Science, writes: ``Who hath not learned that when alone he has his own thoughts to guard, and when struggling with mankind his temper, and in society his tongue? We also have gained higher heights; have learned that trials lift us to that dignity of Soul which sustains us, and finally conquers them; and that the ordeal refines while it chastens.''2
Divine Love is always present to help and strengthen us, wherever we may be or whatever we may be doing. Through prayer, and a deepening desire to know and express the divine nature in our lives, we can come to feel this more consistently. We often tend to be more aware of God's presence when we seem to be in difficulties than when everything is going smoothly. But if we strive all the time to understand Him better, we'll confront our trials of strength more confidently, however formidable they may seem at the time.
1James 1:3-5. 2Miscellaneous Writings,p. 126.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15:58