AS nations struggle to balance economic demands, we are hearing much about shortages of funds. There just doesn't seem to be enough money to go around. While the needs of this time may seem particularly acute to us, the challenge of balancing supply and demand is not new. It has affected people of ancient as well as modern times. And a large number of these individuals have found the answer to their individual needs in a closer acquaintance with God and His law.
Through their understanding of God, they saw something of the spiritual nature of life and perceived how a grasp of this fact will meet very real human needs. They were also freed from considering only the ``bottom line'' as they learned to approach their economic needs from a spiritual standpoint instead of looking only at material resources.
One of these people, the Bible tells us, was a widow whose two sons were going to be sold into slavery because she couldn't pay her debts. Before she consented to this loss, however, she took a step toward God, who is divine Love. She appealed to Elisha, a prophet of God, for help.
Perhaps she thought he would give her some money. Or that he would persuade her creditors to give her more time to pay. Instead, Elisha asked her what she had in the house. She replied that all she had was a pot of oil. A small thing perhaps, but it did indicate that she was not completely without resources.
Elisha then told her to borrow as many containers from her neighbors as she could, and to fill them with oil from this pot. Unlikely solution as this advice seemed to be, she was obedient. She was able to fill every container that had been borrowed. And when she inquired of Elisha what she should do now, II Kings records that he told her, ``Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.''
This Biblical example of God's care shows us that often the answers we need are right at hand. Christ Jesus' message that the kingdom of God is within us reinforces the need to look within ourselves first in order to find the answers we -- and our nations -- need.
We need to look for the abilities or qualities we already have that will help us to meet the demands being made on us. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, makes this point in an article in her Miscellaneous Writings. She explains, ``God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies.'' So we need to keep our eyes open to discern these spiritual ideas, which come from God.
We do this by keeping clearly in thought the spiritual fact of our unbreakable relationship to God. As God's offspring, we are fully spiritual and have access to all the good that God, Love, is giving us. We lose sight of this good only when we get stuck in the belief that we are material entities with only finite resources.
An illustration of this point is given in the Gospels. On two occasions, Jesus fed several thousand people. Before he did this, he asked the disciples what resources they had. In each case, they reported only a few loaves and fishes. It's evident from the Bible's accounts that the disciples were definitely looking at the bottom line and finding a pretty large deficit.
Christ Jesus, on the other hand, was looking at his relationship to God and his certainty that divine Love would never want its children to suffer. From this standpoint he was able not just to feed thousands of people but even to have leftovers!
To follow in the Master's footsteps, then, is to look within ourselves for the spiritual resources God has given us. Is there a talent we have that we aren't using? Do we see a need somewhere and have an insight into how to meet it? Prayer to understand our essential spiritual -- and therefore unlimited -- nature will help us pursue these possibilities.
If we need a job, for example, we can pray to know our worth as a son or daughter of God. We can recognize the spiritual qualities -- love, joy, integrity, wisdom, and so on -- that we can bring to the work. These spiritual attributes not only affirm our relationship to God; they also make us valuable employees.
Similarly on the national scene our prayers can address the economic challenges our individual nations are facing. Like our own needs, these also stem from the belief that God's goodness can be lost or limited. Greed, for instance, lusts after more and more material goods because it rests on fear of lack. Here, our prayers to see God's loving government as a universal spiritual fact -- even as we individually prove this in our lives -- will do much to protect us from economic ups and downs.
And as we pray diligently to increase our ability to perceive God's government, the larger national scene will benefit as well. These evidences of progress may be gradual. But they will come as we are willing to see the spiritual resources within us and our nations and to recognize that they come from God. BIBLE VERSE Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages.... Ephesians 3:20, 21