IN a quiet moment at work I was praying. I had read about a historical event that tragically evidenced humanity's capacity for brutality, and I needed to quell my disquiet about it.
Prayer doesn't reinforce a holier-than-thou attitude of disgust at the actions of others. Nor is it a way to turn away from or ignore unpleasant news or events. Prayer demands of us a willingness to so know the allness of God, good, that we recognize evil as being fundamentally a lie. Evil falsely claims the creator's lack of control over His creation. As a Christian Scientist, I have found that approaching problems in my own life through prayer shows me that God is always governing His wholly spiritual creation. Understanding this has healed me of sickness and of sinful tendencies. In coming to grips with the historical case that I had been reading about, I needed to start with God's good government and to understand evil as a lie about God's government.
As I prayed diligently, I began to think about the issue in deeper and more constructive terms than just feeling shock at the tragedy of it. The spiritual realization dawned on me that the underlying problem I truly had to deal with was that the event presented me-and all who knew of it-with a picture of evil as very real. I needed to overthrow my own acceptance that evil could parade itself as having a record of contradicting God, good.
It became very clear to me that if I accepted evil as having a past record in this way, then I was by implication accepting evil as potentially able to have an ongoing existence as cause and effect. To do that was to allow evil the power to convince me currently of a reality that-in the light of God's omnipotence-it has never had.
I saw how I could instead challenge evil's claim to existence on the scientifically spiritual basis of the Bible's teachings that God, good, is All. The book of Psalms says plainly of God, He is ''good, and doest good'' (119:68). The recognition of this fact empowered Christ Jesus to prove God's goodness in his remarkable record of healing. He even raised the dead, showing all phases of evil to be powerless, nothing!
The Saviour's marvelous works weren't haphazard or miraculous. Nor did Jesus claim a monopoly on being able to destroy evil, though he was uniquely pure in his conscious oneness with God. Jesus' marvelous works were to bless those around him and to leave his lessons of true manhood for all throughout history. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, speaks of Jesus' works this way in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''His mission was to reveal the Science of celestial being, to prove what God is and what He does for man'' (p. 26).
God is infinite good. What He does for man, therefore, is all good, at all times, in all ways. God provides us each and all with illimitable spiritual good. This is the Science, or truth, of being. Not evil, but immeasurable good, is God's unwavering gift to us all in our true, spiritual identities as His precious offspring. Something of this dawned on me as I prayed that afternoon, and gave me a feeling of great freedom and power. My own perspective on life changed through what I glimpsed in that time of prayer.
Evil is ultimately unsustainable. We see this more clearly as we glorify God in the recognition and demonstration of divine goodness as All-in-all. In our own lives is the best place to start.
Know ye that the Lord he is God:
it is he that hath made us,
and not we ourselves;
we are his people,
and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates
and into his courts with praise . . . .
For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting.