Beyond stress

With all the coverage given to stress and burnout these days, it's important not to lose sight of the bigger picture: there is an unfailing source to sustain, inspire, and heal us. We're never alone, dependent on uncertain and finite resources - not when we remember God. The Bible uses a metaphor to describe the unceasing flow of life-giving qualities from God to His creation: "Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river ..." (Isa. 66:12).

The current described here is no seasonal brook that can dry up suddenly, but an enduring and constant stream of abundance, like the mighty Nile flowing through a parched land. The promise here is that even our greatest needs - for strength, direction, love - are met by the undepletable resources of infinite goodness. We live in the presence of God - of Mind so limitless, and Love so inexhaustible, that we can't run out of the good that flows unstoppably from God.

There's also something wonderful to see about our relationship to that source, to God's infinite being. We're not just supplicants coming to the source for refills. We are actually one with the source. Describing that inseparable relationship, the textbook of Christian Science says, "Man is the expression of God's being" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, pg. 470).

A glimpse of this relationship with God as His very expression has power to renew us in a moment. Some years ago I took on a new responsibility that involved considerable demands on my time. As I launched into this work, someone in my family became ill and required my care. One day I just felt overwhelmed. How would I cope with this on top of everything else?

I prayed. And I called a friend to pray with me. A couple of ideas came right away that cut through my fear. One was simply that God heals. It struck me how reliable divine power is - so much more trustworthy than any human ability. God heals by showing us the perfect reality He creates and knows.

This reality is the only reality. It is true to God's own nature. It's eternal, spiritual, painless. As tangible as pain and sickness seem, they have no place in God's realm. They are, finally, a mistake that stems from believing that life is separate from God. But the infinite Giver, the source that extends peace to us like a river, corrects this mistake by filling us with the understanding that our life is spiritual and harmonious. Divine Truth heals mind and body.

Another idea led me a little further. It was to think about the relative I was caring for in terms of spiritual qualities she expressed. It was easy to think of her as generous, intelligent, appreciative. Sickness had no place in this essential identity.

Again, "Man is the expression of God's being." God's being is entirely pure and good, and so is ours as God's expression. We're actually one with the source of health. "I and my Father are one," Jesus said (John 10:30), and he proved it by compassionately caring for others, even healing multitudes, without exhaustion.

My feeling of stress lifted quickly. Over the next few months, I went on with the extra work and family commitments. It wasn't always easy, but I had a clearer sense of the unfailing source of inspiration and strength. And my relative, who relied on prayer for healing, was cured.

Whatever our need is, divine Love has power that dwarfs even the mightiest river. And we don't have to journey to the source. We're already one with it. We are the expression of infinite Mind and Life.

Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.... Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?... Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Matthew 6:25, 27, 34

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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