'God bless America' - what does it really mean?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Signs with this message are displayed all around our city. The signs appear to be a prayer. While it's not clear exactly what was in the thought of the people posting them, the signs do reflect a reaching out for assurance that God's love and blessing will wipe away the shock and gnawing fear that remain after the terrorist attack. The signs acknowledge that there is a God, whose nature is to bless.

When I see those signs, the words of the song play out in my thought. Within the song, the prayer is expanded to include an appeal that God will stand beside us and guide us. For today, that would mean His giving us the insight to know what we need to know in order to make right choices and intelligent responses. The song-prayer also asks for all of us to be included in this prayer for blessing and guidance - those in the mountains, the prairies, and near the oceans.

God does bless us, because it's the nature of God to bless. But not just those of us in America. God is blessing everyone throughout the world. The Bible tells of the power of God and tells us how He uses this power on our behalf. Words in the Bible that characterize God, such as almighty, honorable, glorious, merciful, the giver of all good, likewise reinforce our trust in and reliance on God. But perhaps the most comforting description is that God is our Father, and that we are all God's sons and daughters.

We each have an eternal relationship with God as our Father, who, in His comforting, can also be seen as our Mother. That is a most special blessing. In this relationship with God is found all the nurturing, embracing, and cherishing of a mother, as well as the security and safety of a father's protecting care.

The Bible illustrates this Father-Mother relationship of God to each of us in many ways. One, for example, is the assurance that despite the evil that someone might do, we can trust in God to order our steps, so we can be safe. Likewise, there is the promise that God will feed and protect us in the same way a faithful and vigilant shepherd cares for his flock.

The fact of God's fathering and mothering is all-inclusive. Even those who don't know God as Father-Mother or don't specifically acknowledge this connection in their worship of a supreme being are still God's sons and daughters.

God naturally loves His children. This love is universal, so each individual in the world is included. It's impartial: God doesn't have any favorites. Or rather, each one is a favorite, or a chosen son or daughter. And the fathering and mothering is unconditional. It is given without our needing to earn it. All are inherently worthy of God's love, and it is freely given to all.

One particularly important aspect of the blessing of God's fathering and mothering is that this relationship to God is made clear to us through the Christ. God intends for us to know Him, and He makes sure that we do. He is showing Himself to each of us, clarifying and deepening our knowledge of Him and making clear our connection as son or daughter. This message from God could be something like this, "I am your Father-Mother, and I love you dearly as my son or daughter. I have made you, I will care for you, and you will be mine forever. Do not be afraid. Rather, lift up your head, for you are my beloved." The following statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Monitor's founder, shows the power and universality of this divine message: "The 'still, small voice' of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound. The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, 'as when a lion roareth.' It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 559).

So, is God blessing America? Of course. God is blessing everyone in America and everyone in every country of the world. We can all hear the benediction: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace" (Num. 6:24-26).

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