I threw the pen on the desk, hitting the calculator, and sat back. I couldn't do the math, and nothing I tried helped me understand either the problems or the principles used to solve them.
And I really needed to solve those problems. If I couldn't pass the test I was preparing for, I wouldn't gain the accreditation I needed in order to work. Without the math, I was sunk.
I'd been responsible. I'd attended classes, taken notes, done the homework. But I'd never been a particularly talented math student, and I simply labored on and on in the dark.
I saw this as an opportunity to turn to God. I'd had a lot of healings, and this, it seemed to me, was what it would take to pass the test - a pretty big healing.
I began by getting reacquainted with who and what I am in God's eyes - His child. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, reiterated our origin as first noted in Genesis 1:26. She said, "Man is God's image and likeness;" and then went on to note "whatever is possible to God, is possible to man as God's reflection" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 183).
Since she used "man" to mean both male and female, I knew that this statement meant that because God had made me to image forth His divine nature, I reflected all that God is by virtue of that unbroken, continuing relationship. What God knew, I also had the capacity to know. And since, as Mrs. Eddy also said, "The Scriptures imply that God is All-in-all," I knew that what seemed to be a lack of understanding just couldn't exist in God's allness ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 331).
Either I was intimately connected to God or I wasn't. Either I imaged forth His complete understanding or I didn't. Finally I saw that both portions of those statements couldn't be true. I knew which I could rely on: I was God's beloved child, ever expressing all that God expresses. So, I saw that what I had to do was quit straining so much and turn to God for the understanding I needed.
That's what I did. Quietly, as I continued to prepare for the test, I asked God to clarify what I needed to understand. Instead of getting frustrated and self-condemning, I stilled my thought and simply listened.
It was a great lesson to learn, and one that I've applied over and over ever since then. We all have times in our lives when we don't know the answer to big questions that need real answers - questions such as which job we should take or if and whom we should marry. And on a larger scale, there are political leaders who need to know how to help the people they lead, how to make peace with neighbors, what treaties to sign. Large, important questions that affect countless lives.
As I practiced not being frustrated or fearful of failure and, instead, quietly asked God for direction, I received it. I gradually - and clearly through no effort of my own - began to understand the principles needed to solve the math problems I faced.
It was such a joy to see so completely what I'd been equally blind to just a week before. And by the time the test rolled around, I had mastered every sort of problem I'd need to know how to solve. I passed the test and earned my accreditation.
But the real lesson was that God's love for us is so complete, so all-present, that it meets any sort of need we have. All we need to do is be quiet enough listen for it and accept it.
The Lord giveth wisdom:
out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.