Facing adversity with grace

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

Adversity itself isn't a great teacher, but I've often learned a lot while facing adversity. During those times, I've felt curiously closer to God and known of my great need for Him.

I've also become keenly aware that I don't have all of the answers. And perhaps I've been more willing to humble myself in order to hear the direction God has ordered for my life.

I've discovered that what God has in store for me is far greater than anything I can think up. And I've learned not to buckle under adversity, but to maintain hope and anticipation regarding the outcome.

In fact, I've even heard myself asking, from time to time, "Well, I've really done it, God, so how are You going to get me out of this one?" It hasn't always been easy. Sometimes I've had to battle discouragement and fear. But when I've been quiet enough to really listen for God's guidance, I've been able to hear it.

The Beatitudes, given by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, show the blessings and grace available to every one of us. The first one strikes me as the beatitude of humility.

As a child, I first came to know it from the King James translation of the Bible, where it reads, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). Poor in spirit is the opposite of proud in spirit, so it calls for humility. J.B. Phillips translates it to say, "How happy are those who know their need for God, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!"

Facing adverse situations calls for us to know our need of God, but the promise of doing so is great – the kingdom of heaven! In other words, when we have the humility to listen for God's direction, we'll find both health and harmony in our lives. Who doesn't want that?

I've never met anyone who had a perfect childhood, and mine was no exception. Severe financial strains were exacerbated by the fact that both of my parents faced long-term illnesses. Some days we weren't sure how we were going to put food on the table. And both of my parents required a great deal of physical care from my sister and me.

My mother died when I was 20, but my dad lived for several more decades. Over all of those years, there were long periods when he required careful attention. Every time I had to attend to his needs, I learned essential lessons about loving more purely and selflessly. In a poem, the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "Love alone is Life" ("Poems," p. 7). I've had to live and prove that every day of my life.

While I wouldn't wish for anyone to face the adversity that I've encountered, I wouldn't trade what I've learned from having to address it. My most important lesson is that I can't and wouldn't want to go it alone. God is always with me to guard and guide me.

After years of allowing God to be at the helm, I've discovered that God is wholly good – a benevolent Father and Mother. I can safely put my hand in God's and expect Him-Her to lead me. That allows me to have hope, even when challenges seem great, and keeps me busy listening for and following God's lead.

I wish for all who are facing adversity to come to feel that God loves them. Everyone is precious in His eyes. No one and no circumstance is too small for His loving attention or beyond His touch.

During the years following my mother's passing, God provided the mothering I needed in a variety of ways; I just had to look for it in unexpected places. One woman helped me learn to cook. An aunt stepped in to help when I was getting married. And I found wonderful women to mentor me in business and in spiritual matters. Now, both in my work and in my personal life, I have the opportunity to provide the essential qualities of motherhood to others.

"Happy are those who know their need for God, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!" Embracing this beatitude may be the smartest thing I've ever done and has helped me face adversity with grace.

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