"The Dow opened higher in early morning trading. However, today's session is expected to remain volatile as investors try to make sense of the financial downturn." That recent e-mail alert is just one small example of the current state of world economic affairs.
So much these days shouts volatility. For example, earlier this year the cost of oil seemed to know no limit, skyrocketing to new daily highs on the world market. Then, despite Gulf Coast hurricanes and threats of a cold winter with oil shortages, the price began to decline almost as precipitously, prompting remarks that the fears of some investors about $200-a-barrel crude oil prices were overblown. Then shock waves in stock markets sent prices suddenly surging once again.
Wall Street's turmoil, fueled in large part by the mortgage meltdown, has caused people to use scary words such as panic, collapse, and crisis. But even if the economy were humming, people everywhere would struggle to address volatile health issues, relationships that run hot and cold, weather that suddenly turns extreme, global unrest that flares up out of nowhere.
Progressive, manageable changes are helpful. Wrenching pendulum-swings are not. Prayer offers a means of enabling our own lives – and our world – to act in ways that pattern the Scripture, "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28).
One dictionary definition of "volatile" is "unable to hold the attention fixed." This hints at a mental, metaphysical antidote that empowers anyone to face down through prayer whatever threatens his or her well-being. If the inability to remain alert and attentive characterizes volatility in our lives, then we can place a high value on stable, fear-removing, peace-producing thoughts.
This is not just visualizing a state of affairs or escaping from reality. We can, through correct thinking, harness God's transforming, healing power. Mary Baker Eddy discovered this fact to be scientific and provable. "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true," she wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts" (p. 261). This takes effort, not struggle. It's the mental effort that God enables and that rests on the divine law of good. Mrs. Eddy called this law Christian Science and explained it in Science and Health.
Paul the Apostle spoke of this prayer-based effort. He encouraged the followers of the young church in Philippi – and his message still speaks to people everywhere – to think about what's true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and "of good report" (Phil. 4:8), and he promised that thinking in this way would bring God's peace. Paul's life was frequently subject to change, and often not in good ways. Preaching the message of Jesus on his travels was rigorous. Two chapters in the book of Acts show the volatility in Paul's life in those times. Shipwrecked on the way to Rome, he was rescued by kind islanders. This was followed by a potentially lethal snakebite – and his immediate proof of complete safety from harm. Next he healed a man with a grave disease and went on to heal many sick people from all over the island. Soon Paul resumed his trip to Rome.
No wonder this Christian preacher and healer would write: "I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything" (Phil. 4:12, 13, Contemporary English Version).
That healing Christ is God's saving message of light, love, and stability, speaking to each receptive consciousness right now, right where we are. This quieting power provides the strength to make a difference despite the ups and downs that threaten today's economies and political arenas, and lives public and private. Moments of calm result from thoughts that dwell on God's stable, certain creation. They spread light where there was darkness, and establish order where turmoil raged.
This article is posted on www.spirituality.com and will appear in the Christian Science Sentinel, Oct. 20.