More than optimism
A Christian Science perspective on daily life.
AS EARLY AS 1902, various newspapers noticed that Christian Scientists had a positive outlook on life. The Boston Herald mentioned that they were "remarkably cheerful and optimistic." In 1909, the Topeka State-Journal commented, "The best thing about Christian science [sic] is that it inculcates a spirit of optimism; of joy and gladness and good will."
The optimist generally expects the best outcome. That's a helpful approach in today's mental climate, when the global economy is still working its way back to normal, and wars and rumors of wars continue.
But a positive outlook can take anyone only so far. To tell people who have lost their homes that "it will all work out" might not be comforting. For those whose communities have been shattered by a natural disaster or by war, it could seem heartless.
Mary Baker Eddy's discovery of Christian Science provides spiritual backing to the desire to offer hope for those in trouble. She perceived that Jesus' proofs of God's care went far beyond struggling against the material evidence of injury, age, disease, to proving the truth of spiritual reality. In fact, Jesus' recognition of people's relation to Spirit was so clear that limitation and discord became irrelevant – truly unreal – before the allness of God. This resolved trouble and restored health.
For a widow whose son had just died, optimism must have seemed remote; the long-term consequences for her future were serious. But Jesus knew better than anyone else that things really would work out because God doesn't abandon His children. The master Christian took the widow beyond the promise that there would be a future solution – to the actual proof that all was well right then.
Luke's Gospel says that Jesus told her, "Weep not." And then he gave her reason to stop weeping. He commanded, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." Jesus' conviction that God could and would make this possible went far beyond optimism. He was fearlessly living the reality of God's power to bless humankind in any situation. Imagine what it must have been like to be in the crowd when "he that was dead sat up, and began to speak." This event had a profound impact on the people who saw it, and they acknowledged God's healing power (see Luke 7:11–16).
The spiritual truth that allowed Jesus to resolve that crisis is ours to practice in today's troubled world of sickness and violence, to the end that others will feel the power of the Christ to heal and save. In modern times, the Christ Science has enabled countless people to face down the dangers of war and financial instability, joblessness, and illness.
We do have reason to be more than optimistic in the face of today's challenges, at home and abroad, whenever we understand the truth that Jesus said would set us free – the law of God, revealing that at the heart of the universe, good doesn't just prevail but is the only reality; that health isn't an occasional span of freedom between illnesses, but rather the steady-state condition of Spirit and spiritual creation; and that harmony naturally governs relationships within the community of spiritual being. This body of divine rules, or Science, is here for all, at this moment and always.
Mary Baker Eddy fully articulated God's healing law in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." In addressing humanity's longing for physical healing, she explained, "It is well to be calm in sickness; to be hopeful is still better; but to understand that sickness is not real and that Truth can destroy its seeming reality, is best of all, for this understanding is the universal and perfect remedy" (pp. 393–394). This same approach applies to any human longing for good.
Through prayer, we have the ability to discern the totally good universe and totally good daughters and sons that God makes and maintains. We can discern the realities of health and harmony – which can't be seen clearly when viewing life through the lens of material existence. A changed perception of what's true about our Source, about the nature of identity, and about our world, inevitably changes outcomes for the better.
Our ability to practice God's law of healing isn't just an optimistic hope. It's a present reality – in our families, neighborhoods, and beyond.
Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel (Sept.15).