Paying for college – 'Nearer to Thee'

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Despite even the best budgeting, paying for college often isn't easy. And now that it's harder to borrow money, some families are reconsidering whether they can afford to send their kids to college at all.

In his report about the plight of two college students from Pennsylvania, NPR reporter Claudio Sanchez commented on a "lingering uncertainty in the student loan market" because of the current credit crisis ("For Two Pa. Teens, Two Paths to College," Nov. 24). This broadcast indicated that higher education is a valuable step for any student and increases the possibility for job security. It also asked how one can face this period of economic uncertainty with confidence.

Feelings of anxiety are not a modern-day novelty. And throughout history, people have turned to hymns of comfort in times of need. A favorite of many is the classic hymn, "Nearer, my God to Thee" by Sarah F. Adams ("Christian Science Hymnal," No. 192). It reassures us,

E'en though it be a cross
That raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be,
Nearer, my God, to Thee …
Nearer to Thee.

Whatever crosses or trials we encounter as individuals, families, nations, and global communities, we ultimately have to turn to God to find healing or permanent solutions. Drawing closer to God reveals that although "cross" experiences are trying, they're actually gifts that move us to sacrifice a sense of ourselves as mortals having an existence separate from the Divine Mind, or God, and to draw closer to Him. Though the human mind may not comprehend how all life's details will play out, Mind knows that there's a solution for every need.

The refrain "Nearer to Thee" conveys that precious feeling of being close, even at one, with God. "I and my Father are one," Jesus said (John 10:30). With God's help, we have the courage to be strong even in the most demoralizing situation. As we follow God's lead, this spiritual conviction allows us to see that we have access to a broader potential as His child than material conditions might suggest.

Since our Father-Mother God loves us, we are sure to find solutions for even the most immediate needs in our lives when we surrender our will and feel that love. Beyond the realm of financial aid and grants, which have their limitations, students can see what is divinely possible.

A young Christian Scientist had many concerns during her senior year of high school. Both her parents were self-employed, so their income was not consistent from month to month. In a family of five, the girl worried whether they'd be able to pay for college.

She asked her Sunday School teacher how she could pray about this situation. He encouraged her to continue devoting herself unreservedly to good works, as Jesus did. "Don't worry about the money," he told her. He said she could trust that the finances would come as a result of the good things she was doing. She found further insight along these lines in this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science and who faced many cross-bearing moments in her life: "The good you do and embody gives you the only power obtainable" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 192).

The girl stopped being afraid of whether or not her test scores and GPA would help or hurt her need to obtain financial aid. Instead, she felt confident that God would care for her and her family as He always had.

She did attend college for four years, and her experience was rich with learning, friendship, and study abroad. Though she had loans to pay, there was no lapse in finances as she started a teaching career in which she could share with others this sense of fearless living.

Regardless of how dire your financial situation may feel, you can turn to God and see that you are not helpless. You can move from feelings of limitation and doubt to see the infinite good that God has earmarked for each of us. We are indeed moving "Nearer to Thee."

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