God-empowered hope

A Christian Science perspective.

The world today is beset by so many difficulties that at times conditions can seem hopeless. Among them are the intractable war in Afghanistan, nuclear threats from Iran, uncertainty about how or when the United States and other economies will revive, and natural disasters such as the floods in Pakistan, which have devastated a fifth of that nation. Personal issues may also seem beyond hope: illness, delayed healing, fear of aging and mental decline, loss of one’s home or income.

Human institutions are often helpful in fostering an improved outlook, but something deeper is needed if one is to achieve permanent, rock-solid hope. It is beautifully captured in words of Mary Baker Eddy: “Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 113)

This isn’t merely a comforting philosophical comment, as the Bible’s many examples of divine Love – God – in action bring out.

If you think about the forbidding walls of Jericho strictly from the standpoint of human logic, there was no reason why anyone should expect them to fall down flat after marching around them a total of 13 times and the subsequent blowing of trumpets. The Bible doesn’t tell us if the Israelites who featured in this experience grumbled about their assignment or doubted its value – as they seemed fond of doing. But they did obey the inspiration that came to their leader Joshua. And through their obedience to this divine direction, the walls came down (see Josh. 6:1-20).

There’s a message of hope for these times in this event. Today’s walls, whatever form they take, do come down. As the Psalmist put it, “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Ps. 42:11). It isn’t always easy to trust the inspiration that comes from hope, but it truly is the shortest distance between fear and renewed confidence, heartache and healing.

Hope involves refusal to accept conditions as they may seem – unchangeable, overwhelming. It is the conviction that right where the walls seem high and the darkness deep, right there is the provable presence of God, divine Principle, Love. Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery of Christian Science, which she sometimes called “divine metaphysics,” presents a divine law that can be learned, practiced, and relied on in the face of any condition. It is the law of demonstrable hope and spiritual fruition. It removes fear, provides strength, and heals hearts.

Under this law, the walls come tumbling down, removing the belief in materiality as real and defining, whether one is facing joblessness, declining health, fear for a loved one, or economic disaster. Hope in God turns thought toward the spiritual nature He has given each one of us, and insists that this is a provable reality. The growing conviction that God does respond to prayer, even if in ways we don’t expect, will open the way to answers. The need is to go forward with the understanding that under God’s care there are no walls to shut out progress and growth.

There are times, perhaps in the face of terminal disease or other deep trouble, when hope seems impossible. Mary Baker Eddy responded to those times in her healing work. Based on her own trust in Truth, she wrote: “Materia medica says, ‘I can do no more. I have done all that can be done.... There is no longer any reason for hope.’ Then metaphysics comes in, armed with the power of Spirit, not matter, takes up the case hopefully and builds on the stone that the builders have rejected, and is successful” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 5).

Jesus’ life provides the ultimate example, which supports more modest attainments and further progress in healing. The religious and political authorities certainly felt their work was done when they had him safely put away in the tomb, his side pierced by a spear (see John 19:34). A large stone and armed guards added to their assurance of victory.

Who would have expected that under such conditions Jesus could rise again and even burst open the tomb? But through his spiritual understanding and obedience to God, Christ Jesus did rise, and the women who came to anoint his dead body instead found the living Christ (see Matt. 28:9).

The walls of age, doubt, loneliness, and other negative conditions may say that Jesus was special and exceptional – and he was. But he promised that we would do the same works – and greater ones. This promise from the master Christian is for each of us. It can empower our hopes, even in the midst of despair. No matter who we are or where we are, we are designed to perceive this hope, which will not die, and which knows our Father and Mother to be right at hand. This is the hope that brings down walls, removes mountains, and heals the heart. It’s hope we can trust.

From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

For a German translation of this article, see The Herald of Christian Science.

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