Everything OK in the end?

A Christian Science perspective.

Recently my wife and I saw “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a movie about a group of British retirees who decide to try retirement in less expensive and exotic India. As one review put it, “Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.”

One of the themes repeated throughout the movie by the extremely enthusiastic main character Sonny is that “everything will be OK in the end, and if it is not OK, then it is not yet the end.” This humorous comment has a more profound aspect as it turns our attention from a limited human view of day-to-day events and missteps to a wider, more expansive vision. Discouragement too often sets in when, in the midst of a larger adventure, unexpected challenges present themselves.

Those with optimistic five-year business plans, for example, know only too well of the many unforeseen pitfalls along the way. Or consider the idyllic vacations that start out with a delayed or canceled flight. Anyone can name similar examples of progress on great plans being interrupted in relationships, in physical health goals, or in construction projects. And on a grander scale, our ideal of a righteous government and a productive economy can be dashed in the face of unforeseen upheavals in world events.

We can become discouraged and reduce ourselves to adversarial battling. However, every one of these examples is, in fact, a work in progress – a vehicle, in a sense – in which life’s lessons are presented to us to solve. Spiritually devout persons of all faiths recognize immediately the importance of turning to God in prayer for deep and inspired answers.

In the Bible, the prophet Jeremiah felt such spiritual guidance when he heard this affirmation: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). Christian Science sheds light on this concept. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, once wrote of her journey: “The discoverer of Christian Science finds the path less difficult when she has the high goal always before her thoughts, than when she counts her footsteps in endeavoring to reach it. When the destination is desirable, expectation speeds our progress. The struggle for Truth makes one strong instead of weak, resting instead of wearying one” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 426).

The “expected end” she refers to is a spiritual principle we can hold to as a guide in our day-to-day events. For example, once in the middle of a particularly difficult business negotiation, recognizing that I was trying to force my position, I humbly asked my Father, God, to show me what to say. My receptivity resulted in an inspired new thought that unselfishly blessed both sides. The beneficial result was immediate and evidenced not only by a change in my approach but by the reaction of the one on the other side of the desk.

Recently, while waiting for a flight, which had been delayed, instead of my normal disappointment and frustration, I was able to quietly turn in prayer for fresh and timely inspiration. Having just read the Bible Lesson that Christian Scientists study throughout the week, I was able to have a thoughtful understanding of the situation rather than an angry knee-jerk reaction. This study gave me a calm sense of spiritual order. Within minutes, I received a phone call that resulted in a significant and time-sensitive business opportunity that would have been lost had the plane been on time. Without prayer, a problem might obstruct our joy or progress. But approaching a problem through prayer can bring a grand opportunity to prove God’s ever-presence and dominion in every situation, be it large or small.

As we intuitively listen for inspired spiritual solutions rather than willful course corrections, the expected end becomes our bright light that brings all things into spiritual perspective. Bringing inspiration to our daily events is prayer and involves a humble willingness to listen to and to do what God is communicating to us.

Mrs. Eddy summed it up this way: “We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives” (Science and Health, p. 248). She then offered a list of the qualities that enable us to do just that. They include unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness and love. She defined the genuine expression of these qualities as the kingdom of heaven, which we can allow to occupy our lives. This brings harmony and fulfillment – an expected end.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.