Every Jan. 1, people talk of making New Year’s resolutions, some of which, by now, may already have been broken or discarded. Recently, I was reminded of another kind of resolution, involving the settlement or solving of a problem. Doesn’t everyone deserve a year that includes the solution to some outstanding issue(s)?
When I am looking for the answer to a problem, whether it be one of health, career, relationships, or finances, this biblical promise brings me comfort: “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).
This “expected end” is one that is good. The first chapter of Genesis states, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (verse 31). God has already created good for each of us, His beloved spiritual image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27). As I have seen in my own experience, we can prayerfully apply and see evidence of this spiritual fact in our individual lives and the world today. For instance, when I left what would be labeled a toxic relationship, through prayer I gained spiritual insights that enabled me to overcome many obstacles, fears, and doubts; there was clear evidence that God was guiding me through this wilderness time. His promise of peace was fulfilled in wonderful ways.
In the children of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, God led them “through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea” (Exodus 13:18), not the nearest or most familiar route. At times, the Israelites were tempted to give up. In fact, early on, despite the persecution they’d faced in Egypt, they missed the vessels of food they’d had there and cried: “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:3).
When things aren’t going the way we have outlined, how many of us might be eager to return to our own fleshpots – to just go back to the way things were, even if they were wrong – rather than trust in “an expected end,” God’s promise of good for us?
Though we may want to outline just how a problem is to be solved, the eternal good and loving provision God has for each of us does not depend on human will or circumstance. Recognizing this truth about our relationship to our all-loving, divine Parent replaces fear or mere hope with a deeper understanding and trust in His goodness. This enables us to become receptive to resolutions that include goodness, peace, and blessings we may never have imagined.
When God was leading the Israelites out of Egypt, He “went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light ... He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (Exodus 13:21, 22). Just as the Israelites witnessed evidence of God’s guidance, we, too, can expect to hear God’s direction as we prayerfully listen with receptivity to spiritual truth. As Mary Baker Eddy wrote in the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “As the children of Israel were guided triumphantly through the Red Sea, the dark ebbing and flowing tides of human fear, – as they were led through the wilderness, walking wearily through the great desert of human hopes, and anticipating the promised joy, – so shall the spiritual idea guide all right desires in their passage from sense to Soul, from a material sense of existence to the spiritual, up to the glory prepared for them who love God” (p. 566).
Events may not always go the way we think they should, either in our own lives or in the world arena. There may be twists and turns along the way. But if we are tempted to return to the fleshpots of the past, we can turn to, rest in, and trust God’s promise of “peace, and not of evil.” This promise can’t be broken. The kind of resolution we can experience when we listen for God’s guidance – even if it is quite different from what we had planned – is worth striving for.