From adversity to opportunity

A Christian Science perspective: Are there opportunities for good in the face of adversity?

The ducks are back! They love to swim in our cove, but when the lake froze this winter, they disappeared.

Not native to the area, I asked my neighbor, “Where do they go in the winter?”

“They go to the open water in the ocean,” he said, “but as soon as there’s even a little thawing around the edges in the spring, they will be back.”

And so I learned. With the slightest opening for optimal lake-living they were here.

It made me question my own way of living: Do I see my own opportunities for good in the face of adversity as naturally as ducks do? Do I adapt as readily if circumstances change and there’s a need to look more widely for opportunities? Am I really grateful for the tiniest openings for progress even if they don’t at first seem optimal or fully developed?

As I’ve thought about a more spiritual view of progress, I’ve considered Christ Jesus’ teachings. He repeatedly told his followers “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (e.g., Matthew 3:2). He also counseled them, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). And according to Bible accounts, he proved that right where frozen resources, devastation, and loss look devastating, he could see God’s presence and goodness. This spiritual seeing restored life, health, and peace, which pointed out a deep truth that healing is a natural revealing of the all power of God.

Jesus told people that they, too, could do the kind of works he did if they really understood God’s power and love. His example showed us that the opportunity always before us is to let go of a limited physical sense of what’s possible and gravitate to the viewpoint of God, the great I AM (see Exodus 3:14). The personal ego measures and limits its circumstances and possibilities for good. But God sees everything He has made and all of it is “very good” (Genesis 1:31) – with unlimited possibilities.

A number of years ago I was able to see something of this changed perspective when my husband passed on. I had two preschool-age children to provide for, and I felt very alone and frozen by fear.

Then one day as I prayed to feel more of God’s ever-presence, I remembered a quote from the writings of Christian Science Discoverer Mary Baker Eddy about the kingdom of heaven: “Heaven’s signet is Love. We need it to stamp our religions and to spiritualize thought, motive, and endeavor. Tireless Being, patient of man’s procrastination, affords him fresh opportunities every hour ...” (“Christian Healing,” p. 19).

What struck me was that God is Love, and I shouldn’t wait to accept Love’s ability to care for me and my children. I had been clinging to a “happily ever after” fairy tale of life, and I had been procrastinating about adopting this spiritual view, which I knew provided permanent security and peace.

My motivations completely shifted. I began yearning to live more spiritually and to commit every activity to glorifying God. Immediately, opportunities opened up for me to earn income while staying at home, including a long-cherished career helping others, which provided an abundant flow of blessings for our family.

Every hour the goodness of God’s ever-presence is surrounding us. We can look up mentally and see the opportunity for spiritual growth that is right where adversity appears to be. We can lose a limited sense, and find so many new manifestations of good unfold in our experience.

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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.”

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