In the United States, a significant percentage of young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are described as “disconnected” from work or school and predicted to be at greater risk of long-term unemployment and poverty. Family and economic challenges, as well as negative influences from peers and drugs, are cited as reasons for these circumstances.
Having ministered to people in this age group as a US Navy chaplain, and having acted as a counselor to those looking for life direction, makes these reports more than statistics to me. My work has shown me that something more than just making the best of circumstances is required for rising above these challenges.
With respect to my own early years, what brought me hope, direction, and security were the spiritual lessons I was learning from the Bible when I attended a Christian Science Sunday School in my early years. These lessons enabled me to stay connected in my family life, in school, and in finding jobs. Some of the most valuable points made were that God is our true Parent and we are each God’s image and likeness, His spiritual offspring (see Genesis 1:26, 27 and Acts 17:28). Having God, good, as our Parent means that we can be guided by a conviction of unlimited good, no matter what one’s family circumstances may be. Since we have our being in God, we can never be separated from Him and His abundant provisions. Learning that “God is love” (I John 4:16) helped me understand that God always cares for His children and could never leave them lacking. This is seen more clearly as God is more at the center of our lives.
Putting God first in our life is something Christ Jesus described in one of his central teachings, called the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5-7). He pointed out how God cares for birds, as well as for lilies and the grass of the field, and how we can also be confident that He will meet our needs as we make seeking His kingdom our first concern. I learned that putting God first meant making it a priority to follow Christ Jesus’ teachings – to express the goodness and righteousness of God through qualities such as justice, mercy, kindness, sincerity, honesty, integrity, and unselfishness. In working to better express these qualities in my daily life, I found that I needed to put a sense of stubborn willfulness aside, which would distract me from praying, studying religious writings, and attending Sunday School and Wednesday evening testimony meetings at branch Churches of Christ, Scientist. Making time for these helped me see that Christian Science is about more than just theological concepts. It’s a way of life that results in healing.
During these early years, I received dedicated, prayerful support from my family and others praying for me and I strove to put God first in thought and prayer. Doing these things allowed the financial supply and employment to be found, which enabled expenses to be covered. In some cases, the supply would come from unexpected sources. Other times, I was led to jobs I hadn’t expected to find. These experiences and others were evidence of something Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote: “Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 307).
For those who haven’t had this kind of spiritual support from family, friends, or church, it’s not too late. Our prayers to acknowledge God’s ever-present love for everyone as His spiritual offspring help us listen for ways we can help others find a brighter future. And knowing in prayer that no one is ever separated from God, but that all are forever complete and provided for, can break low expectations. It can overturn statistics and negative predictions, allow healing to take place, and prove God’s love for all.