One New Delhi morning some years ago, before there was much traffic, I went for a run. I thought I’d go 5 kilometers (3 miles) and then, to avoid getting lost, return along the same route.
But wild dogs thwarted my plan. Rulers of the side streets at 6 a.m., they recognized me as a visitor right away. At one point, several were chasing me, barking and rallying their canine friends. No problem going past them the first time – I simply ran faster. But on the return I had to choose between the dogs or maybe getting lost coming back another way.
As I prayed for help in deciding which way to go – something I’ve frequently found helpful in times of need – I drew level with a street person (one of millions in India) walking in the same direction. I slowed to his pace and explained that for the next while, I would just walk beside him because of my earlier encounter with the dogs. He spoke no English and I, no Hindi. I don’t think he had any idea why I desired his company. But he graciously accompanied me past the dogs, who this time didn’t show the slightest interest. After those few blocks, I thanked my host and resumed my run. My spontaneous street companion had treated me generously, and it didn’t cost him a rupee.
Is it too idealistic to think that everyone on the planet, like my Indian friend, is rich enough to have something to give – rich enough to serve others? Is it inevitable that those on our street, as well as those in our world, be taken for a roller-coaster ride by the world economy in general? In the first chapter of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” author Mary Baker Eddy writes: “If we turn away from the poor, we are not ready to receive the reward of Him who blesses the poor” (p. 8).
But does God really bless the poor? Every Bible translation among many I’ve checked confirms these words of Christ Jesus: “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20).
The kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor – and to everyone – because God, infinite Love, constantly pours out blessings on all His beloved children. God is ceaselessly communicating the specific, practical, spiritual ideas that each of us needs to express His intelligence, love, and goodness. In this way, the unemployed father of four in Kansas City, the mother in Kinshasa struggling to pay school fees for her two sons, the young family in a suburb of Buenos Aires looking to buy a home – to all of these people, God is sending the exact ideas needed to progress in serving others and seeing their own needs met.
The great necessity, then, is to be spiritually awake to these ideas and put them into practice. One example of this is Joseph in the Bible. He had nothing, and in fact had been unjustly imprisoned in a foreign country. Yet he had the spiritual insight and capacity to save all of Egypt and people from surrounding countries – including his own estranged family – from famine (see Genesis 37‑45), and the opportunity came to him to do so. This spiritually resourceful man wasn’t just waiting to see what the economy might bring.
Sometimes we may think of ourselves as passive recipients of whatever the global economic situation is serving up at the moment. But understanding that God has blessings for each of us contributes calm and a sense of well-being to the economic outlook for our families, countries, and world. I’ve experienced this in my own life. For instance, at one point my wife and I could see that in the next few months we would have many expenses, and it was not clear from where the money would come. Through dedicated prayer to understand, and therefore accept, that God meets all the needs of His children, and that we are all His children, each of those needs was met perfectly within a few months.
We can help the global economy by seeing that the whole universal enterprise is to recognize God’s holiness and the preciousness of each of us as His image and likeness. On that basis, we can refuse to think of ourselves, or anyone, as mere consumers in a matter-based economy that would allow ups, downs, scarcity, oppression, and inequalities. As we have the selfless purpose to give to the economy, rather than simply get from it, we can make better decisions about our own family’s finances, and better support economic decisionmaking on the macro level, too. In this way we realize individually and collectively this Bible promise: “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Adapted from an article in the Sept. 13, 2010, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.