Finding promise for the future

Today’s column explores how the idea that God is supreme – now and always – helps calm fears about the future.

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Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I’ve awakened in a sheer panic. Often the fear is specific; at other times, just a general foreboding that bad things are going to happen. Or it might relate to something I heard on the news. But here’s the common thread: fear of the future. Is there any way we can feel secure about what lies ahead in our lives – for ourselves and for the world?

Something that helps me is a growing understanding that I can depend on God’s loving presence, no matter what the situation. Through my study of Christian Science, I’ve begun to see that God’s hand is at the helm. During fearful moments, one thing that’s been especially helpful is a statement made by the discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, in one of her poems. She wrote, “O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour” (“Poems,” p. 4).

What a promise for the future lies in that statement! Instead of fearing the worst, we can begin to trust that Life, another name for God, is not only present now, but actually always has been, and it “owns” our future. One definition of “own” is to recognize as having full claim, power, authority, and dominion over something.

What can we expect from this divine Life? The Bible is a great source of inspiration in answering this question. One helpful passage reads, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). To see ourselves as safe and cared for by the divine All-power now and always helps calm fear that would keep us from making progress.

This isn’t just an abstract concept. In my own moments of fear, “what ifs” and “oh nos” try to dominate my thinking, but when they do, I’ve found that it’s possible to shut off that chatter. Not through burying our heads in the sand or ignoring potential problems, but through allowing God to be heard by opening our thoughts to God’s presence, listening for God’s healing messages, which relieve fear.

Answers and reassurances then come to thought, often with an encompassing sense of God’s goodness. Sometimes an inspiring word or familiar phrase comes to mind that lifts us above the turmoil, bringing a distinct shift in thought, from fear to a clear sense of expectancy that everything will be all right.

This release from fear of the future doesn’t always happen quickly. Sometimes it takes persistence and a commitment to sticking with what God is conveying, even if it feels difficult to fathom at first. But I’ve found it’s always worth the effort, because it brings about peace and hope – not only regarding our individual lives, but also about the future of our world at large. This doesn’t mean that we don’t still face challenges. But accepting that divine Life really does own each moment gives us confidence that takes away our fears.

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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.

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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.

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