Have you ever felt that you were owed some kind of a payback after a bad situation?
At one time I had a successful business, but an economic downturn and some poor management decisions by others forced me to close the doors. In trying to save the company, I had invested all my assets, so my future looked pretty bleak. An employment opportunity eventually came that met my needs. But for many years I carried around a resentful feeling that I was “owed” something, as I felt that much had been taken from me.
I have found that praying deeply each day with the weekly Bible Lesson published by The Christian Science Publishing Society, which also publishes this newspaper, helps me see more of God’s goodness. One day during this study a Bible verse leapt off the page at me. The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor can anything be taken from it” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
I thought, “Is my life part of God’s work or not?” Christian Science teaches that God is Life itself. I understood that His work, or creation, is spiritual, complete, and lasting; it cannot have any good taken from it.
If, by contrast, I looked to material things to assuage the lingering hurt, I realized that I would be disappointed. Permanent freedom can’t be found there, because material things are always changeable and vulnerable, as the Bible points out (see Matthew 6:19-21). But it seemed that I had lost so much! Nevertheless, I did not want to carry this hurt feeling around with me any longer. I recognized a deep need to change my way of thinking.
The seminal work “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy, brings out how life can only be truly understood from a spiritual standpoint, in which we realize that we are each an expression of God, His beloved child. Talking of this divine sonship and daughterhood, Science and Health says: “In divine Science, man is sustained by God, the divine Principle of being” (p. 530). Reading that, I could see that God’s tender love and care includes a complete and satisfying plan for each of us that isn’t subject to the inconsistencies of material economics. God’s work is eternal.
Science and Health also offers many ways to be aware of, and to counter, the material sense of things that constantly seems to be vying for our attention. One way that has been helpful to me is to consider six aspects that relate to the spiritual sense inherent in everyone. Science and Health says, “Spiritual sense, contradicting the material senses, involves intuition, hope, faith, understanding, fruition, reality” (p. 298).
As I prayerfully considered this, I felt something real about each of these words that made the concept of spiritual sense as a whole more meaningful to me. I saw that each of us really is capable of perceiving the true sense of God and our relation to Him.
Considering intuition helped me see that even if it seems we’re lacking something, our security and supply are still maintained – based on the abundance God has for all at every moment, supplying our needs. The idea of hope led me to look forward with trust in the unfoldment of God’s goodness. Thinking about faith encouraged confidence in the idea that God, good, loves and cares for us; therefore good cannot be incomplete or taken away.
Being grateful for understanding led me to discern the good that God had always been providing. It was like a light was shining on all the ways God had been lovingly caring for me over the years. I became humbly appreciative.
Fruition, I could see, was the realization of my prayers. Over the weeks devoted to this study, I became completely free of the hurt and the restrictive feeling that I was “owed” anything. And in terms of the last aspect of spiritual sense included in that quote, I felt I was seeing evidence of the reality of God’s care for me and everyone. I knew in my heart that there is never a fluctuation in His love.
This was a great opportunity for spiritual growth for me. Not only did I no longer have that feeling hanging over me that I was owed anything, but I felt completely fulfilled and free of resentment.
God’s work is always complete, and we are all included in that completeness. This is a strong foundation for prayer that lifts us out of bitterness or distress, enabling us to move forward with inspiration and peace.