Today’s contributor has found that, in the face of difficult circumstances, looking to God – and not dwelling on the problem – makes a big difference in her life.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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The day was damp and gray as I walked along with my hands shoved in my pockets. I was, well, depressed, and my head was down. All I was aware of were my problems and the trash and dirt filling the gutters.

Suddenly, something inside me very clearly said, “Look up now.” I did, and right in front of me was a huge geranium plant filling the window of a home with neon orange flowers. It was breathtaking. My mood shifted and was considerably lighter. I was certainly glad I’d looked up. 

I learned a good spiritual lesson from this experience. While focusing on my problems pulled me down, looking up gave me inspiration. That dreary day, the inspiration came in the form of a show-stopping flower; but in a bigger sense, I learned that looking up can actually mean lifting our thoughts from the downward pull of negativity and instead looking to God, our ever-present source of all good, for inspiration, uplift, and healing. At this point in my life I started to grow more confident turning to the infinite source of good – God – and this was a turning point for me. Very quickly, I saw improvements in many areas. Some tangled relationships were resolved. I returned to college after dropping out for a year. And my whole outlook on things became much sunnier.

My study of Christian Science has helped me understand more of God’s omnipresence and power. This understanding has allowed me to trust that God’s goodness can be expressed and felt in our lives. If God is all-powerful, doesn’t it stand to reason that looking to Him in difficult times not only comforts but can bring healing? A line from a poem written by the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, has given me guidance and promise in my efforts to look up instead of down. It reads:

“And o’er earth’s troubled, angry sea
I see Christ walk,
And come to me, and tenderly,
Divinely talk.”
(“Poems,” p. 12)

To me this says that Christ, or the divine message from God to humanity, is always present to comfort, inspire, and heal us. The Christ voices the truth of God’s presence. Whatever darkness we seem to experience fades as we understand this message of our loving God. But to experience this enlightening, tender divine message, we have to look up, mentally speaking, and stop dwelling in negative, dark thinking. Otherwise we’ll only perceive “earth’s troubled, angry sea.”

Bearing witness in our prayers to the power of God and His Christ enables us to pierce, at least individually, the darkness of the trying circumstances we face. Such prayer not only brings uplift to our own thought but also shines forth the light of God to bless our fellow man. The Bible says, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5).

Even if the pervasive mood of our times is one of confusion, frustration, and even hopelessness, I’m convinced we can help ourselves and others by persistently “looking up” and fastening our gaze, in prayer, on the goodness and all-power of God. Because God is ever present, each of us can gain this understanding that good is actually present wherever we are. Then we’ll see that this recognition has healing effects.

Sometimes it’s hard to look up when our thoughts feel dragged down by difficult circumstances or negative news. But the promise is there. And it can effect change. Looking up to God is a great habit to cultivate.

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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.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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