Life is more than a game of chance

It can too often seem that good is limited and some people gain while others inevitably lose. But humbly turning to God for answers enables us to experience God’s limitless goodness in very tangible ways.

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Suppose you were driving home over a snowy mountain pass on New Year’s Day and suddenly heard a loud dragging sound that told you something wasn’t right with your car. And you knew that would mean an hours-long wait for roadside assistance at the base of the mountain. What do you think the chances would be that, despite the cold temperatures, a group of young men with the skills to not only assess the problem, but also to fix it, would be chatting outside a corner shop right where you pulled over?

That’s what happened to my daughter and me at the beginning of this year. The young men crawled under our car to investigate, fetched their tools, and in short order had fixed the part that had come loose on our car.

My daughter and I expressed gratitude all the way home, not just because the men had been so helpful and even refused the money we’d offered them for their assistance, but because to us the situation didn’t feel like random chance at all. First, because we had begun praying as soon as we became aware of the problem with the car. And second, because it was not unlike many other times I’ve required aid, prayed, and received help right when I needed it.

By prayer I don’t mean asking God for special favors, but understanding and proving the practicality of knowing God’s goodness in a way that is equally available for all. To me, it’s life without prayer that can sometimes seem like a set of random events in which good is limited and some people gain while others inevitably lose. An “aha” moment for me was when I was in grade school. We used to play bingo on rainy days, and I never won. That began my questioning of whether we’re all worthy recipients of good – even if taking the prize only meant a trip to the teacher’s candy jar!

But this view didn’t add up with how I was learning to think about life from a spiritual perspective. I was a student at the local Christian Science Sunday School, where I could ask questions on these kinds of issues and find satisfying answers rooted in the Bible. There I was learning about a God that loves everyone equally and infinitely and provides for us abundantly. In fact, God expresses limitless goodness in His children at all times. And we can actually experience in very tangible ways the consistency of this God who is wholly good.

There are a number of stories in the Bible that illustrate how this holds true even when the stakes are high. One is the story of Hagar, a mother who is sent with her young son into the wilderness with only a meager amount of bread and water. Hagar’s provisions quickly run out, and tragedy looms. She cries out to God, “Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept” (Genesis 21:16).

But the story continues, “And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink” (verse 19). Both survived.

As I’ve considered this story of finding water in the wilderness as well as examples of God’s care in my own life, it’s hard not to see a divine law of good that is universal and available to all. It has nothing to do with luck or relying on chance for supply, but rather a deep conviction that God supplies answers for all of our needs. That’s not to say things are always easy, but answers do come when we’re humbly open to God’s guidance.

There’s a part of a hymn in the “Christian Science Hymnal” I find most reassuring. It gives me the calm, clear confidence that God, or divine Love, cares equally and efficiently for us all and that His “angels,” or inspiration, always answer our prayers. It says: “He knows the angels that you need,/ And sends them to your side,/ To comfort, guard and guide” (Violet Hay, No. 9).

Each of us can claim the good that is our divine right today. When we reach out to God for aid, conforming our view of things to what God, good, knows and is showing us, the result is that we see more evidence of God’s overflowing wellspring of good right in front of us. Not because of chance, but because we’re all winners in God’s eyes, and divine good never runs out.

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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.”

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