One evening after returning home from an event, I felt anxious and unsettled about some conversations I’d had. I kept replaying them in my head and wondering whether I had represented myself in the way that I wanted to. On top of that, my throat was swelling in a way that was becoming alarming.
I have often found it helpful to pray during times of emotional and physical distress, so it was natural for me to reach out to God in prayer. As I did, a biblical statement came to mind: “I ... repent in dust and ashes.” I recognized this as a reference from the book of Job (42:6) that follows on from some chapters I’ve found especially inspiring. It comes right after God responds to Job, who is in a situation that dwarfed the experience I was going through – he has lost everything, is suffering from a serious disease, and even his wife is encouraging him to just give up.
Instead, Job is absorbed in questioning how such suffering can be legitimate when he knows he is innocent before God, and he persists in doing this despite friends who are unhelpfully arguing for a false sense of God.
Then, in Chapter 38, it’s as though God bursts onto the scene with an account of how He created the entire universe. It is awe-inspiring to consider the vastness and expansiveness of God presented in this and the following three chapters of the book of Job. So awe-inspiring, in fact, that Job is transformed by the reminder of what God is. It leads him to repent of his doubt, and he is restored to wholeness.
One might say that Job is repenting of thinking there is another cause or creator that’s truer than God. Christian Science explains that God, infinite good, is the only legitimate creator and has made everything in the image and likeness of the Divine: spiritual and good. So the real nature of creation, including each of us, is actually the effect of God – the spiritual expression of His love and goodness. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes, “God is at once the centre and circumference of being” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 203-204).
When we realize this to be the spiritual reality, we’re gaining a more God-oriented view. This change of perspective brings healing. It certainly changed everything for Job. At the end of the story comes the part that had first come to my thought: Job “repent[s] in dust and ashes.” Some scholars believe that the word “of” would be a more accurate translation than “in.” I appreciate this because it helps me see that we can repent of, or change our thinking from, believing that man is made of dust, is fundamentally material. Instead we can come to understand the spiritual view of man as spiritual, perfect, and whole.
This God-centered view inspired and healed me that very evening. The emotional turmoil ceased and the swelling went away.
It can be tempting to focus our attention on the whirlwinds of human life. But when the infinite nature of God, good, becomes paramount in our thinking – and we understand that God and His spiritual creation is truly the reality – this God’s-eye view leads to healing. What an amazing, beautiful view to look out from!