Facing down fear

Illness, economic volatility, polarization and conflict, extreme weather events – reading the headlines, it can sometimes seem there’s little choice but to be afraid. But when we start from a spiritual basis, rather than judging what’s going on around us through the lens of materiality, we find that overcoming fear really is possible, opening the door to solutions and healing.

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When faced with what seemed like impossible odds – pursued by well-equipped Egyptian forces and with nowhere to go – Moses gave the children of Israel the following advice: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to-day” (Exodus 14:13). God’s power was then marvelously demonstrated in the parting of the Red Sea, and the children of Israel were delivered, walking across the seabed to where the Egyptian army couldn’t reach them.

During Moses’ day there clearly appeared to be a real cause for fear. The Egyptians were a formidable foe. How could he tell his followers not to fear?

Moses used his spiritual sense, which enabled him to trust in the power of God, divine Spirit. He saw and understood spiritual reality, which goes beyond a limited material perspective. And the spiritual reality is that even where a frightening situation seems to be, God, good, is supreme.

We, too, can refuse to let material sense shape our viewpoint. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes, “Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God” (p. 209). The more we know and understand God and God’s all-power, the less we will fear evil.

It requires discipline to cultivate and utilize our spiritual sense, rather than judging what we see through the lens of materiality. But when our thought starts from a spiritual basis, we find that facing down fear really is possible.

What does it mean to “stand still” in order to do this, as Moses instructed? Does it mean to do nothing? No. Stillness is an actively receptive state of thought. In such stillness, one is humbly ready to hear the voice of God, divine Truth itself. As Mrs. Eddy explains in another one of her books: “The best spiritual type of Christly method for uplifting human thought and imparting divine Truth, is stationary power, stillness, and strength; and when this spiritual ideal is made our own, it becomes the model for human action” (“Retrospection and Introspection,” p. 93).

When one is truly mentally still, receptive to divine Truth, one becomes more aware of God’s presence and power. One hears the Christ, which Science and Health describes as “the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (p. 332). Christ fills our thought with God’s loving messages, assures us of God’s presence, and is our salvation. Christ empowers us to rise above fear and discern solutions to problems. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, New King James Version).

We cannot outline how things may be resolved when faced with what seem like impossible odds in our lives. The children of Israel could not have imagined crossing the Red Sea on dry land. But we can fearlessly trust and discern, through spiritual sense, how the law of God is operating to bring salvation. God’s love for each of us is bigger than any human problem.

We can rejoice with these words of Isaiah: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (41:13). As we realize the presence of God, fear disappears, and through mental stillness we hear God’s healing, saving messages.

Adapted from an article published in the June 26, 2017, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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