My husband and I were on a two-day business trip to the famous Panjiayuan market in Beijing to buy inventory for our Chinese antiques store. However, when we arrived at our hotel after navigating through a bustling crowd, I discovered that the funds we had brought for this purpose – several thousand dollars – had apparently been pickpocketed out of my closed purse.
I felt angry that the money had been stolen from me, but realized things would be even worse if we went home to New York empty-handed with nothing to sell, and at that time there was no way to transfer funds quickly from my bank account back home. Yet I needed to be able to start shopping at dawn the next day.
When faced with seemingly unsolvable situations, I have always found guidance, comfort, and courage by turning to the Bible. Calling on God to guide me has released me from the grip of panic and brought to light harmonious solutions.
Studying the Bible, along with the textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, has taught me about God and the close relation we all have to God as His beloved children. In fact, we are made in God’s image, the spiritual expression of God’s goodness and love, which are the true substance of our existence and can never be lost.
This real substance, God’s substance, is not money; it is spiritual: a universal and eternal supply of goodness, expressed throughout creation. With this realization I forgave the person who had taken the money, knowing they could never take away my real substance, which comes from God. And I found comfort in the idea that everyone, including that individual, has the innate ability to find this true sense of substance for themselves, too.
This silenced my fear. In Proverbs it says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (3:5, 6). As I prayed for divine wisdom to guide me, it came to me to go to the ATM in the hotel. I was well aware that I could do this, of course, but since our bank had a daily withdrawal limit that was only a fraction of the amount we needed, it hadn’t seemed like a viable solution to our pressing need.
But as I walked away from the machine after following up on this intuition and making the withdrawal, it came to me clearly to go back and try to make another withdrawal. To my surprise, I was able to, and not just once – several more times before it cut me off. I was overjoyed to have the funds I needed for the first shopping day, on which we found an abundance of good merchandise.
The next day, I was again able to withdraw more than expected. While the amount I was able to withdraw still totaled less than the amount that we had lost, I was grateful beyond words. It proved sufficient to purchase the inventory we needed.
But there was still the haunting thought, “This is great, but you have still lost several thousand dollars.” Inspired by my earlier prayers and what had transpired since, I felt a conviction that no one can take from any of us the goodness, joy, and supply that the Almighty God has given us. With that, the feeling of having been irreparably robbed of something left.
At that moment, I spotted a particular item that was a rare find, and I was able to get it for a reasonable price. I quickly called a customer back in the U.S. who collected these particular items and told him what I had found. Usually he took months to consider prospective purchases. But in this case he immediately said, “I’ll take it” – and his offer was for the same amount that had been taken from my purse.
It felt clear to me that this was no coincidence, but evidence of the restorative power of spiritual understanding indicated in a promise God makes to us all: “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…. And ye shall … be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you” (Joel 2:25, 26).