My daughter was about to embark on her graduate school journey when everything changed. Because of the pandemic, she had to attend classes virtually instead of in person. Her excitement at having earned a place at a top university in her field turned into disappointment. I felt her sadness and knew she was one of many students facing this situation.
Stories from the Bible have proven to be helpful when I’ve prayed about disappointing situations. For example, before entering the Promised Land, the Hebrew nation wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Throughout that time, God was supplying the people with protection, provisions, and direction. But the journey was not without its challenges, and at those times the Hebrews complained that maybe life had been better in captivity under the Egyptians.
In the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy incisively pinpoints the flaw in the people’s thinking during this experience: “In national prosperity, miracles attended the successes of the Hebrews; but when they departed from the true idea, their demoralization began” (p. 133). The “true idea” refers to the understanding of the unalterable relation of God to His children: God as all-powerful, ever-present, all-knowing divine Truth and Love, and each of us as made in God’s spiritual image. This is a powerful antidote to disappointment.
While the disappointments we may face may be on a much smaller scale than the frustrations faced by the children of Israel, the lessons and inspiration to be gained from the accounts of their experiences can help us more fully grasp our oneness with God. A beautiful sentence in Science and Health provides a basis for this: “As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being” (p. 361). In this state of perfect unity, man – each one of us – reflects only God, and this is the true idea protecting us against anything unlike God, good, including dispirited mental states.
Christ Jesus healed multitudes on this basis. His understanding of the relation between God and each of us lifted the sick and the sinning out of a mindset of discouragement and resignation into inspiration, joy, and health. Science and Health describes Jesus’ prayers as “deep and conscientious protests of Truth, – of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love” (p. 12).
In proportion to our understanding of our unity with God, we too are empowered with the true idea of God. And with this true idea, we can heal as Jesus taught, and can lift ourselves and others out of mental funks.
It may seem as though it would take a huge effort to keep from dwelling on disappointment. But the moment we protest, as Jesus did, for our right and ability to see ourselves and others as God’s likeness, we set our feet on the path that enables us to see God’s goodness unfold in our lives and in the world around us. And this protest is a deliberate, energetic, and scientific acknowledgment of God’s infinite perfection and of our true identity as God’s perfect spiritual image.
Understanding that we are beloved children of God, divine Love, renews our hope and awakens us to Love’s unceasing care. Even where chaotic circumstances appear to be, God is ministering to our every need, providing a path out of feelings of defeat to evidence of victory through new possibilities. No matter what kinds of circumstances we encounter, there is an inspired answer.
My daughter started graduate school by taking classes from home. It gave us the opportunity to share uplifting thoughts about her precious, indestructible relation to God. At one point, she made a comment showing that her thought had moved beyond focusing on the human circumstances to feeling divine inspiration. She said, “Being a virtual student is an opportunity, not an obstruction to my education.” This was proven when she was asked to lead a virtual conference for teachers while remaining at home over 1,000 miles away.
God is continuously providing unlimited opportunities for good. When we remain close to God and acknowledge the true idea of our unity with the Divine, we experience this divine good and can leave disappointment behind.
Adapted from an article published in the June 21, 2021, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.