Prayer, women, and a comeback

Women in the workforce have been particularly affected by the pandemic. But recognizing that God’s goodness and care for all His children can never run out inspires the resilience and strength to overcome – and help others overcome – challenges.

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According to reports, women have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. Some have had to leave the workforce – seriously impacting finances – in order to facilitate their kids’ education or care for loved ones. Others have continued to work from home, worn out from the added hours of these same caregiving responsibilities. For still others, their work just came to a halt because of their particular field.

The Monitor’s recent podcast series “Stronger” features six courageous women, looking at how they have dealt with various challenges throughout the pandemic. A spirit of bouncing back with resilience, love, and strength rings in their voices as they share their stories.

As I pray about these worldwide challenges, it’s been helpful to see these kinds of dynamic qualities as inherent in everyone – derived from God, who is infinite Spirit, and therefore always present and indestructible.

Although I can’t say the pandemic has impacted me to the extent that many other women have faced, I’m reminded of an experience I had some years ago when my income was not keeping up with expenses. My slim savings were slipping away with each mortgage payment. Fatigue and weight loss set in as I worked ten hours most days – sometimes seven days a week. My purpose felt clouded.

But I had experienced God’s care before. And through the years, my study and practice of Christian Science had heightened my conviction that God’s goodness is not only abundant, but constant; and that qualities such as strength, selflessness, and love are poured out infinitely from our divine Parent, Love itself. As divine Love’s children, all of us (women and men) express these spiritual qualities uniquely and without limits. They never dry up or run out. No one is left out in the cold or has more access to them than another.

There’s a story in the Bible that has always encouraged me. It’s about a woman who overcame dire straits (see II Kings 4:1-7). The woman’s husband had died, and she was in deep financial debt. On top of this, the creditor was threatening to take her sons into slavery if the debt wasn’t paid. I can only imagine how desperate she must have felt.

She turned to the prophet Elisha for help. He inquired what she had in her house. When the woman answered that there was nothing but a pot of oil, he told her to go to neighbors and gather as many containers as she could, and then pour the oil into them until no oil was left. Even though there was no obvious benefit to doing this, she trusted the spiritually inspired guidance of the prophet. And surprisingly, there was enough to fill every container. Then Elisha told her to sell the oil and pay her debts, and to live off of the remainder.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, dedicated her life to delving beyond the material surface of things to find the spiritual reality, including God’s constant supply of goodness. Her main book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” includes a glossary of spiritual meanings of biblical terms. It defines “oil” as “consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration” (p. 592).

These ideas and others helped ground my prayers about this situation. I realized that I too needed to better utilize these qualities that were already “in my house,” so to speak. In other words, to trustingly “pour” them into all my activities and encounters with others, and to truly see that these God-given qualities belong to everyone.

Over the ensuing months, I strove to more actively live qualities of love and generosity, and prayerfully listened for God’s guidance and inspiration. One step at a time, this led to work that fit my abilities and desire to serve God. A way worked out to pay my mortgage without draining my finances. The exhaustion disappeared, and my weight returned to normal. Best of all, I saw the substance and purpose of my life revived in my willingness to express the qualities God gave me, which can never be lost or overtaxed.

The spiritual reality is that all women (and men) are naturally blessed with the fullness of God’s goodness, which leaves no room for loss or deprivation as the final picture. This inspired view brings the reliability of God’s comfort and strength right into our lives. Then we can better see how to encourage and support women and others in truly tangible, healing ways.

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