‘What if’ or ‘what is’?

It can be tempting to get overwhelmed by fearful “what if” thinking. But getting to know God as entirely good replaces doubt and uncertainty with confidence, clarity, and healing.

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What would you give to remove uncertainty from your life? It can seem as though unhelpful “what ifs” run through our head on a daily basis, hampering our ability to make informed decisions or to be free from doubt and worry. “What if I don’t have enough money?” “What if I don’t get well?”

I have found that there’s an approach that enables us to replace “what if” statements with “what is.” It’s based on our relation to God, as taught in Christian Science. Instead of asking “What if bad things happen?” and getting overwhelmed by dire predictions, we can look to God for a spiritual picture of what life is, which brings happiness, harmony, and certainty.

The Bible, which contains the Word of God, Truth, puts it this way: “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:3-5).

That indicates a world not of matter, but of Spirit – God’s wholly spiritual universe. This universe includes each of us as God’s child, made in God’s image, subject only to divine goodness. Therefore we are, in reality, as spiritual and perfect as God. There is no chance or uncertainty in that picture!

Familiarizing ourselves with the profound spiritual facts of being enables us to overcome material uncertainty. As Christ Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Isn’t that a road map to freedom? Affirming “what is” based on divine Truth is transformative, replacing the discouragement and disappointment of “what if” thinking with health and harmony.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science (which is based on the Bible), writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” of the need to “unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God’s unerring direction and thus bring out harmony” (p. 424). As God’s children, we reflect the one divine Mind, whose infinite wisdom gives us the capacity for spiritual discernment and understanding, even perspicacity.

One time, in the week leading up to a special family reunion, crippling stomach pains led me to unhelpful “what if” thinking. What if I couldn’t go? What if I went and couldn’t participate in the activities? What if everyone else was worried about me? Such thinking keeps us trapped in darkness, and it haunted me – until I realized it could be abandoned for the light of Truth! A favorite hymn in the 1932 “Christian Science Hymnal” says in part:

God of Truth, eternal good,
Lift our hearts to revelation,
That Thou mayst be understood,
Thou, the Rock of our salvation;...
. . . . . . .
Open now our eyes to see,
As the clouds of sense are riven,
We behold reality,
Know the glory of Thy heaven;...
(Edith Gaddis Brewer, No. 85, © CSBD)

It was time to make a decision between getting pulled down the road of “what ifs” or accepting what is! As I turned my thoughts to God and prayed to know what is true about me, it became clear there could be no pain in the picture since God never made anything unlike Himself – who is entirely good. God knows us to be as spiritual and flawless as He is. That meant I was whole and free at that very moment...no ifs, ands, or buts! And we can know ourselves as God knows us, since we express the divine Mind.

I packed my bags and headed to the airport. I was so focused on my gratitude to God that I don’t remember when the pain disappeared. But I was so completely healed that I agreed to join my grandson on the scariest roller coaster in the amusement park we visited...in the front seat, no less! And the pain never returned.

When we get pulled into “What if bad things are going to happen to me?” thinking, we can instead seek the truth about God and ourselves as God’s children, that includes only the certainty of goodness.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.