Out of helplessness into hope

Getting to know God as our always present divine Parent – and ourselves as God’s valued, cared for children – lifts us out of despair and lights the path to joy, healing, and solutions.

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For some people, the overarching impression day to day – despite points of genuine happiness and good in their lives – may be one of somberness and burden, even bleakness or depression, about life, about the world in general. Things persistently don’t feel right or seem to make sense.

Through much of college and into my 20s, I struggled with such persistent feelings of sadness and, at times, hopelessness. While I didn’t seriously contemplate suicide, I often didn’t see a reason for going on. I wanted out but didn’t see how.

Then one day a simple thought came: Ask God. Specifically, I felt led to read “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy and to take my deepest concerns to the book. Because I’d grown up in Christian Science, I was familiar with its Bible-based textbook and knew that it makes very strong claims about God’s goodness and reality as well as the healing power of spiritual Truth. So I put it to the test, determined to find answers to my unhappiness.

I soon became absorbed in what I was reading, challenging it over and over for answers – and hope. As the days passed, glimmers of light began to come. Then one morning I woke up humming a hymn. I even felt a little happy, as if I could breathe again.

I started to get it: This was God and God-given hope – peace coming from a Father-Mother who is loving and intelligent and at hand. Divine Love was compelling me to look upward and outward: to Him, not self, and to others, not just me. I knew I was being fundamentally changed – awakened, really – and was beginning to get a new sense of myself in the process.

I kept studying, and the depression lifted. And it has never come back. Yes, there are hard things to face at times, but now the light and steady hope and even joy – not darkness – are the constants.

My story isn’t unique. I’ve found many darkness-to-light narratives in the Bible. They all illustrate a sort of two-fold proposition: It’s about God knowing us, and us, in turn, getting to know God.

We read of Joseph, who was a teen when he was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, and later unjustly imprisoned. But Joseph found that God was an ever-present help and trusted that He had an indelible purpose for him. This repeatedly led to safety and progress. At the age of 30, he became a national leader and saved his adoptive country from famine.

And there’s Ruth, a 20-something who’d already lost her husband when she left everything to accompany her widowed mother-in-law on a long and arduous journey back to her homeland – a foreign country to Ruth. There, without resources, she could have lapsed into despair. Instead, what she’d come to know of God’s constant care opened a new life for her – and gave her a key role in human history as the great-grandmother of David.

Through turning to God, a door of hope opened for Joseph and for Ruth. They knew God as a rock on which to rest. And the fears and oppressions, the defeat and isolation, faded as each caught a glimpse of their true nature, spiritual and whole, and saw that they were able and incredibly loved and had an unmistakable purpose.

God as Life knows us as vibrant, peaceful, and joyous. As Mind, the Father causes us to be wise, resourceful, and thoughtful. Even as we face problems that may make us feel hopeless, knowing our true, spiritual identity and realizing that we are cherished and known by God in this most precious of ways is what allows us to go forward, gives us hope, and brings healing, often before we see a complete answer. It gives us the assurance that there is an answer.

Christ Jesus’ teachings bring to light that each individual of every period, regardless of demographic, is forever a son or daughter of God – permanently Christlike because God-made, and indispensable. And he proved through his healings that no one is a hopeless mortal, doomed to live in despair, fear, or confusion. Knowing as God knows, Jesus brought to light each individual’s inherent freedom and worth. And the healing Christ, the truth of God Jesus embodied, does the same today.

We all, every one of us, always have a reason to hope, and getting to know God is the key – really knowing, as so many people across centuries have found, the God who knows you.

Adapted from an editorial published in the Oct. 10, 2022, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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