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Facing up to the “top 5” stresses in life

From the Christian Science Sentinel - April 6, 2010

Originally appeared on

When I was young, my siblings and I sometimes played a game building a tower out of a pack of playing cards. Very carefully, we would keep adding the cards to the stack one by one, until we’d place one card too many and the whole pile would come tumbling down!

At times life may feel equally precarious, as one challenge too many threatens to plunge us into despair. Is it possible to withstand disruptions, and not to experience the stress and strain associated with disturbance and turmoil?

A clue may be found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in the parable of the two men who built houses on very different foundations. One man built his house on rock, but the other built his on sand. When turbulent weather came and storms battered the two houses, the house built on sand collapsed while the house with rock-solid foundations remained intact (Matt. 7:24-27).

God, divine Truth, is a firm rock on which we can place reliance. Whether we are overwhelmed by fear, emotion, or disasters, we can stay firmly rooted in immoveable Truth, certain in our understanding that God, good, is ever present and holding each one safe and secure.

I had an opportunity to prove this for myself about a year ago when I found my whole life turned upside down in a very short space of time.

A relative kindly pointed out to me that the top five causes of stress are said to be financial worries, relationship breakdowns, moving, the death of a relative, and loneliness—and I was facing all of them at the same time!

My mother had passed on. We had been very close, and I missed her enormously. Shortly afterward, my best friend passed on. Then my sister and her husband moved away from England to live in France, my brother bought a house in the US, and on top of all this, my husband moved out! This was just one card too many, and the events pushed me into a deep depression. We’d been a close family, and suddenly I felt very alone. With only one income I decided to ease the financial responsibilities by selling my house and downsizing.

As a student of Christian Science I have always turned to God in prayer in times of difficulty. But though prayer had never failed me before, this time I seemed unable to loose myself from feelings of sorrow and loss. These feelings clung to me for weeks.

I remember sitting on the sofa in floods of tears one evening. My house had sold very quickly, and I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I didn’t seem to have sufficient financial resources, and my situation felt pretty bleak.

I reached out to the God whom I had trusted all my life, asking for direction, and in the midst of my sadness I heard these words, as distinctly as if they were being spoken to me. I recognized them as part of Hymn 76 in the Christian Science Hymnal:

Hear His voice above the tempest:
I have not forsaken thee;
In My hand thy name is graven,
I will save both thine and thee.

Immediately I felt a loosening of the fear that had been paralysing me. It was as if Love’s angels were surrounding me, promising me that all was well. I felt a quiet calm wash over me, and an inner peace replacing the sense of stress and strain. I felt reassured.

The following day I felt directed to go look at a house that had just come on the market that morning. I immediately fell in love with it. The owners were selling it very cheaply as they had already bought another property and just wanted it off their hands. It was a wonderful proof of God’s promise of His uninterrupted goodness and love.

In the weeks that followed, I continued to focus on God’s love and my spiritual wholeness as His expression. During this time, my husband and I began to value each other much more, harmony was restored in our relationship, and he came back to live with me. The sense of loneliness passed as I made new friends and found fresh opportunities to expand my sense of family.

It’s so encouraging, when I am faced with challenges and may feel distanced from God, to know that divine Truth, Life, and Love is still ever present. Truth is still supporting and protecting me, Love is still able to penetrate the deepest sorrow and remove it, and Life is eternally expressed — God never loses sight of His ideas.

Life is not a pack of cards. Life is deeply rooted and solidly established on a spiritual foundation.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “Life is, always has been, and ever will be, independent of matter; for Life is God, and man is the idea of God, not formed materially but spiritually, and not subject to decay and dust” (p. 200). Since God is Life then Life cannot crumble or fall apart, because Life is everlasting and eternal. Because God is Love, nothing can separate us from this Love, nor sever the indissoluble relationship between God and man. 

We may face many storms in life, but the understanding that God is in complete control of His universe allows us pass through these trials spiritually strengthened. I’m grateful for this experience, which taught me that we do live in a world of continuous good, and that our universal Father-Mother God is taking care of each and every one of us.

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