Three words that changed everything
Things seemed pretty hopeless when I walked into the Christian Science Reading Room that day. I was working at a retail store in a dead-end job that offered little hope for advancement.
I was grieving over the recent passing of a loved one. A close relationship had inexplicably ended. And it was two weeks before Christmas. To say that the joy of the holidays seemed very far away would be an understatement.
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The one light at the end of my tunnel was the fact that I worked one block away from the nearest Reading Room, and I often went there on my lunch hour to study the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and gain a bit of spiritual refreshment. I felt sorely in need of that refreshment now.
I sat down and opened up the Bible. I was not turning to the Bible randomly. I knew it contained the Word of God, and many times in my life I’d opened it in trying times, and good times as well, and found just what I needed to read at that particular moment.
The page opened to the book of Job! Oh great, I thought, the story of the man who lost everything, who suffered and was told to curse God and die. Then the thought came, “Look at what is written on the page.” Here is what I saw when I looked down: “If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him; if iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear: because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: and thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope” (Job 11:13–18).
There is hope. Those three words were like a lifeline for me. It seemed implausible, improbable, impossible. And yet I knew that was exactly what I needed to affirm right then and there. As is often the case, there was a choice to be made—“twixt the darkness and the light” as a dear old hymn puts it (James Russell Lowell, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 258). I knew from experience the transformative power of trusting God, of choosing the light, or yielding the heart and will to God’s grace.
So then and there, I took God at His word, humbly and gratefully. Yes, I thought, there is hope, because there is God. Right here, right now. Caring for me, caring for everyone. I felt a lightness and calm that had not been part of my thinking for many months.
Then I reasoned, Since there is hope, what am I worried about? My lunch hour was almost over, but I took the time to look up the word hope in a dictionary, and I found this definition: “a feeling of trust.” I’ve learned in Christian Science that the feeling of trust we most need is not in a person, or in any human circumstances, but in God, ever-present divine Love. This trust comes from knowing God, and understanding that God, good, alone is real and is the only power. Such trust in God leads us out of darkness into the light of Truth, and brings healing.
As I walked back to my job, the Christmas decorations seemed a tiny bit cheerier, the crowds a lot less jostling. The afternoon was unremarkable except that something had happened in my thinking. A sense of joy was returning, quietly but firmly. There were challenges in the following days and weeks, but above all was a hopefulness that never left me, that kept me going, step by step.
One year later I was living in a new city. I was working as a writer again, and was also beginning to get calls for help as a Christian Science practitioner. I was completely free of the grief that had gripped me, feeling the assurance of man’s inseparability from God, man’s everlasting Life. And four days after I took God at His word in the Reading Room, I met a man who became my best friend. Thirty years later he is still my best friend, and also my husband.
This was a turning point in my life that led me on a new path of spiritual growth. It taught me that our happiness truly comes from trusting God, no matter what the circumstances of our life may be at any given time. Yes, I was grateful one year later for all the good, and all the evidences of progress in my life. But I can honestly say that the joy began in the Reading Room when I read and accepted the spiritual fact that there is hope, that there is always hope. Because there is always God, divine Love, with us, with everyone.