The Bible is full of stories of people overcoming life-threatening situations by unreservedly trusting God. In one of these stories, the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be cast into a burning, fiery furnace because they refused to fall down and worship a large image of gold. These three men remained steadfast in worshiping only the one God (see Daniel 3:1–30).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound when they were thrown into the furnace. However, the king was astonished to see them walking in the midst of the fire, unbound, and completely unharmed. The king commanded that they come out of the fire, and acknowledged God’s power to save those who trust Him, and he “promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon” (Daniel 3:30).
Though people may not be literally thrown into furnaces today, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we may face distressing circumstances, which nowadays may be presented as incurable diseases, accidents, wars, and poverty. We may feel hopeless, as if our hands are tied and we’re unable to see the solutions to these problems. But, to me, this Bible story shows that, regardless of how severe a situation may appear, through prayer and trust in God we can unbind our thought from anything that tries to harm or limit us and expect good to unfold continuously in our lives.
I was able to witness proof of this 15 years ago at a time when I faced serious financial challenges. I was a high school teacher, and my monthly salary was not enough to fulfill my basic food and housing needs. What I earned was enough to sustain me for only ten days. Many times my meal of the day consisted of a slice of bread with sugar water that I ate before going to work. I lived in an unstable one-bedroom shack. I had to set up my mattress and books in a corner because when it rained water would come into most of the house.
During this time, I had just started to study Christian Science and diligently read the Portuguese edition of The Herald of Christian Science, the Bible, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. With this study, despite looking physically weak, I felt spiritually very strong, happy, loving, and full of trust in God.
When our consciousness is filled with unconditional love, it becomes more open to accept all the good that comes from God.
Even on occasions when my resources would not be enough to buy food, I put my trust in God for my provision. On two of these occasions, I felt inspired to read chapter six of the book of Matthew in the Bible. In this chapter, Christ Jesus says: “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; … Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:25, 26). I felt reassured by knowing that God loves all His children equally and infinitely, and fulfills all our needs.
Unexpectedly, and on different occasions, two friends spontaneously gave me money. The food I bought with this money sustained me for a week on one occasion and for four days on another.
I was glad for this food, but my greatest joy was grounded in my trust in God, through which I was proving that “… man is sustained by God, the divine Principle of being” (Science and Health, p. 530). Our supply comes from God, the infinite source, who pours out blessings unceasingly to all His children. I realized that in divine reality the floods of blessings are already part of the experience of all the children of God. Therefore, I could experience supply not only in some circumstances, but always.
As I nurtured these thoughts, I felt inspired to love my students and colleagues unconditionally. We love unconditionally by not focusing on what is being presented to us humanly, but by recognizing that all of God’s children reflect the good, peaceful, orderly, and righteous nature of God, with no exceptions. When our consciousness is filled with unconditional love, it becomes more open to accept all the good that comes from God; we express more peace and health; and supply becomes more apparent in our experience.
While teaching, I became more patient with my students, regardless of their behavior. At the end of that school year, I felt loved in my school. And during the end of year party, my students showed their appreciation for my teaching by joyfully reading poems I had written. I was so touched by this gesture, which further demonstrated for me how God’s love is expressed by all His children.
In Angola, it is not uncommon for some students to try to bribe the teacher in order to pass their final exams. In local slang we call this bribe gasosa. Because I was going through such a difficult financial situation, it would have been very easy to accept gasosa. However, I remained firm in my trust that provision comes from God and not from illicit means. The results of my prayers and loyalty to God were soon felt.
A few months later, I passed the civil service exams and became a civil servant in a community development program. My salary increased to 12 times what I had been earning in the education sector.
Like those three Hebrew men, whose trust in God freed them from the fire and helped them to prosper in Babylon, through my trust in God, I overcame that period of lack, and I, too, prospered.
Soon I had more than enough to meet my needs. My living conditions improved, and I came to live comfortably in a house that I own. Since then, I have taken other employment opportunities and have not dealt with financial shortages again. My trust in God grows every day!
Francisco Afonso lives in Uige, Angola.
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