No ‘what ifs’ in God

I remember years ago recounting to a Christian Science practitioner a litany of concerns that all started with the phrase “What if”—what if such and such happens and what if that leads to something worse? He kindly interrupted me, suggesting that I stop worrying about the “what ifs” and focus on what is—what is true from a spiritual standpoint right now. Good idea. I wasn’t currently experiencing any of those things that were stressing me out—they were all dire predictions. Rather than be filled with worry, I should have more faith in good—in God and His control over my life. I snapped out of it and stopped worrying about the future, grateful for the reminder to place my trust in the omnipotence of God. 

To feel the sense of security in our lives that comes from spiritual understanding, we must learn to differentiate between what seems true from a limited, matter-based point of view, and what actually is true, God-ordained, and discerned only through what Mary Baker Eddy calls “spiritual sense.” Accepting what we see with the material senses as true and real often induces fear and instability, while an uplifted spiritual view provides comfort and practical results. 

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The Bible, specifically a spiritual understanding of it, is essential in helping us understand the truth of being. I find three Bible passages particularly helpful in this regard. The first is in Acts: “In him we live, and move, and have our being” (17:28). Since God is Spirit, and since we live in Him, as this verse states, then we must be spiritual not material. If we dwell in Spirit, then in reality we can’t be subject to any frightening “what if” scenarios, because Spirit, God, is good and all-powerful. Christ Jesus’ statement “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30) is another helpful idea. Since we are “all one in Christ Jesus,” (Galatians 3:28), we too must be one with God, and therefore, only what is true of God can be true of us. We cannot be floundering mortals outside of God’s love and protection. 

The Bible, specifically a spiritual understanding of it, is essential in helping us understand the truth of being.

These ideas are supported by a third passage: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26, 27). Since we are God’s likeness, we reflect God and His qualities; for example, since God is Truth and Love, as His likeness we are truthful and loving.

These revolutionary ideas were demonstrated without parallel by Jesus. When facing situations that for most people would have held little hope, he brought not only hope but also healing by turning to God, leaning on God’s omnipotence, and perceiving the truth of man’s unity with God. Jesus understood so clearly that the nature of God as Life, Truth, and Love is reflected by man through Christ, and that the qualities of God constitute man’s true character. He didn’t see the people who came to him for help as struggling mortals, outside of God; he saw the unchanging spiritual reality—pure, perfect, and whole. This correct view was essential to Jesus’ healing work, and what is true of God’s image and likeness was manifested time and again, resulting in healing, regeneration, and reformation.

For example, when Jesus was called to the home of Jairus, whose daughter was gravely ill (see Luke 8:41–55), he was delayed getting there, and no doubt some folks wondered, “What if Jesus doesn’t get here in time?” In fact, even before he arrived at Jairus’s house, a messenger came saying that it was too late—that she had already passed on. Jesus remained undaunted, asserting that she was not dead, but asleep. Many of the mourners laughed at him, but Jesus knew that all things are possible to God. Sure enough, Life rather than death was demonstrated: Jesus put out all the naysayers, took the girl by the hand, and told her to arise. She awakened and sat up, and Jesus commanded that she be given something to eat.

Mary Baker Eddy knew that the truth Christ Jesus referred to when he said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), was the truth of God and His creation. And knowing this truth is the key to freedom from the fears (including the “what ifs”) that rob mankind of well-being and equanimity. She wrote in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “By lifting thought above error, or disease, and contending persistently for truth, you destroy error” (p. 400). When we are receptive to spiritual truths rather than entertaining the worrisome “what ifs” of error, what is true, spiritually speaking, is revealed and governs our thought and our experience. 

By holding fast to these truths, I allowed no “what if” thoughts to get in the way of divine healing.

I recall a time when knowing what is true of God, and of man’s relation to God as His spiritual likeness, resulted in the quick healing of my young daughter. I was picking up a take-out pizza and heard her cry out—she had shut the car door on her hand. I rushed out, mentally affirming that she lives, moves, and has her being in God, not matter. I knew that since God remains intact and unharmed, the same was true of my daughter, since she was made in His image and likeness. I opened the car door to free her hand, and almost immediately she went back to playing with her sister, using that hand as if nothing had happened—which, from a spiritual standpoint, was true. Being one with God, she could experience only what God experiences, and that excludes pain and suffering. By holding fast to these truths, I allowed no “what if” thoughts (such as, “What if her hand is swollen and sore?”) to get in the way of divine healing.

A verse from Hymn 135 in the Christian Science Hymnal explains why we have nothing to fear:

I fear no tribulation,
   Since, whatsoe’er it be,
It makes no separation
   Between my Lord and me:
Since Thou, my God and Father,
   Dost claim me as Thine own,
I richly shall inherit
   All good, from Thee alone.
(Carl J. P. Spitta, Richard Massie, trans. and adapt. © CSBD)

Security comes from knowing that each of us is dear and precious to God and held safe in His love. That’s where we always dwell, safe and whole—we don’t come and go from this true dwelling place of God’s love. As we acknowledge and hold fast to spiritual Truth and deny the claims of error that appear to oppose Truth, we increasingly experience the love, freedom, and happiness that constitute spiritual reality. Challenges will be fewer, and those that do come our way will not seem so threatening or upsetting, because we see them more clearly as an opportunity to trust God and acknowledge the truth of our spiritual being. Peace of mind comes from knowing that all is, and always will be, well.

April 1, 2019

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