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Strength, not stress

From the April 17, 1995 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

The Bible provides a message that awakens us to challenge stressful conditions. For instance, the Apostle Paul, encouraging fellow Christians in Rome, writes, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" The answer to this question is: "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Rom. 8:35, 37).

"More than conquerors." What a reassuring thought! Not only do the Scriptures promise spiritual strength sufficient to face any challenge; they promise more than enough. The God-established fact of man's dominion is a thread woven throughout the Bible, starting in the first chapter of Genesis. The theme of dominion was illustrated in the lives of many Scriptural figures— even when they were confronted by lions or faced with danger on battlefields, in deserts, ships, and prisons. We, too, can through prayer express greater God-inspired dominion in our lives.

Paul's powerful message noted above shows that this strength is the result of the inseparable relationship between God and man, the relationship between divine Love and its idea. Man's dominion is fully backed by God's unwavering commitment to His beloved children, as Christ Jesus demonstrated.

Christian Science provides insights into the Bible's teachings about man's relation to God, insights that lift us to see the powerlessness of the world's constant threats. It unveils a spiritual view of reality clearly held by so many Biblical heroes and heroines. This view frees us from stress. In the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy writes, "Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man's dominion over the whole earth" (Science and Health, p. 14).

Prayer based on an understanding of man's God-given dominion and of God's love has helped me greatly to overcome stress.

As we perceive more of spiritual reality, we see that we do reflect God's dominion. We understand more clearly the nothingness of whatever would stressfully threaten us. Often the threat comes as a lack of time, resources, or ability. With God there is no lack! Holding to this fact, we are less and less likely to accept that stressful situations have power to cause pressure. Instead, we express our God-bestowed strength and find ourselves overcoming such intrusions in our lives and in the lives of others.

Stress implies that there is one force opposing another. Its argument thereby betrays itself, because there can be no force opposed to omnipotent God, good. Instead of forces pressing upon man from all directions, all the power in creation proceeds from God, ever-active good. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy describes our unopposed freedom when she writes, "God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis" (p. 258). Instead of being destined to face blockage, resistance, and frustration, man has progression without friction.

Prayer based on an understanding of man's God-given dominion and of God's love has helped me greatly to overcome stress. I no longer feel pressure from the business situations that at one time caused me great concern. Instead of frustration I've been able to express spiritual qualities such as calmness and sincerity in resolving problems. Rather than feel resentful or burdened by demands pressed upon me by others, I have tried to understand better their points of view. Often this stance has allowed me to help reduce pressures affecting their activities as well as mine.

Knowing that God always lovingly provides for His children has also helped me make decisions in both my business and personal life with greater confidence. Regardless of the challenges I've faced, the knowledge of man's dominion has provided not only comfort but a conscious strength enabling me to think and act more clearly. A Christly outlook does not ignore worldly pressures—it perceives their lack of power to harm true manhood and womanhood. When we turn to God and listen to Him, these pressures do not have dominion in our lives. Spiritual reality does.

Nothing can separate man from his creator, man's complete source of good. Therefore, man is inherently free of any negative influence, including stress. All good is expressed to and through man. Understanding this, we can be increasingly unfazed by distractions and bring out greater harmony in our lives and help others do this as well.

I have often been inspired by a comment about Mrs. Eddy found in one of her biographies: "Prayer, meditation, eager and puzzled interrogation of the Bible, had claimed from childhood much of her energy, so that those who met her in later times were conscious of a certain quiet exaltation, such as may come to a woman nursing a secret spiritual advantage. ... The great ideas of God, of immortality, of the soul, of a life penetrated by Christianity, were never far from her mind" (H. A. L. Fisher, as quoted by Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Discovery, p. 102). A spiritual understanding of God's unopposed authority helped her in founding a worldwide church and in her many other achievements. We too can begin "nursing a secret spiritual advantage" by recognizing the omnipotence of God and man's loving relation to Him—for His truth is open to everyone.

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