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God doesn't withhold good

From the August 6, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

mountain view with pink flowers
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When we feel we lack something, are threatened by limited resources, sometimes human reasoning has us phrasing and rephrasing familiar questions. For instance, How did I get in this mess? Can I really expect to find appropriate work? How can I impress this employer? When will the economy recover? Perhaps we sense that endless analysis of our situation isn’t very productive, but there doesn’t seem to be a practical alternative.  

Christian Science encourages us to back off unneeded repetitive questioning and give thorough attention to biblical answers. Scripture reveals a God who generously provides for His creation, a God who is pure love itself and cannot neglect His children. We read:

•  “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in
all things, may abound to every good work” (II Corinthians 9:8).

•  “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalms 23:1). 

•  “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). 

•  “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee” (Psalms 55:22). 

One of the definitions of sustain is “to hold from below.” If you pick up a dog or cat, you don’t grab him roughly by an ear. You cradle him; you could say, metaphorically, that this is how God holds us. As a hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal states, “Everlasting arms of Love / Are beneath, around, above” (No. 53). God’s arms are always around us. God’s sustaining love carries us gently forward to opportunity, helpfulness, and productivity. God has no useless, pointless, or inactive children. 

We need not stay on the carousel of personal reasoning where we go up and down, around and around, but never really get anywhere. God imparts freshness, spontaneity, spiritual vision, and because of this, man is not confined to the same old mortal limits. We live under the divine law of continuous unfoldment and development, and can legitimately expect to have meaningful work and fair remuneration. 

The Bible tells of two brothers, Jacob and Esau. Jacob in particular is caught up in deception, and so he cheats his brother out of a rightful inheritance. This leads him away from his home country and into business with his often unscrupulous uncle. After 20 years of hard work and gradual progress, Jacob finally plans a return to his homeland. At a joyous reunion, Jacob and Esau both affirm the spiritual fact that God had supplied them, and both say, “I have enough” (Genesis 33:9, 11). 

And so, when we feel threatened by lack, or by the idea that we need to push someone out of the way to get what we need, we can refuse to react anxiously and instead respond more thoroughly to the truth that God has enough love for all His sons and daughters. We don’t need to postpone declaring and accepting, “I have enough.” Why? Because a personal assessment of our assets can yield, and ultimately must yield, to the truth that God is the one source of our being and He authors no deficit. Let’s be less ambivalent and more certain about the following point: God gives us no emptiness or frustration, and man has only what God creates. God simply can’t coexist with a shortage. Since God is here and all-powerful, limitation is nowhere and impotent. The presence of God means the absence of deprivation.

We might pray: “Thank you, Father, for placing and supplying me. There is no ‘if’ in Your lawful provision. All the love that has ever provided for anyone, all the truth that has ever healed anyone, is fully with me today. I do not lack because God cannot fail to sustain me. I will worship and trust You, and bow to no other gods.” 

Following the liberating reunion with his brother, Jacob does something breathtakingly simple. He calls his vast family together, collects all their graven images, or “strange gods” as the Bible calls them, and hides them under an oak tree (see Genesis 35:2–4). A material approach to God must be abandoned in order for the family to progress. Jacob wants his family to worship the God who guides and supplies, the God who is not found in or through matter. And we, too, can discipline and deepen our worship of super-abundant Spirit by leaving behind the temptations to believe in insufficient supply.

Let’s catch a glimpse of the fact that one man’s good is indicative of every man’s good.

The experience of a friend of mine illustrates how lack can be overcome. After five years of diligently building his one-man financial service business from the ground up, everything suddenly seemed in jeopardy. A man came to my friend expressing interest in starting a similar business in a distant part of the state. My friend freely taught this man what he had learned, and even shared a list of his clients to give him an idea of the type of businesses he might contact in his own area.

A few weeks later, this man moved into my friend’s region and fraudulently notified all of my friend’s existing clients that my friend was going out of business. This man told the clients that he would now be happy to serve them at a reduced rate. When my friend heard about this from some of his clients, he was filled with anger toward this man, and feared that his business and young family would suffer significant loss. He was overcome with questions about why someone would be so dishonest, how he could retaliate, and what was to become of his business.

Once my friend cooled down, he began to apply the teachings of Christian Science to his situation. He realized that he shouldn’t fight unkindness with unkindness. He sensed that the solution wasn’t in reaction but in understanding more of divine Love’s justice, control, and supply. He began to see that there was always enough good for his family, that this sustenance came from God, and couldn’t be taken away by deception. He and his wife held to this Bible promise: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalms 37:23). And they accepted Mary Baker Eddy’s assurance, “A deep sincerity is sure of success, for God takes care of it” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 203). My friend glimpsed that his business was actually an idea, composed of integrity, helpfulness, thoroughness, and friendliness. He gradually saw that this idea was intact and safe.

A practical step emerged from his prayers. My friend wrote a letter to all his clients. Without mentioning the man who was being deceptive, he simply assured the clients that he was grateful for their business and planned on serving them for a long time. The result was that my friend didn’t lose a single client. The other man’s business ultimately collapsed and he moved away, while my friend’s work continued to expand, meet all the needs of his family, and bring the satisfaction that comes with honestly assisting people. 

My friend proved in a degree that evil cannot deprive one of God’s provision. It just doesn’t make sense for God, our loving Father, to be anything less than our perfect supplier. God can’t be unexpressed. Sometimes we feel that our Father manifests Himself more fully, more generously, in some people’s lives and less in others’. But such a view misrepresents and diminishes universal divine Love. Infinite Spirit can only be magnanimous. Let’s catch a glimpse of the fact that one man’s good is indicative of every man’s good. We don’t want to be found accusing God of partiality, something He can’t know. 

Perfect Mind blesses all equally and fully. “Unfathomable Mind is expressed. The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space,” writes Mary Baker Eddy. And then she adds three significant words: “That is enough!” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 520).

To overcome the constant “I don’t have enough” of human reasoning, we can more consistently yield up matter-based assumptions regarding the nature of God and man. We can release the notion that God is capable of withholding from His creation, or that man is unreceptive to divine provision. We can assert, “I lack nothing because I come from God, am at one with God, and am going in God’s direction.” Christ Jesus spelled out man’s eternal, spiritual oneness with God when he said, “I and my Father are one” and “I came forth from the Father . . . and go to the Father” (John 10:30 and John 16:28). 

Jesus demonstrated that needed supply could be found even in situations where there appeared only barrenness. The Master didn’t come to show us what we can’t do, but what we can do, that is, to discover that every legitimate need can be met. We may feel impelled to be more humble, patient, or dig a little deeper, or to steer our efforts in a different direction. And we are able to obey what God calls us to do. 

Christian Science, according to Mrs. Eddy, “comes to reveal man as God’s image, His idea, coexistent with Him—God giving all and man having all that God gives” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 5). Whatever limitation seems to have bound you, hold it up to the enlightened view that God gives all and man has all that God gives. Stay thankful and confident. Surely a way forward will become evident.

Thomas C. Asher is a Christian Science practitioner in Sacramento, California.

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