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Things Do Not Have to Grow Worse

From the October 25, 1975 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

In Science and Health in her very practical chapter entitled "Christian Science Practice" Mrs. Eddy gives this warning: "Never say beforehand how much you have to contend with in a case, nor encourage in the patient's thought the expectation of growing worse before a crisis is passed." Science and Health, p. 396; There is never any necessity for evil and suffering to be prolonged or for things to grow worse before they grow better.

Whether the case concerns a sick body or a sick business, a sick personal relationship or a sick society, the moment to expect healing and to begin working for it is now. This is a demand of divine Mind; and we respond to it not by a mere effort of the human mind but by understanding we reflect divine Mind and its irresistible law of progress.

The Bible account of the Israelites' escape from Egypt records how they found themselves with the Red Sea in front and the pursuing Egyptians behind. Moses tells the Israelites to stand still and see God's salvation, see God fighting for them. This might have been a signal for them to dig in, pray to God, and wait for the situation to resolve itself.

But it did not happen like this. God said to Moses: "Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward." Ex. 14:15; Moses passed this further command on to the Israelites. The Red Sea divided before them, and they crossed it safely.

In times of danger it is certainly helpful to be calm, perhaps even to stand still and wait on God to help us. But it is not helpful to accept that things have to get worse before they get better. When the darkness is dense and threatens to grow denser, that may well be the moment when we need to get up and get moving. That may well be the moment when we must respond to the situation with some active step, sometimes even without knowing where it will lead or what will be required of us next.

This step may be some good and useful action. Outside London a church, built in a dark hour of English history, carries this inscription: "In the year 1653, when all things sacred in the kingdom were either profaned or demolished, this church was built by Sir Richard Shirlye, Baronet, whose singular praise it was to do the best things in the worst of times." That particular tempest in English history blew itself out, as others have done since, but Sir Richard's church still stands as a memorial to a courageous man and an inspiration to all after him "to do the best things in the worst of times."

Or the demand on us may be not for action but for words well spoken. Jesus surely did the best thing in the worst of times when he prayed his heavenly Father to forgive the soldiers who were nailing him to the cross. This Christly expression of pure, unselfed love, this reflection of the divine Love which was the source and Principle of his being, was no act of resignation; it was a strong forward step toward his victory over death and over all the selfishness of materialism. Throughout his earthly life Christ Jesus set this example for overcoming the world: to make every attack on him, every obstacle thrown across his path, an opportunity not only to stand fast but to take the spiritual initiative in deed or word or thought.

Or thought! One of the most effective responses to the threat of prolonged and increasing difficulty is a strong forward thrust of thought, spiritually motivated and spiritually directed. However physically oppressed we may be, however tightly constricted by financial shortage or oppressive relationships or even by some world condition, we can make this very circumstance an occasion for reaching outward and upward in thought, for a powerful initiative in opening everything within us to new inspiration and new spiritual insights.

And to what can we reach out in thought? For each the answer to this question will be individual, but here is a passage from Unity of Good that offers one pointer. Mrs. Eddy writes: "Human perception, advancing toward the apprehension of its nothingness, halts, retreats, and again goes forward; but the divine Principle and Spirit and spiritual man are unchangeable,—neither advancing, retreating, nor halting." Un., p. 61; As we reach out in thought to a clearer recognition of the unchangeable nature of Spirit and spiritual man, we find ourselves receiving the surest guidance whether to stand still or go forward and, if we are to go forward, how we should best do so.

This then is the demand upon us: in the worst of times to be ready always to take the spiritual initiative, to do and speak and think the best we know. Mrs. Eddy assures us: "Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee." The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 149–150. One of Love's tenderest lessons is that things never have to get worse before they get better. We can go forward in expectation of release now.

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