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Calming the storm of fearful predictions

From the November 13, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

While a single news item can often feel a little scary, sometimes a series of events appear to point towards a “perfect storm.”

I first came across the phrase when viewing a trailer of the movie by that name, based on Sebastian Junger’s 1997 bestseller. The movie’s images vividly conveyed the perils of being at sea in a “critical or disastrous situation created by a powerful concurrence of factors,” which is how Merriam-Webster defines a “perfect storm.”

The movie came to thought some time later when I was praying about a situation I was facing in the work I was doing. It boasted just that sense of a “concurrence of factors” threatening a calamitous outcome. But as I recalled those perilous nautical images, I found myself rebelling against the whole notion of a “perfect” storm. I (mentally) yelled: “No! Perfection doesn’t belong to evil. Perfection belongs exclusively to God, infinite good. A ‘perfect storm’ is a spiritual impossibility!”

This was more than just a mental cry. It was prayer based on the understanding that God, good, is All, and that evil, as the opposite of goodness, isn’t the power it appears to be. I saw that if the allness of God, good, is true, as I’ve learned from the understanding of the Bible that studying Christian Science has brought me, then evil must be nothing, and thus powerless. And so it proved in this case. That predicted “perfect storm” never came to pass as I had initially feared.

The clear glimpse I had that predicting evil was actually forecasting a spiritual falsity woke me up, and impelled my prayer out of the starting blocks. I became increasingly conscious of the nature of God’s perfection and its expression in all of God’s creation, and as a result I began to see the future differently. The looming question mark hanging over me gave way to a calm confidence that nothing lay ahead except the spiritual experience of God’s goodness, and tangible solutions that would come to light as a result of that.

We can bring a similar mental shift to our view of the wider world. While remaining conscientious citizens—intelligently aware of whatever storms seem to be brewing locally, nationally, globally—we can seek a higher vantage point from which to assess hope for the future, just as the biblical prophets did. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures says of these seers, “The ancient prophets gained their foresight from a spiritual, incorporeal standpoint, not by foreshadowing evil and mistaking fact for fiction,—predicting the future from a groundwork of corporeality and human belief” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 84).

The looming question mark hanging over me gave way to a calm confidence that nothing lay ahead except the spiritual experience of God’s goodness.

It might seem hard to avoid “foreshadowing evil” in an age of expert opinions flooding a 24-hour news cycle and when social media make it as easy to share our anxieties as our insights. But there’s a great deal of good we can do by resisting the temptation to go along with, or circulate, fearful thinking. Speculation about where we’re heading is too often based on the commonly accepted “fiction” of material imperfection that would deny the underlying “fact” of the spiritual perfection that God knows and reveals. We discern the latter when we look away from either a feared or a longed-for material future and attain the “spiritual, incorporeal standpoint” from which we can perceive that in God’s eternally unfolding goodness it isn’t only “perfect storms” that do not exist; there are no storms at all. 

Perceiving God’s creation in this way, we can be prophets of today, clear-eyed spiritual seers of a timeless, divine perfection that is the spiritual reality at hand and ahead of us. On the other hand, it can seem as though a material sense of things is relentlessly vying with our inherent spiritual sense for the right to tell us how things will turn out. But we don’t need to listen to both of these “prophets” whispering into our consciousness. We can turn away from the former as a false prophet, speaking from the perspective of a baseless lie that life and intelligence are in matter. The latter is the Christ—“the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men” (Science and Health, p. 332)—revealing the reality of Spirit and its perfect expression in spiritual man. As this sense of everyone’s true being gains ascendency in our thought, we can expect the sense of living in a world prone to storms to progressively decrease. 

Foreboding threats of troubled times ahead are nothing new, of course. For instance, Christian Science Discoverer Mary Baker Eddy faced situations that seemed to bode badly as her radical spiritual insights met fierce resistance from entrenched materialism. Yet her spiritual conviction in the overwhelming authority of divine Truth over everything that would claim to contradict it consistently proved prescient. By contrast, writing of the human mind’s proneness to foresee doom-laden scenarios ahead, she said, “Predicting danger does not dignify life, whereas forecasting liberty and joy does; for these are strong promoters of health and happiness” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 240).

We can quietly, prayerfully forecast the unfolding of life and liberty in the face of every perfect storm that appears to be pending, and we can look to the future with the spiritual conviction exemplified in Christ Jesus, who rebuked a storm with the words, “Peace, be still.” When he did that, “the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39).

Such Christly consciousness of spiritual calm is exactly what our world needs when storms seem to be brewing, including any storm of fearful predictions that threaten to deluge us in apprehension. As prophets of this age, we can stand firm in the perception that it’s the “peace of God which transcends human understanding” (Philippians 4:7, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English) that is our perennial, perfect condition as God’s divinely loved sons and daughters.

Tony Lobl
Associate Editor

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