Feeling embattled? Time for a higher view.
The day is just getting started, and already we feel as if we’re doing battle. On one side, there’s the normal, calm life we all want to live, and on the other the disturbance and negative sense of life that seem to take many different forms as the pandemic drags on.
We’re not alone if we feel battle-worn. More importantly, we’re not alone in yearning to find a better perspective on life, one that opens up fresh ideas and brings peacefulness and well-being. A spiritual perspective can do this. Consider what happened to King Jehoshaphat.
One day he received word that a great army was coming to do battle with him, and at first he was afraid. Then the king did what turned out to be the right thing: In the face of the crisis he called for prayer, and he encouraged all the people of his kingdom to trust in God. Then the Bible says the Lord said (through Jahaziel), “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
The account concludes, “So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.” The prayers of Jehoshaphat and his people had lifted their outlook to sing praises to God, and that had led them to a point where a battle was unnecessary (see II Chronicles 20:1–30).
That spiritual message, “The battle is not yours, but God’s,” is quite remarkable. Is it still helpful for someone feeling under siege today? If so, what’s the basis for the peace that Jehoshaphat and his kingdom experienced?
The king was devoted to God, according to the Bible, which helped him be unafraid, meek, and confident. Leaning on God also changed his perspective. It gave him a new viewpoint from which he was unimpressed with the “great multitude” out to defeat him.
For someone feeling embattled, that’s a life-saving change of thought.
Jehoshaphat’s viewpoint is similar to what prompted the Apostle Paul to tell the Corinthians, “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4, 5).
Jehoshaphat and Paul, each in his own way, redefined the battle. They helped change the way people thought about God and each individual as God’s creation, spiritual man. And they show us the powerful difference a more spiritual viewpoint can make when we’re tempted to crawl into a hole. Instead of battling with, and succumbing to, a life framed by what the physical senses report, they relied on God, and this reliance took them to a higher outlook—a spiritual sense of God ever with us, who holds all power and might against any form of evil, and so is literally unopposed.
This wasn’t a warfare against a worsening condition. It was a mental conflict between opposing perceptions of what was going on.
Paul, who started out battling against Christians, felt irresistibly compelled to become one, and devoted himself thoroughly to the teachings of Christ Jesus. Paul glimpsed the truth that we are made in the image of God, Spirit (as it says in Genesis 1:27), and identified this true sense of every individual’s identity as the “new man.” This is what we each really are—not alone and helpless, but fully related to God and completely embraced in God’s care.
This true idea of our nature as God’s expression has always been here, and it makes an extraordinary difference when we identify ourselves in this way and bring our thoughts and lives into accord with it—when we “put on the new man,” as Paul said (Ephesians 4:24).
Years ago, friends of mine, Christian Scientists, had an experience that shows the difference this can make.
This couple were expecting a child and asked if I would pray with them for a normal and fearless childbirth, which I did. Over a period of several months the wife gained peace and was feeling confident. When she went in for delivery, all went well.
The day after the delivery, however, she called and said that when the doctor examined the child, he found troubling indications of a blood disorder. If there was no improvement within 24 hours, he would order a blood transfusion. My friend felt overwhelmed by the dark prognosis, and as she hung up the phone, I, too, felt discouraged. But we turned to God in that need.
A moment later, an entirely different perspective pierced the darkness. I saw that this wasn’t about a battle with darkness, in which it was overtaking light. It was about the naturalness of light, which always defeats darkness. It wasn’t a warfare against a worsening condition. It was a mental conflict between opposing perceptions of what was going on.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, explains, “The suppositional warfare between truth and error is only the mental conflict between the evidence of the spiritual senses and the testimony of the material senses, and this warfare between the Spirit and flesh will settle all questions through faith in and the understanding of divine Love” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 288).
The evidence of spiritual sense indicates that man lives in God’s universe, under divine Love’s perfect control, and that this is what’s really going on. This higher perspective dissolved the mistaken impression that we were in, or on the losing end of, a physical battle. We were upheld by a deep conviction that God’s harmonious government of man is going on for everyone, always, including this newborn child.
This wonderfully new sense of God’s constant goodness and love for each one of us took away the fear, the foundation of disease, and rapid improvement resulted. The next day my friend called and said the doctor had given them the all-clear. The problem with the baby’s blood had cleared up, and the family returned home.
Throughout history, people’s lives have been changed and cared for as they have reached out to God, who enables everyone to feel and know the peacemaking, healing spirit of Truth and Love, which is Christ, the presence of God that never leaves us. From this perspective, we see we’re never truly embattled, but at peace, assured of God’s perfect governance of our lives.
Guest Editorial Writer