Q: How come bad things happen even if we’re praying a lot?
A: Don’t we all ask some version of that question and have to come to grips with it? I did, anyway.
As a new, eager, earnest student of Christian Science, I loved what I was learning—in a nutshell: God, good, is All. Equipped with that understanding, I thought somehow that things would be so easy. My idea was to read my “nice little Lesson” (the weekly Bible Lesson found in the Christian Science Quarterly), then go about my “nice little day” of smooth sailing. But bad stuff happened anyway. I knew that at some point, I’d have to tackle that “bad things” question. Soon I did, when two things in the Bible Lesson bothered me.
First, in the Bible I read something Christ Jesus said to his disciples: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). I didn’t like that “t” word (tribulation) one bit. And how could Jesus possibly see any “good cheer” in severe trouble?
Then, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, I found this disconcerting passage: “Trials are proofs of God’s care” (p. 66). I didn’t like that “t” word either. And how could she possibly see trials as proofs of God’s care?
I said out loud, “God, if You’re here, and if You’re Love”—then I paused, because I was pretty sure both of those were true—“You’ll make sure I don’t have any trials.” Admittedly, not my most inspired prayer. And I guess I must’ve realized that it wasn’t really prayer at all—just wishful thinking—because then I got quiet and really prayed.
How could Jesus possibly see any “good cheer” in severe trouble?
After much pondering of Jesus’ and Mary Baker Eddy’s teachings and the severe trials they overcame (every one of them!), here’s what came to me:
Regarding Jesus: So he didn’t promise a rose garden—never said, “Follow me and you’ll never have to use these teachings.” But he did equip us well. His admonition, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” now said to me, “And I’ve given you everything you need to do it, too.” After all, he also told his followers, “All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). What a robust toolkit! What he taught and proved about God was enough. Still is.
Regarding Mrs. Eddy: In the midst of each of her many trials, never was her thought on the “how dark is my tunnel, how deep is my pit” side. Always, her every thought and prayer was on the “how great is God’s love, right here with me” side. And she triumphed, proving God is an ever-present help and gives us everything we need.
Christianity, I was learning, isn’t about wanting everything hunky-dory. It’s about how to “be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). It’s about cultivating our spiritual sense, which everyone has—and, as Science and Health explains, “Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God” (p. 209). This spiritual sense shows us, unmistakably, the unreality of evil and the allness of good, God.
Jesus didn’t promise a rose garden. But he did equip us well.
Since God, good, is All, then all the bad stuff is error, or a mistaken sense of things. It’s “that which seemeth to be and is not” (Science and Health, p. 472.). Nothing claiming it is something. Whatever form it seems to take—sickness or sadness, hatred or hurtfulness, violence or vanity—error is nothing more than an attempted denial of God’s goodness, hereness, nowness, and almightiness. But always right here, right now is Christ, the presence of God’s power and the power of His presence, which is ever-active, irresistible, and unstoppable. This Christ, or Truth, is God’s communication to us; it gives us a conviction of God’s omnipotence—and the courage and confidence to prove it.
No matter how many trials we face, and no matter how bad things seem, God’s love for you is so much greater. And He will show you that so you can prove it. I learn that more each day.
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