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TeenConnect: UpFront

What am I supposed to think about the bad stuff?

From the Christian Science Sentinel - February 19, 2019

From the teen column: UpFront - February 19, 2019


TeenConnect: Up Front

No matter what you believe about God (or whether you believe in God at all) you’ve probably wondered about the bad stuff in life. Why does it happen? Can we stop it? And if you know anything about Christian Science, you’ve probably asked yourself some version of this question: If God really is All, and all good—which is one of the key points in Christian Science—then why do awful things still happen? What gives?

“It doesn’t make sense,” said a teen in my Christian Science Sunday School class. And I get that. I’m not here to tell you that the tough things you see in your life, among your friends, or on the news are easily dismissed. What I am here to share is that I’ve never found answers by staring at the bad stuff and trying to understand it. The answers, even to my most difficult questions, have come only as I’ve been willing to let God show me what’s really going on from His all-powerful, totally good point of view.

I’ve never found answers by staring at the bad stuff and trying to understand it.

That’s what I had to do last year when someone I love was hit with a string of challenges. Several illnesses, one after another. The loss of someone who was important to her. And then a raging fire that threatened to destroy her home.

I didn’t get it. I wanted to believe what the Bible says: “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save” (Zephaniah 3:17, New King James Version). But what I was seeing felt like a contradiction of that. I prayed every way I knew how, trying to get clarity, or maybe even to help my friend. Finally, when those prayers led nowhere, I put this question out there: “God, I don’t understand why she’s going through all this.” Here’s the response I got: “She’s not going through anything.”

Now I know that might sound harsh, but that’s not the way I heard it. To me, that message came straight from the Love that I know is God. And knowing that Love was the source of that message woke me up to something: No matter what I was seeing, there was a different story actually going on.

It was sort of like God was telling me that the lens I was using to view the situation was faulty. I was seeing a universe full of people and things that are material, and therefore subject to suffering and destruction. But the Love that is also Spirit actually made each of us spiritual, and this is our true being, and our protection. How can you hurt something that’s purely spiritual? Impossible. Divine Love was nudging me to look deeper to perceive my friend that way—to see her as totally safe in God’s care, then and always.

The situation hadn’t changed, but this message from Love was so compelling that I found it possible to see things differently, and even to feel a conviction that my friend was protected and loved by God. Shortly after that, the situation with the fire shifted; my friend and her home were safe. And while I certainly can’t take credit for that turnaround, this experience taught me a lot about how to think about and even deal with the bad stuff. 

First, it taught me that understanding God is essential. Knowing what God is—knowing Him as an unopposed power, as the good that can’t be undermined or destroyed—is an anchor. It keeps us firmly grounded, even when waves of doubt and fear beat against us.

It’s important to get a different view. This God-based perspective shows us that we can see beyond surface appearances to what’s really going on—what is spiritually true—even in the face of things that seem scary or overwhelming.

Second, it taught me that it’s important to get a different view. A God-based perspective shows us that we can see beyond surface appearances to what’s really going on—what is spiritually true—even in the face of things that seem scary or overwhelming. Letting God show us this true view magnifies what’s real and good, and makes us feel the closeness of that good—not only the fact that it’s present, but that it’s all that’s present, and that it can bring healing, too. We do this by turning our thoughts toward God, being willing to hear whatever He’s saying, and then yielding to it.

Finally, this experience taught me that trusting God does take practice. But you can get there step by step. Start believing more in what God is showing you than in the things in your life that bug you. Then you’ll be more equipped when the tougher stuff comes along. 

Don’t worry: This isn’t all up to you. When you get really still inside, you’ll feel the power of God, good, inspiring your faith in good. And then, even in the hard moments, you’ll find that God really is there for you, giving you the answers, hope, and comfort you need.

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