Good that’s never wasted
With the sudden fall of the government in Afghanistan, a fundamental and troubling question has come to mind for many veterans of the US military’s role in that country and in Iraq: Can all the good we accomplished in our missions there be wasted or lost? The temptation to be angry, to despair, or to be frustrated, can feel overwhelming at times. How can the Word of God help to navigate these waters?
The Bible has many accounts of individuals dealing with similar questions. For example, in the book of Isaiah it’s written: “Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain.” But the writer goes on to say that the only one judging the value of his work is God: “yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God” (49:4).
At one point the prophet Elijah became so dejected and despondent in his ministry that he requested of God to die in humiliation because he thought all his hard work in the service of God had been wasted. But Elijah was given compelling proof of the divine all-power. God then told him that not only wasn’t he alone, but there were also thousands remaining who hadn’t bowed down to the false god, Baal, and who remained servants of the one God. So Elijah’s good work wasn’t in vain (see I Kings, chap. 19).
Despite appearances, with both of these prophets the good done in their individual ministries was not wasted nor lost. In fact, the legacy of that good continues to this day, blessing countless people.
Whatever our ministry or profession, the fundamental understanding of the origin and continuity of good is key to healing any sense of having wasted one’s effort. Are human beings the source and continuity of good or is God? The Psalmist says of God, “Thou art good, and doest good” (Psalms 119:68), and as for the continuity of good, he writes, “The goodness of God endureth continually” (Psalms 52:1).
The integrity, goodness, and honor we demonstrated can never be taken away from us because its source is God.
Nothing is more important than beginning with God, Spirit, the only real cause of all existence and the only source of genuine good. The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes of God: “The Scriptures name God as good, and the Saxon term for God is also good. From this premise comes the logical conclusion that God is naturally and divinely infinite good” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 26).
Understanding that God is infinite, wholly good, and the only source of good, leads to the conclusion that good is actually both the only presence and the only power. For example, Psalm 139 eloquently shows that God, divine Love, is always present in every possible circumstance. It’s according to divine law that all that is genuinely good is as eternal as its Maker, and therefore cannot be wasted nor lost.
And being of God, Spirit, such good is therefore spiritual, and can’t be bounded by time or space. Therefore, the good that God bestowed years or millennia ago is still blessing all of God’s creation today because it is still present—and still powerful. Likewise, the good divinely bestowed anywhere in God’s universe blesses everywhere in His universe. And the divinely logical conclusion we have to reach when we understand the omnipresence of God’s being is that there is in reality no other universe than God’s. Therefore, there can never be a place or a time when and where infinite good, God, is not fully present and active in human experience.
A deeper understanding of these divine truths provided great guidance and protection to me during my three military deployments to Iraq years ago. Whenever I engaged with the local population, acknowledging the eternal law of God’s unceasing presence, power, and goodness, harmony was established in each situation. I knew that the good I was doing was the expression of my individuality as God’s idea, as His own son, as the reflection of divine goodness—a natural expression of my inseparability from our heavenly Father.
During my first deployment I did a lot of work with local Iraqi elected officials and tribal leaders to help rebuild their communities. Projects included building various structures, establishing agricultural co-ops in rural areas, and creating job programs for local youth. Yet, the good accomplished in our work wasn’t primarily about the physical outcomes. It was about the integrity, goodness, and honor we demonstrated. And since its source is God, that can never be taken away from us, regardless of other people’s actions or how subsequent events transpire. No one else can ever influence the honor we demonstrate in our experiences because the idea of honor originates in God, Spirit. God knows the good we express, and we only ever need to feel His approval: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God,” the Bible tells us (II Timothy 2:15). Mrs. Eddy writes in her book No and Yes, “Every loving sacrifice for the good of others is known to God, and the wrath of man cannot hide it from Him” (p. 7).
The simple truth is that any and all good that was an expression of God, Spirit, anywhere over the past 20 years and more can never be lost or wasted, because its continuity remains with God. That’s true for Iraq and Afghanistan, too. Whether that divine good was expressed through military or non-military personnel, locals or foreigners, it can never be lost any more than rain can go back into the sky once it has fallen and watered the ground! The ground usually needs more rain at another time, but the rain that fell did its job.
All through the Bible, people did much good—at times followed by those who did evil and worshiped other gods. But this didn’t in any way mean that the good accomplished was wasted or lost. It is always right to do good, to express the love of divine Love—to uncover the kingdom of heaven within us.
I feel that Christ Jesus spoke to this point when he said in his Sermon on the Mount: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).
When we think good originates in human beings instead of in God, divine Principle, then we are laying up treasures where “moth and rust doth corrupt,” and we won’t be able to understand how and why the good will endure. When we adhere to the law that God alone is the source of good and that we reflect that good but do not originate it, then our treasures of good accomplished are safely in heaven—in the present and eternal consciousness of God’s goodness—where nothing can corrupt or steal them. And adhering to this divine law helps uncover and stem thoughts like dismay, frustration, or anger that would keep us from seeing God’s ever-good activity.
This universal law necessarily operates with all those currently in Afghanistan or in refugee camps springing up to house Afghans fleeing to other countries. When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he replied, “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). The kingdom of God is within the consciousness of each one of us as God’s children wherever we may be, and this kingdom can never be taken away nor invaded or corrupted. It is our divine inheritance and eternal right. St. Paul emphatically states in his letter to the Romans that absolutely nothing can ever separate us from the love of God (see Romans 8:38, 39). That “us” is all-inclusive.
The Bible shows repeatedly that no genuine good can ever be wasted because all genuine good is of God. Acknowledging the operation of this omnipresent law of God, we know that our specific prayers for all those involved in the Afghanistan situation and beyond can have an immediate, continual, and enduring impact for good.