At one point, awhile ago, I became so angry with a family member that I did a hurtful thing, purely out of spite. Then, recently, I was tempted to repeat the action. I even told someone that I was contemplating doing this mean thing again.
Right afterward, I was alone as I walked around the room pondering the choice I had. A deep sense of peace suddenly swept over me, and I realized what a blessing it was to be able to make a conscious decision about what to do. This was followed immediately by the realization that I had no desire to do any mean thing. I went back to the person and told the individual that I wasn’t going to do anything, adding: “I don’t have an angry bone in my body.” It was a thrilling moment. To know this about myself brought me inexpressible comfort and joy.
It’s interesting that I came to the right conclusion about myself when I was alone—just like Jacob, when he wrestled with the angel (see Genesis 32:24–32). Because he had sent away his wives, children, servants, and animals to protect them from possible harm, Jacob was emotionally free to do what he did next, which was to struggle with error.
When Mary Baker Eddy comments on this moment in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (see pp. 308–309), she makes special emphasis in this statement: “Jacob was alone … .” The italics emphasize that being alone was pivotal to the transformation that was about to occur. He was “wrestling with error,—struggling with a mortal sense of life …” when an angel, representing Love, visited him. When Jacob understood the truth, it gave him strength to resist error. The angel restored his soul. In Mrs. Eddy’s words, Love “gave him the spiritual sense of being and rebuked his material sense.”
Science and Health points out an important lesson for me in Jacob’s story. Through his struggle, Jacob became Israel, “the father of those, who through earnest striving followed his demonstration of the power of Spirit over the material senses; and the children of earth who followed his example were to be called the children of Israel, until the Messiah should rename them” (p. 309). And it continues: “If these children should go astray, and forget that Life is God, good, and that good is not in elements which are not spiritual,—thus losing the divine power which heals the sick and sinning,—they were to be brought back through great tribulation, to be renamed in Christian Science and led to deny material sense, or mind in matter, even as the gospel teaches.”
Jacob had quite a bit of personal baggage—a dysfunctional family, sibling rivalry, trickery, and more—but after his change of heart he became the father of the children of Israel. Can’t we, too, look forward to larger achievements? Doesn’t Jacob’s example mean that we don’t need to be so weighed down by shame and guilt about the past that we forget that God is in charge?
To me, Jacob’s victory over error symbolizes the possibilities for change that occur when we are touched by divine Love and Truth—by the Christ. Once this has happened and been acknowledged, we can never go back. Combining this new sense of ourselves with a sincere, daily effort to be open to reformation brings healing. Cultivating humility—no matter who or where we are—and understanding that we can do anything through God, results in the final, natural correction of whatever needs correcting. This divine grace is ours to express.
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