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Asking sublime questions

From The Christian Science Journal - January 27, 2014

I sometimes catch myself and others asking questions that are virtually impossible to answer. One that people often ask is: Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

When I’ve wrestled with similar questions, I’ve been helped through my study of Christian Science in understanding that God doesn’t really “let bad things happen” to anyone.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, states: “The question is often asked, If God created only the good, whence comes the evil? To this question Christian Science replies: Evil never did exist as an entity. It is but a belief that there is an opposite intelligence to God” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 346).

We could spend a lot of sincere effort trying to answer that question. Or we could look for a better question to deliver the correct answer—one that helps us gain a clearer understanding of what’s true, of divine Truth. For example, we might ask, Who is God? or, What is the nature of God?

Mrs. Eddy takes this specific line of questioning one step higher when she states, “The precise form of God must be of small importance in comparison with the sublime question, What is infinite Mind or divine Love?” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 256). Praying and searching for answers to “sublime” questions can open up whole new meaning and blessings for us.

If you were to go through a heart-wrenching breakup with someone you love, as I have, you might ask yourself, Why doesn’t he or she love me anymore? Much time might be spent with that inquiry playing on a continual loop in your thinking. Perhaps sleepless nights would be consumed with asking yourself what you might have done wrong and what you could have done better. Yet, in your soul-searching, what if you reached out to God for answers and asked different questions? For instance: What is the source of love? Can I ever be without love, if it comes from God? Where do I see expressions of God’s love already in my life, and am I grateful for it? Am I open to the things that divine Love, God, has prepared for me?

As hard as it may seem to do at a moment of despair, rather than spiraling down in our thoughts, we can ask the kinds of questions in prayer that will elevate us to new heights.

These were all questions that helped me at a tough point in my life. They were more helpful, healing questions to ask and pray about than jumping on a dispiriting spiral of doom that goes with asking the kinds of questions that assume something wrong or evil has occurred. As hard as it may seem to do at a moment of despair, rather than spiraling down in our thoughts, we can ask the kinds of questions in prayer that will elevate us to new heights.

A number of years ago, I found a new career in teaching. I loved my job and the children. Despite some personal conflicts with the administration of the school, life was good and I looked forward to each new day. At night, planning the curriculum was a joy, and I was always excited to see the children’s enthusiasm in the morning. At the end of two years, however, I was let go from my job and I was devastated. “Can’t they see how much I love the children?” I asked myself. “Am I a bad teacher? What’s the matter with the administration?”

All of those questions kept creeping into my thought. It took a while for me to pray enough to be ready to ask better questions. Humility and trust in God were needed before I could even begin. Finally, in my prayers, I asked, “Where do You want me next, God? How can I give more to others? How can I let the children know I still care about them, even though I can’t be with them at school?”

Those questions brought answers that were much more productive for me. I was now listening to God, divine Mind, in my prayers, and consequently the path that was presented to me over the coming years was amazing. Opportunities that I could not have imagined opened up for community involvement, continued work with kids (including even those from my former school), and a marriage with a spouse who cared about working with children as much as I did.

A few years later, I received a call from a friend who had the same investment broker as I. All the money that I had saved for 20 years in my profit sharing account, and from the sale of my home, was gone. The amount totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars. The broker had been lying for the past several years about the money in our accounts which he had lost. Immediately I started asking questions like, What did he do with the money? How would I possibly get by in my retirement? How could this even happen?

With all those questions burning within me, I knew that if I didn’t change my thought process very quickly, the fear I was feeling would escalate. Mary Baker Eddy states, “We are constantly thinking and talking on the wrong side of the question. … If you wish to be happy, argue with yourself on the side of happiness; take the side you wish to carry, and be careful not to talk on both sides, or to argue stronger for sorrow than for joy” (Christian Healing, pp. 9–10).

I had to get on the right side with my questions. I began asking myself, Where does abundance come from? What is it that has always consistently cared for me? Can I forgive the broker? I needed to concentrate on those questions and answer them fairly. And the answers came: God had always taken care of me. My abundance did not come from a bank account, but from my expression of good, God, in so many ways—and that expression of good always returned to bless me. And, of course, I could forgive the broker. In fact, I found out later he had never stolen the money. He had made poor decisions in the market and tried to cover them up. I felt compassion for him. I cherished each of those answers that came to me, and I never looked back.

As it turned out, I never experienced lack. Although I didn’t recover the money, my retirement has been secured through other means, and I have been well cared for in the five years since this happened.

Most of us know what it’s like to have unanswered or challenging questions haunt us. If we’re asking ourselves these kinds of questions, we can turn them into a quest for greater spiritual awareness, asking the right questions that will lead to healing and harmony.

When you finish reading this article, perhaps you can pick a question you have been pondering for some time, then think about how to turn it into a better question that will bring you insight, guidance, comfort, and healing.

Deb Eastwood lives in Grenada in the West Indies and is a Sunday School teacher, swim instructor and coach.

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