THE Bible story of Hagar and her little son Ishmael is probably the first record of displaced persons. This mother and her son, who were cast out, evicted from their home, and sent into the lonely and desolate wilderness of Beer-sheba, wandered there until their supply of water gave out. Then Hagar, weary, homesick, and afraid, laid the child in the shade under some bushes, while she went away, "a good way off," so that she might not witness his suffering. "Let me not see the death of the child," she said to herself. And bitterly and hopelessly she wept.
Yet God was right there! Supply was right there ! And the angel of God spoke to her and said (Gen. 21:17,18): "What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not. . . . Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand." And God opened her eyes, so that she saw a well of water close by, from which she filled her bottle and gave the boy a drink. God was indeed with her and with the lad.
So blinded had Hagar been with weeping and fear that she could not see the well of water, which was there all the time. How like Hagar we are at times! How real suffering and trouble seem to us! How completely we accept them and identify ourselves with them ! How blinded we are to the well of water, the inexhaustible supply of good, which is always at hand because God is always at hand ! When, however, like Hagar, we lift our thought above the material evidence of pain and lack to the spiritual evidence of God's everpresence and love, we too shall experience healing and find supply.
But how can we lift our thought above material evidence when it seems to clamor for recognition? Where and how can we demonstrate the presence of God and hear His voice? The answer is very simple, very clear. Study of the Scriptures reveals it, for there we learn that man is made in the image and likeness of God, that he is inseparable from God, his creator —inseparable, therefore, from good, for God is good. We learn also that prayer, trust in God, and obedience to His commands enable us to understand true selfhood and to demonstrate God's presence and power in every detail of human experience. For, truly, every time we read His holy Word, we hear Him speak to us. Every time we acknowledge His goodness and power, we feel His healing presence. Whenever we do a loving deed, we make practical His law of love. Every time we realize in some degree that man is His reflection, we learn more of His nature.
Christian Science teaches us how to reflect Him and express our true identity. In "Miscellaneous Writings" Mary Baker Eddy writes (p. 185), "Self-renunciation of all that constitutes a so-called material man, and the acknowledgment and achievement of his spiritual identity as the child of God, is Science that opens the very floodgates of heaven; whence good flows into every avenue of being, cleansing mortals of all uncleanness, destroying all suffering, and demonstrating the true image and likeness."
A young man, after several years in the service of his country during the recent World War, returned home and entered college. But he was lonely; he needed companionship, wholesome activity, and fun— needed them very much. Finally, unable to see beyond the limitations of his "wilderness," he asked a Christian Science practitioner for help. And, most happily, his problem was solved. He found friendship; he found activity; and very humbly he told the practitioner some months later: "They were there all the time. The friend I needed most had been in my class all year."
His supply, like Hagar's, had been there all the time. He had only needed spiritual discernment with which to see it. And spiritual discernment was gained as he began to put into practice what he knew of God's love and law; as he began to contribute unselfishly to the harmony and success of his home and his school, and thoughtfully and graciously to live according to the Golden Rule—to do unto others as he would have them do unto him. Then it was that he found his rightful heritage of abundance and proved that good is impartial, ever present, ever available, everywhere.
A young soldier and his wife, desperately in need of a home, had a similar experience. Everywhere they went, the word "shortage" was shouted at them. And for a while they accepted as true this belief of shortage. Then one day in studying the Bible they came across these words of Christ Jesus (John 14:2): "In my Father's house are many mansions. ... I go to prepare a place for you." They had always thought of this passage as referring to some far-off heavenly mansion, a place to be acquired after death. Now it dawned upon them that, in truth, His children are always in their Father's house, in His presence, His love and care, that in God they live and move and have their being.
With an entirely new vision of home and supply, they thanked their Father for this new understanding. They rejected the material evidence of shortage and lack and rejoiced in the affluence of God's supply. Needless to say, they found a home which met their need in every way. It was just at hand! They had but needed to lift their thought to God to be led to it. Like a miracle, it seemed; and yet it was not a miracle. It was really answered prayer, confident prayer, the expectancy of good; grateful prayer, the acknowledgment of ever-present good even before it was humanly manifest; humble prayer, the knowledge that with God, the heavenly Father, all things are possible.
Supply of good is always at hand—supply of health, supply of everything we need. God is our Shepherd; we shall not want, as the Bible tells us. Health, joy, harmony, abundance, peace—all good—are His will for us, His law for us. If, seemingly, we do not possess good, may it not be that, like Hagar, we have become blinded by the limited evidence of the material senses and have failed to align our thought with God and to claim His love? Hear these assuring words (Isa. 54:11,14,17): "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. ... In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. . . . This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord."
Doubt not ! Trust God ! Go forward ! God is Love, universal, impartial divine Love. Our Leader writes (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494), "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." This is God's law, and it governs man and the universe today and forever.
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