When God told the Hebrew patriarch Abraham that his wife Sarah was going to have her first child, Abraham was so surprised that he asked, “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old?” (Genesis 17:17).
Sarah, too, was astounded when she heard the news. The Bible tells us that she at first laughed at it, as Abraham had (see Genesis 18:9–15).
In researching the Hebrew word used for laugh, I found out that its meaning includes “to laugh outright (in merriment or scorn)” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). It seems likely that the couple were utterly surprised and delighted, and Sarah expected “all that hear will laugh with me” (Genesis 21:6).
I can imagine how she must have felt. My husband and I had always hoped to have children, but even after twelve years of marriage, I had never become pregnant. I had taught school for ten years and loved working with children, yet I still yearned for a family.
I prayed each day, not for a baby, but for a sense of completeness and peace. My understanding of prayer isn’t about asking God for something, but acknowledging the good that God has already bestowed.
In the twenty-third Psalm, we are assured that God supplies all good: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The psalm goes on with the metaphor of sheep being cared for by the shepherd: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
“If God is the shepherd,” I thought, “I must be one of the sheep. That tells me my needs are lovingly met.” But I still felt we lacked something. I really wanted a child, and I thought I couldn’t be truly happy unless we had children.
As weeks went on, I found myself becoming depressed and lacking a sense of purpose. I struggled with anxiety and a fear of death. I cried easily and often felt alone and afraid. I knew this mental state was not in line with what I had learned about God and His love for me, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of emptiness.
It was my habit to turn to the Christian Science Bible Lesson for inspiration. One of the ideas that helped me was this statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts” (p. 261).
This said to me that if I wanted to be free of depressing thoughts, I needed to grab and hold on to good thoughts. It wasn’t easy to do at first. When fearful thoughts came, I struggled with them as if they were something outside my control. But another passage I found helpful in the same book was this: “You must control evil thoughts in the first instance, or they will control you in the second” (p. 234).
I certainly saw that was the case. When I let in anxious thoughts, they would gain the upper hand in my thinking, so I needed to watch my thoughts carefully and do as Science and Health instructs: “Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action” (p. 393).
I remember the day I made the decision to be more alert and steadfast in my efforts to reject fear. While I was at the sink doing dishes, the nagging suggestions started to come. I had already decided I should be ready with a spiritual truth counter to them. What came to me at that moment was, “I am an immortal idea of God.”
I don’t think I fully understood it at the time, but I knew it was a statement about my spiritual being as God knows me. It was based on the fact that God is eternal, so all that He creates must be eternal too. I held on to that spiritual truth, repeating it several times until I could feel the fearful beliefs of death receding. That was the turning point for me.
I continued to progress as I became more alert to reject anxious thoughts and replace them with truths I was learning from my study of the Bible and Science and Health. Soon I was completely free of the fear and depression.
The psalm quoted above includes the statement, “He restoreth my soul” (verse 3). The spiritual interpretation of that line in Science and Health makes the meaning clearer: “[Love] restoreth my soul [spiritual sense]” (p. 578). This surely was what took place for me.
With further prayer and study, I gained a clearer sense of my selfhood as God’s reflection, His complete and satisfied spiritual idea. The power and presence of God, which Christ Jesus demonstrated for us, became more real to me, and I could trust Him to meet the human need for peace, contentment, and a sense of family.
As I realized later, these strengthening spiritual lessons were preparing me to be a parent. And it wasn’t long before I found that we were expecting our first child. Like Sarah and Abraham, I laughed with joy at the news, and I know our friends laughed with us.
Huntley, Illinois, US
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