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Islamic Ideology ( 27 Jul 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Daily gratitude: A Christian Science perspective on daily life

From the July 25, 2008 edition


A woman in London complained to her mother that the young professionals she was meeting were all working such long hours in the City, the financial sector, that they never had time to develop meaningful relationships. She's not alone – nor is London the only place where this cry for companionship is heard.


Her mother suggested trying harder to appreciate the sweetness in her life. Unlike a bee or a hummingbird, she didn't have to beat her wings many times a minute in order to make progress or gain happiness. All she needed to do was take a few moments each day to mentally express gratitude to God for all the blessings that were hers to enjoy right then. They didn't need to be great, earthshaking things – even something as small as a bee or a hummingbird would be fine.


Whether you're lonely in London or depressed in Detroit, the healing power of gratitude cannot be underestimated. Gratitude makes such a significant difference to our days. Mary Baker Eddy, who established this newspaper, put it this way: "Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 3).


In other words, being actively grateful opens the way to more good. Gratitude may take form as actually expressing thanks for our work and other activities, and for people, opportunities, and things that come our way. Or we may be silently grateful to God for absolutely everything. Developing this attitude toward life and putting it into practice daily brings healing results.


When we practice gratitude, we open our own hearts to the good God is giving us. Opening our eyes to God's direction also reveals solutions to problems. It changes challenges into blessings because we learn to turn away from the trouble and to trust that God is right there with us. Under the light of divine Love's care for us, only good can enter our experience. Even in the midst of lack and disorder, this spiritual law will bring results. Gratitude will bring forth good; it will bless us and all that we care about.


A Bible verse, as translated in the Amplified Bible, declares: "Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]" (I Thess. 5:18).


The young woman spoken of earlier took her mother's advice about gratitude to heart and put it into practice. Two days after that conversation, the mother had what she called "a chirpy call" from her daughter. The young woman told her that when she started to be grateful for everything good she experienced – however small – it changed not just her life but others' lives too. In just that short time, many opportunities had opened up for her and for her work colleagues also.


So much depends on how we look at things that it's important to get the right view, which is the spiritual view. The only will of God for us is always good – that we should always have everything we need, at all times, wherever we may be. Gratitude opens us to receive the good that is already coming to us from God. This includes companionship and contentment. When we limit ourselves to a material outlook and base our hopes on matter, we are relying on something that is totally finite and can never show us the infinite possibilities of spiritual being. Genuine happiness comes from looking above and beyond the material and into the inexhaustible resources of divine Principle, Love. When we practice daily gratitude, we'll find daily proof of the power and goodness of Love maintaining and sustaining us.



because your names are written in heaven.


Luke 10:20


The continuity of Life: A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

From the July 22, 2008 edition


 When a close and trusted friend passes from our lives, one of the accompanying feelings may be abandonment or fear. What will we do without that individual's presence in our lives? How will we wrestle our way through the challenges without his or her counsel? While everyone's circumstances are different, most of us have had these or similar feelings.


At such times, it's so helpful to turn to the Bible with its life-tested messages of God's love for each of us. The powerful account of Jesus' resurrection promises us eternal life. It reinforces the certainty that even when we aren't sure of all the answers or why things happen in a certain way, God will see us through the challenge.


Jesus knew this and trusted it. How else could he have faced crucifixion so bravely? In his final hours with his disciples, Jesus must have yearned to prepare them for the threats and dangers that lay ahead. He directed them away from personality to the Christ, the spiritual truth that was the heart of his message. He needed them to understand that the spiritual work they were doing went far beyond just his vision. He also wanted them to know that they would always be cared for.


He told them, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). This strengthening promise is one that will help any of us who have lost a friend, mentor, or counsellor. This promised peace has its roots in the unbreakable relationship between God and each of His children. This spiritual understanding is the basis of true peace. It is the conviction that God's goodness will prevail.


In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mary Baker Eddy made this point in a powerful way. The Monitor's founder, who had faced both joy and disaster in her long career as a spiritual leader and communicator, wrote: "This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death. The perfect man – governed by God, his perfect Principle – is sinless and eternal," p. 304).


These thoughts may seem difficult to trust when we hear of someone's passing. It may seem much more obvious that the loved one is gone, no longer able to share our burdens and our joys, and God may not feel very present at that moment. But this is when the peace Jesus promised us can help. Jesus brought this peace wherever he went. It stemmed from his knowledge that no one can be deprived of God, divine Life.


This is the knowledge that empowered Jesus' healing work and gave him the ability to stand before Pilate and others who were judging him. This is the Christ – the true idea of God and man. Christ shows us how to see the power of God supporting everything we do. It reveals that each of us is the child of infinite Spirit and that Spirit continues to be our guide, no matter how much human circumstances may argue to the contrary.


It's this focus on the reality of God's presence, and a willingness to trust God's direction of events, that lift our hearts to the peace of which Jesus spoke so tenderly. He knew that if his followers reverted to believing that life was little more than a human struggle with only scraps of help to be found, their ministry would come to a halt. But as they began to pray their way through the challenges and to perceive the spiritual reality that was behind his work, they not only were able to feel the promised peace, but even felt close to their Master.


Reliance on spiritual reality will help us also. As we draw nearer to divine Love, we see new ways Love is providing guidance, joy, and peace. There may also be times when we will gain new insights and joy from the relationship we had with our loved one.


As we are able to see God's presence as the source of the good we had with our friend, we will find new confidence that divine Life is with him or her, just as powerfully as with us. And this, too, will bring us peace.


 Facing down fear for your financial future: A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

From the July 21, 2008 edition


A young boy, not quite 4 years old, was packing for a week's visit to his grandmother's. He announced to his mother that he would be leaving "Beary" – a small black stuffed animal – behind because he was afraid of losing him. When his mother reassured him that his grandmother would look after everything, he insisted the bear would be safer at home. "Anyway," he said, "I'll have Grandma, and I always have God."


Adults may chuckle at this sweet sketch, but behind it is a very mature reckoning of what is worthy of one's deepest trust. It is good to be wise and take practical care of present resources, but it's even better to understand what is dependable, permanent, and durable.


Many are facing the need to remain calm and spiritually grounded in light of the recent bank failure in California, and the wildfire-like panic that follows such news. If thinking is not well anchored, a kind of mental contagion of fear can take over and multiply the effects of such a financial collapse.


The Bible offers steady counsel and hope. In Psalms, it enlightens: "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes," and, "Hope thou in God." (118:9; 42:5) And among Christ Jesus' teachings, there's this from Matthew: "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" (6:19-21).


Refuge from fear and panic is found in God's gracious love and care. God does not fail, and His care never ends. God's children and their needs are not overlooked by God but taken care of by Him. Under pressure of any kind, God's love does not collapse. This comforting love is practical and present. It is discoverable right now, wherever you are, regardless of your financial status.


Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, found God to be a practical help, her Provider, during times of financial need. She often turned to Him for stability and care during the years when she was without human supports or financial resources. She proved that turning to God is reliable and brings needed calm and aid. She wrote in a sermon in 1895, "Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love.… Our surety is in our confidence that we are indeed dwellers in Truth and Love, man's eternal mansion. Such a heavenly assurance ends all warfare, and bids tumult cease, for the good fight we have waged is over, and divine Love gives us the true sense of victory. 'They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures' " ("Pulpit and Press," p. 3).


A young couple survived the pressures of financial collapse while the husband attended graduate school. Already in debt, they were facing his last term and a large tuition bill. They were completely out of funds. It looked as though he might not be able to finish the degree. They prayed to be free from fear and panic. They prayed to realize the care that they were looking for was already hovering right over them, and therefore they could feel assured and safe. Days passed, and the bill was nearly due, when they received a phone call informing them of an unexpected inheritance that would be immediately available to them. It covered the tuition bill with a few pennies to spare.


No circumstance is beyond God's help. God is an ever-present help. His might and gentle shoulder are there to lean upon when steadiness and courage are needed. There is, as the Bible states, "nothing too hard" for God (Jer. 32:17).


Copyright © 2008 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.