Circumstances beyond your control?
It’s commonly accepted that happiness and well-being are subject to circumstances. Sometimes life seems to hinge on lucky coincidences – a chance meeting with an old friend, an upbringing in a privileged family, a collision avoided.
But what about situations where circumstances aren’t so rosy, such as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, having an accident, experiencing destructive weather, or losing your job? Can we get beyond the thought that things can be thrown off course by jealous colleagues or events beyond our control? Can we prove God’s presence and care are unchanging and true for everyone?
To Daniel, a Jewish counsellor to King Darius, it looked as though his life was in perfect order. He loved and trusted God in everything. But others on the king’s staff were jealous and wanted to get rid of him. So they planned a trap (see Daniel 6). As a Jew, Daniel worshipped one God, not the golden idol that King Darius had made. When no one was looking, Daniel’s enemies created new legislation that punished people like Daniel who chose not to worship the king’s idol. The penalty: being thrown into a den filled with hungry lions.
One day after the law was passed, Daniel’s enemies found him praying and triumphantly took him to the king, accused of worshiping something other than the king’s idol. Grieved, the king was forced by the law to send Daniel to the lions’ den. Daniel might have felt at the mercy of events. But he continued to rely on God just as he always had. The Bible shows he didn’t react or feel victimized.
After a long night of waiting and worrying, because he knew he’d been tricked, King Darius came to check on him. Daniel responded, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.” Daniel credited his innocence, or purity of thought, to be what saved him.
We may find ourselves in situations where our good deeds or love for God haven’t kept us out of trouble. But God’s angels are present, reminding us that God is right there with us and that our purity and strength are unchanged. No amount of confusion, outside turmoil, or plain old fear can silence the uplifting thoughts coming to us steadily from God. A hymn says, “The brave become bolder the darker the night” (“Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 18). Daniel proved his boldness by remaining faithful and dependent on God.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Let us rejoice that we are subject to the divine ‘powers that be.’ Such is the true Science of being. Any other theory of Life, or God, is delusive and mythological” (p. 249).
Chance and circumstance are variable and dictate very narrow options for the course of events in our lives. On the other hand, the “divine powers that be” always show that we live in harmony and safety with infinite good, with God, who is divine Life itself. Hearing His voice, we are safe from the fear of danger and are able to feel confident, wherever and whatever we’re doing.
Jesus promised, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (10:7). One way of understanding this kingdom of heaven is as a state of thinking, or consciousness, that is always available. We are never beyond the range of God’s tender care.
God never drops the ball or forgets any one of us. The more we understand that our refuge and strength come from God, and that we all live within the kingdom of heaven, the more we have the inspiration, security, and comfort we need.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote of this steady care: “Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 149–150).
Looking to God as a first response, no matter how scary a particular life-scene appears, reveals that divine Love is always with us. Understanding God to be all-powerful leaves no time when we can be separated from divine care.
Originally published in The Christian Science Monitor, May 26, 2009.