Monday, December 19, 2005

Check your assumptions

Sometimes in my practice, I hear questions like, "Why is God doing this to me?" or "What am I doing wrong?" And these questions always bring me up short. I find them unanswerable.

I take comfort in the fact that I'm not the only one who won't answer these questions. Last week's Bible Lesson had the story in it of Jesus stilling the storm. Here's the text:

And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

--Mark

"Carest thou not that we perish?" I stared long and hard at that question last week as I studied. It had a familiar ring to it! And it finally occurred to me why I can't answer questions like that. The assumptions inherent in the question are at odds with spiritual truth.

"Carest thou not that we perish?" packs a load of assumptions:

  1. that it's possible for Jesus not to care,
  2. that the storm is about to kill them,
  3. that death is real,
  4. that it's all Jesus' (and by extension God's) fault.

And I love Jesus' response. You or I might have said, "Oh, of course I care! I love you so much! It would really bother me if you died in this storm!" But that's not what Jesus did. As a first response, he did the most practical thing possible—he stilled the storm.

Does he tell them then that of course he cared? Not really! Instead, he questions their assumptions. He shoots right back to them, "Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?" It's as though he's saying, Look, you know that God is good and all powerful. Why the leap to 'we're all gonna die'?

So to me, questions like, "Why is God doing this to me?" or "What am I doing wrong?" carry the same kind of faulty assumptions. Asking them assumes God *is* doing this to you or that you *are* doing something wrong. And those are the very misapprehensions that need to be exchanged for truth.

One of the key points of Christian Science to me is the discipline of reasoning from cause to effect, rather than the other way around. Meaning, we start with God, perfect Cause, and draw conclusions then about perfect effect—man, us. To start with mortality and attempt to reason upward—the "why me" syndrome—is a dead-end.

Start with God, and you'll find that God is sending only good to you always. You are not doing anything wrong; in fact, as His image and likeness, you embody His perfection. Any supposed evidence to the contrary of these spiritual facts is attributable to the storm of mortality, and is not attached to you in any way.

Christ stills that storm today as Jesus did centuries ago. Have faith.


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2 Comments:

At 12/19/2005 07:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Laura,

This is exactly what I needed to read today! I have been stuck on the "what am I doing wrong?" merry-go-round with regards to a physical problem I'vd been praying about. I love the realization that I don't have to think about that question anymore - that that question "is at odds with spiritual truth". Wonderful! I will begin again from the right standpoint!

Have a wonderful merry Christmas!

- Ana

 
At 12/20/2005 05:47:00 AM, Blogger ENS said...

What wonderful truth! I too really needed to read this post today. I'm always trying to figure things out and i have been stuck on the "what the heck is wrong with me today" broken record to long. What great peace that brings me to know that I don't have to beat myself up continuously while asking that question.

Love much,
Esther

 

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