Surmounting Adversity – Daily Bread – 04/29/2013

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Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;… singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.—Colossians 3:16.


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Nick Vujicic – Live Forever



Surmounting Adversity


From the December 25, 1954 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


A Juniper shrub, known from Bible times as a desert plant thriving on much sunshine, was once planted in the shade. With a normal amount of sunshine it would have been a wide-spreading bush, but this one shot up a straight and slender tree. The absence of sunshine at the ground level impelled it to thrust its head continually higher in search of light and thereby to find new beauty.

Much of human experience seems to be planted in the shade of adversity. Often there is very little sunshine at the ground level, but if we are wise, we begin like all growing things to reach up for the light. Life has often had an upward thrust for one who at the ground level experienced nothing but shadow and darkness.

The lesson of the juniper bush points up the fact that there are never really any obstacles to our growth, but only challenges for us to develop our spiritual awareness of God’s presence and power to greater heights.

Knowing that with God’s help one can prove himself superior to adversity and even use it to advantage, Mary Baker Eddy wrote an inspired paragraph on salutary sorrow, on page 66 of the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” introducing it by quoting Shakespeare’s lines:

Sweet are the uses of adversity;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.

And then she given her own revelation: “Trials teach mortals not to lean on a materiel staff,—a broken reed, which pierces the heart.” And she adds in the same paragraph: “Trials are proofs of God’s care. Spiritual development germinates not from seed sown in the soil of material hopes, but when these decay, Love propagates anew the higher joys of spirit, which have no taint of earth.”

To one apparently hemmed in on all sides by adversity, it may seem difficult to find any sweetness in its uses or to believe that there is a precious jewel to be found therein. It is to such a one, however, that Christian Science presents a bright promise, whose fulfillment for many is fully documented in the testimonies presented in every issue of The Christian Science Journal and the Sentinel.

Many of the healings in Christian Science have come when adversity has been appraised as an opportunity or a challenge, rather than as a calamity; when individuals have decided to make a stepping-stone out of what seemed a stumbling block, by reaching beyond the shade of materialistic or sense appraisal to the sunshine of spiritual faith. In this light new growth takes place as corrective and redemptive lessons are learned.

If adversity is appraised as calamity, even though such appraisal may seem justifiable, thought is submerged in fear, defeat, discouragement, self-pity, self-justification —negative, lightless mental attitudes, which block out hope and the possibility of progress and surmounting of adversity.

Of the many instances of surmounting adversity with progress and achievement, the founding of America is among the most impressive. Refusing to submit to adversity in the guise of religious domination, the Pilgrims courageously appraised this human situation, including the foreboding alternative of separation from the comforts of their homes and their country, as a challenge and an opportunity. Not fear, defeat, self-pity, or discouragement, but faith, courage, expectancy, and complete trust in God motivated their decision and strengthened them for the path ahead.

Great has been the progress resulting from this initial refusal on the part of a handful of Pilgrims to submit to adversity, and from their decision to accept the challenge of exploring new avenues in the quest for religious freedom. Although undoubtedly undiscernible at the time, the sweetness of the uses of their adversity has become immeasurable in progress for mankind. The Pilgrims proved, as have countless others, that nothing worthwhile has ever been accomplished without the overcoming or surmounting of difficulties, without patience and perseverance in tribulation, without the exercise of a radical faith in God.

Mrs. Eddy proved in her extremity that the present, unfailing, and ever-available way out of adversity is to turn thought to God through the spiritual revelations of the Science of Christianity. She reveals that when one humbly reaches higher, when thought is lifted to God’s spiritual truth, God is found to be that “very present help in trouble” which the forty-sixth Psalm promises. That this is a practical and present possibility is the inspiring assurance of the very first line of the Preface to the Christian Science textbook ( p. vii), “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”

Because God is omnipresent and omnipotent, the healing Christ will always appear to us in a form we can understand and use, whatever the trouble may call itself, or however severe it may claim to be. All that is necessary for us to do is to lift thought from acquiescence in evil to joyful expectation of good; from reliance on self to unselfed trust in God’s allness.

In a state institution for the so-called mentally ill where Christian Science activities are regularly carried on, it has been proved on numerous occasions that to the receptive thought the extremity of being committed has become the opportunity of turning to God. The circumstances necessitating a patient’s being deprived of his liberty (the conditions under which he must live in such an institution) sometimes wake in him the desire to seek God as a “very present help in trouble.”

One young woman had been committed to such a mental institution after an unhappy experience, brought on by discordant human relationships. Her thought had become confused by being centered on the evils in the problem, but she discerned that in this adversity she needed something beyond material help.

Remembering what she had heard of the promise of Christian Science, and having seen the fallacy of attempts that had been made to discourage her study of it, she made her decision to turn to God through its teachings. She borrowed a copy of the Christian Science textbook from the library of the institution and began to study it. Soon it came to her attention that there were Christian Science activities carried on at the institution, and she was able to obtain the help of a practitioner.

Daily endeavoring to apply her growing spiritual understanding of God to her own thinking, she found her freedom, as well as opportunities to help others around her. Not long afterwards her healing was recognized, and she was given an absolute discharge from the institution. The completeness of God’s care for his beloved child was later made evident when she found employment, suitable living quarters, and a resumption of normal family relationships.

Through adversity this woman was awakened to her real need, the great need of all mankind, of consecration to God through spiritual understanding—the precious jewel. This precious jewel is available to all who acknowledge and demonstrate the spiritual perfection of man revealed in Christian Science.