The effects of the recent global financial crisis reach into nearly every home and touch average citizens in ways they seem to have little influence on. One group particularly hard hit includes many retirees, and those close to retirement. Alarming front-page headlines tell about the destruction of $2 trillion of wealth held in individual retirement accounts that may have left 43 percent of households without sufficient future income (see Peter Grier, “Fallout of stock plunge-retirement woes,” The Christian Science Monitor, October 17, 2008).
Watching funds decline in huge increments is disconcerting and frustrating, and people feel understandably helpless in the face of losses that can affect them so profoundly. Some employees are delaying retirement to work longer. Some retirees are seeking reemployment to ensure that their basic daily expenses continue to be met.
In a situation like this-one that seems huge, unwieldy, and detrimental-a question arises: Can the average person do something to help stabilize the situation, and bring security and comfort to his or her own financial picture
The answer is yes. But it requires looking away from the chaos of markets into spiritual harmony-the reality of life. Rather than accepting want as inevitable, we can recognize the present and infinite blessings of God. Instead of letting dire predictions dictate the course of our lives, we can push back against them and place our trust on a strong, spiritual foundation.
The Bible is teeming with examples of people who did just that. Faced with insurmountable obstacles and limitations, people have turned to God and, by doing so, have found rich spiritual resources sufficient to completely negate human dearth, famine, scarcity, drought, lean years, etc. Think of Gideon whose impressive army of 32,000 was reduced to just 300 before he went forward to capture a city. His reduced material strength actually encouraged him to think spiritually and to trust God-the infinite source of strength and all good. He developed a brilliant superior strategy by which his tiny, intrepid force saved Israel (see Judges 7).
A moment of extremity is an opportunity to stick to the fundamentals of prayer-to remind ourselves that God is the only power in the universe and that we exist within the divine economy as spiritual ideas of God. Accordingly, we are not subject to declining resources; divine resources are unlimited, where supply equals demand exactly. The eternal benefits of intelligence, efficiency, and abundance are constant. God’s economy is impelled by His very nature-by love, principled action, and intelligent ideas. And it’s a perfectly balanced system that can never lose anything of substance or value.
Someone recently reminded me that worry is ingratitude in advance. We have no time to waste on it. Holding our gaze on eternal facts, keeps us open to the harmonious truth that heals the situation. Conversely, looking at symptoms-declining balances for instance, or a calendar of approaching due dates, or stock market results that thrash wildly day to day-can foster within us the thought that our substance is somehow controlled by material forces. Allowing ourselves to be hypnotized by material evidence is like watching a clock when we should be working. It is unproductive. Turning away from material evidence, looking and listening for what God knows about His economy, readies thought to perceive and accept the elegant solution that is probably already waiting for us.
Right ideas are constantly flowing to us from God, providing daily supplies. We can confidently affirm this for ourselves, and pray for receptivity and humility. As the image and likeness of God, we are intelligent, receptive, clear-thinking. God is the source of ideas, and we receive and employ them. Good, honest, practical ideas coalesce into powerful, effective solutions that bless all. Sentinel founder Mary Baker Eddy perceived this clearly when she said: “Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited” (see Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 210).
Now, as always, God is the sole power and intelligence of the universe, and He remains present and immediately available every moment. This conviction shines through in the Psalmist’s firm declaration of freedom from lack in this single verse in the Bible: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want” (Ps. 23:1). It voices an eternal truth that is practical wisdom today. Retirees and all of us can remain confident in the smooth operation of the divine economy in which our present and future stability is assured.
Article originally appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel, November 17, 2008.
Republished with permission of The Christian Science Publishing Society.