by Lillian McAdow, from the December 1903 Christian Science Journal
Since Christian Science deals with all the vital questions that concern mankind, it’s important to gain a knowledge of the exact meaning of words which stand for the metaphysical ideas used in Christian Science.
This applies to the term tribulation, which the new Christian Scientist feels is the very thing he expected to be free from when he accepted this teaching.
Christian Science teaches that evil, which manifests itself as sin, sickness, and death, is not a reality. However, this is not a reason for the beginner to think that he is going to be translated immediately from earth to heaven by simply declaring against these things. He will need to prove his perfection through work.
Both the Bible and Science and Health teach that the old nature must be put off and the new put on.
We learn that we need to look into the mental cause of things; and we also need to learn that every effect experienced by the physical senses has a mental origin. It’s universally recognized that thought, speech, and action make up the individual. We know from experience, that thoughts of sickness, sin, and death, if indulged in, are the forerunners of these conditions. We can’t think about disease, or picture the different forms it may assume, and still hope to be free from disease. We can’t listen to idle gossip about sickness, then expect to have a body governed by Spirit. Why complain about suffering, if we indulge in these errors? Selfish and wicked thoughts are nests of iniquity, and cause the most subtle and obstinate diseases.
Habits are so subtle, that it takes mighty wrestlings to be able to see the secret cause of wrong actions. Our thoughts and actions should be according to the highest standards, the Sermon on the Mount. Are we always courteous? Are we happy and friendly to everyone? Are we kind to those who depend upon us for help, sympathy, and affection? Have we proven by our actions that we are keeping the commandments, living the Golden Rule, and returning good for evil? Are we taking a good look at our hidden faults and correcting them? Or do we resent just criticism that must be accepted if we want to progress? Do we excuse ourselves with the thought that it takes time to change?
We should really consider these questions, for they have a lot to do with tribulation. If we realize that tribulations present opportunities for advancing spiritually, and that we are responsible for our own success or failure, then we will be willing, and glad to work it through, so that “we shall also reign with Him.” But if we are not willing to strive and overcome, we can’t hope to be classed with those of whom it is said in Revelation, “These are they which came out of great tribulation.”
It’s a historical fact that those who have done the greatest good in the world, are those who have come through the greatest trials. Jesus was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” and “learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” Mrs. Eddy has said of herself, “The discoverer of Christian Science finds the path less wearisome when she has the high goal always before her thoughts, than when she only counts her bleeding footsteps in reaching that goal.” (S&H)
To better illustrate the value of tribulation, I’ll quote some quaint old lines from a seventeenth century poet:
Till the corn is threshed from straw, Till the chaff is purged from wheat,
Till the millstones crush the grain, There’ll be no flour to eat.