Where Is Your Faith?

From the Christian Science Journal, May 1916, by


At the time of the storm upon the Galilean lake, when the disciples cried out to the Master to save them, the question which he put to’ them was, “Where is your faith?” It was evident from their self-confessed inability to cope with the situation that their faith in the power of matter to destroy them was greater than their faith in the power of Spirit, to save them; hence it is not surprising that to his very pointed question not one of them could answer a word.

This is not the only instance in which Jesus had to do for his disciples the work they should have done for themselves. When they asked him to dismiss the multitude who had followed him out into the wilderness, so that they might go and buy food, his instant response was, “They need not depart; give ye them to eat.” But they only proved the insufficiency of their faith by looking helplessly at the few loaves and fishes.

How often must the Master have groaned within himself at the deadly dulness of those whom he had so tenderly sought to teach! Nevertheless with unfailing patience he said. “Bring them hither to me.” He had given the disciples an opportunity to manifest their own understanding of the truth, and they had lost it. So he not only fed the multitude for them, but in the instance above noted he had not another word for the terror-stricken little group than the question already quoted, as he quietly turned from them to rebuke the winds and the waves with such authority that the tempest could do no less than cease and the calm of Spirit follow.

No characteristic of Jesus was more pronounced than his unwavering trust in God. Before the writer became a student of Christian Science she used to puzzle a good deal over the failure of Jesus to assist the poor widow who had cast her two mites into the treasury. He knew it was all she had, “even all her living,” for he had called his disciples’ attention to that fact; yet there is no record that he did anything except to commend her action in the highest terms. Why did he not give her something? Commendation, though pleasant, does not buy bread.

How could any one so tenderhearted and compassionate as the Master witness that touching little scene and raise not even a finger in the widow’s behalf? He who had fed the five thousand was amply able to help her, and he knew her need. How could he let her go home without anything? He could do it because he had enough faith in God; because he knew that instead of going home without anything, she was going home to find that every real thing on earth was now on her side. She had proven that she was not looking to matter to supply her needs, for she had just given away the last bit of it which she possessed; and by reason of that very act she had placed herself unreservedly under the protection of Spirit, thereby availing herself of a spiritual law more certain, changeless, and infalliable than the so-called law which holds the planets in their courses.

The widow may have been wholly unconscious of this. Her deed may have been inspired merely by a simple, childlike faith that in some unknown way God would take care of her; but this did not affect the result. She had laid hold of a law, whether she knew it or not; and God’s law does not depend upon human will for its divine impulsion. She was, however, obedient to the law, not in opposition to it, or the blessing would have been missed.

Writing to the Romans, Paul speaks of some who “show the work of the law written in their hearts,” even though they are ignorant of the letter. How many persons are familiar with the laws of their own land? Yet each one of us has been protected from his very infancy by the laws of his country, and the fact that he may himself be unconscious of the existence of any specified law does not render that law less operative in his behalf if he lays hold upon it. Although the woman may have been unconscious that by giving up her pittance in matter she was laying hold of the limitless abundance of Spirit, this did not render the result any the less inevitable.

Jesus understood. That is why he could let this woman go without a word. It is one of the rare instances in which he simply stood aside, because there was nothing left for him to do. She had done it all herself, and there was no more doubt as to the ultimate outcome than there was doubt of the sun rising on the following morning. As she turned away from the treasury that day, one can easily picture the pure joy which must have shone in his face as he watched her go, and looking into the future foresaw its radiant possibilities. To have hurried after her in order to press a little money into her hand would have spoiled it all; and Jesus never spoiled other people’s demonstrations by getting in their way.

Let us thank God if the same may always be said of us. There are, of course, occasions where a Christian Scientist is called upon to give not only the spiritual food which is needed, but to meet the urgent necessity of the moment by supplying material assistance as well. We would by no means decry that loving charity which is not content with merely saying, “Be ye warmed and filled,” but which gladly proffers also the wherewithal to purchase that which warms and feeds. No one would deny, however, that to awaken the needy to a sense of the divine ever-presence, with its infinite supply for all human need, is to confer a much greater boon.

Christian Science teaches its followers to be loving, compassionate, generous, open-hearted, and kind; but there is such a thing as false charity, and it is often only another name for lack of moral courage. To put the hand into the pocket is nearly always the easiest way; but the easiest way is not always the best way, nor the way which most truly blesses both “him that gives, and him that takes.” Jesus once supplied the temporal need of those whom he had for three days filled with the bread of heaven; yet he did this only once or twice, so far as we know, in the whole course of his ministry. In like manner the cases wherein the practitioner of Christian Science is called upon to furnish both spiritual and material assistance may be fewer in number than is sometimes believed, if the case has not been analyzed with prayerful consideration.

What is it that impels a Christian Science practitioner who has heard some “hard luck story” to put his hand in his pocket in the patient’s behalf? Is it not a half-defined fear that if he does not nobody else will? Yet in the treatment given he has doubtlessly affirmed in all earnestness and sincerity that man is under no law but the law of God, and that consequently every avenue and channel for good is open to him, and always available. In the words of a loved hymn (Hymnal, p. 195), “Why is thy faith, O child of God, so small?” Cannot the practitioner dismiss a so-called patient with the same joyous confidence with which Jesus watched the woman go, that day of centuries past? Is a Christian Science treatment so frail a thing that one needs to watch closely afterward to see if it is working? Is the closing of an office door a signal for the perfect law of God to cease its stately operation?

Whence comes this exaggerated sense of personal responsibility? When one drops a ball, he does not reach out his hand to push it, for fear that if he does not it will never reach the ground. Can we not have as much faith in God’s law as we have in the law of gravitation? When we let go of the ball there is no uncertainty as to the outcome, no half-frightened misgiving that unless we keep a sharp eye on it, it may go up instead of down. We know that it is going down. We do not just believe that it is, or hope that it is, but we know that it is. We have done our part when we release it from the hand; the law of gravitation does the rest.

In exactly the same manner, when the practitioner has by his treatment mentally released the patient from the false beliefs which have been holding him, he has done his part; God does the rest. When at the Christ-command Lazarus stepped forth from the tomb, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, it is a significant fact that Jesus did not say to those who stood by, Loose him, and make him go, but rather, “Loose him, and let him go.”

After a correctly scientific treatment has been given, one does not need to rush around to “make” anything happen; he only has to stand aside and “let” it happen. Yet it sometimes takes real moral courage to keep our hands “off” after our mental work is done. We do not always seem satisfied with merely loosing Lazarus from his grave-clothes; we sometimes want to run after him and tell him which way to go. But is that the practitioner’s part? Yet this is what many a faithful, loving, tenderhearted practitioner of Christian Science is doing, and has been doing for years. On page 419 of our textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mrs. Eddy, we read, “Your true course is to destroy the foe, and leave the field to God.” If we only would leave it! But we sometimes stay around, and unintentionally occupy so much of the field that God has to wait a long while.

Human sympathy so easily overreaches itself. It frequently robs a brother of the priceless privilege of making his own individual struggle. It robs him of a chance to grow, because it wants to do all his growing for him. It sees so plainly what he should do that it rushes in and attempts to do it for him before he gets a chance. It wants to work out another’s problem, and then hand it to him all finished and nicely folded up, like some neat bundle. But such bundles are not worth the paper they are wrapped in, as most of us know, because most of us have handed them out from time to time. A child grows to be a mathematician through the mental processes involved in solving his own problems, not by having some kind-hearted friend give him the answers from the back of the book.

O Love divine, that clothes the lilies and marks the sparrow’s fall, if we would only trust Thee a little more! The supreme test of Jesus’ faith was when he hung upon the cross and looked down upon what seemed to be only a lost cause. What had he to show for his three years of untiring ministry? A few weeping women, a few scattered disciples, the jeers and gibes of the multitude. “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him,” was the taunt. Yet Jesus never wavered! “He saved others; himself he cannot save,” they cried. Yet even in that moment of extreme human anguish he would not look to matter for help, nor to material means. The “twelve legions of angels” were not called upon to aid the stately operation of his Father’s perfect law. He might then and there have stepped down from the cross and become their king, but he did not. His faith was still in Spirit, not in matter. His purified vision saw far beyond the fleeting testimony of the passing moment to discern the eternal activity of good. “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” was all he had to say. He had faith in the coming of the resurrection morning, even though the path leading to it brought him through the darkness of Calvary.

There is a resurrection morning for each one of the Master’s followers today, a time when we shall rise above our false estimates of life in matter to behold the risen Christ. What is it that beclouds the vision? Why does its radiant effulgence too often seem to be wrapped in shadows? Why can we not see the wonder and the glory,—see it now? “What is it that seems a stone between us and the resurrection morning?” Mrs. Eddy asks in “Miscellaneous Writings” (p. 179), and she adds, “It is the belief of mind in matter.”

Then let us lift our thoughts, as did the Master, above and away from the flutter of some mere passing human belief calling itself truth, to behold the spiritual, perfect real. Let us roll away the only stone that lies between us and the solution of every problem. Does this statement seem too sweeping? In Science and Health (p. 368) Mrs. Eddy has written, “When we come to have more faith in the truth of being than we have in error, more faith in Spirit than in matter, more faith in living than in dying, more faith in God than in man, then no material suppositions can prevent us from healing the sick and destroying error.”




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