Chapter 11 – Making Your Self the Master – God Talks With a Discouraged Man

GOD TALKS WITH A DISCOURAGED MAN

Harvey Hardman
Making Your Self the Master
© Harvey Hardman
Denver, Colorado, 1935.

“And he went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and requested for himself that he might die. And there came a voice unto him and said: What doest thou here, Elijah? And Elijah answered: I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts. For I, even I, am left of the prophets, and they seek my life to take it away. And the Lord said unto him: Go, return on thy way.”
— Bible.

[107] Discouragement is a mental disease. It is one of the most curious afflictions of mankind. While it is always associated with conditions that we call discouraging, these conditions are not in themselves the cause of discouragement. The cause is in our mental attitude toward life.

While it is not always possible to define exactly the immediate mental cause of discouragement in any particular case, there are certain factors that are always present in one form or another. A false conception of the meaning and purpose of life; belief that opportunity is limited or lost; a feeling of inadequacy and fear in the presence of responsibility; belief in failure and the personal pride which shrinks at the opinions of people in the face of apparent failure; and most important of all, the awful emptiness of a life devoid of genuine spiritual values.

One of the most impressive facts about discouragement is that it afflicts people of wealth and power, as well as those who have little; those who are secure financially, as well as those who have lost all. Many who do not [108] know from day to day where they will find food and shelter are free from the disease, while others who have never known an unsatisfied natural desire get discouraged to the point where they would rather die than live. It is a mysterious disease, yet we can find in mental principles not only light that enables us to see the reason for it, but the way to heal it.

The story of Elijah and his effort to wipe out the idolatrous religion of Baal, which, through the favor of Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, the Jewish king, had almost completely displaced the religion of Israel, is a perfect illustration of the effects of discouragement.

Here was a man who was not afraid to challenge all the priests of Baal, hundreds of them, to a test as to whether Jehovah or Baal was the true God. He prescribed the manner of the test, which took the form of erecting altars, one to Jehovah and one to Baal. The priests of the pagan god were to call upon him to send fire from heaven and consume the ox that was placed upon the altar as a sacrifice. They prayed from dawn until noon without results. The ox was still there, and no sign had been given that the god would honor the faith of his priests.

Then Elijah dug a trench around his altar, and poured several barrels of water on the [109] offering and the altar. He called upon Jehovah to burn the sacrifice, and Jehovah answered, burning up the altar, the offering, and consuming the water with fire. Then Elijah, having won the support of the crowd who came to witness the contest, had the priests of Baal taken down to the brook Kishon, where he slew them all, to the last man.

When Queen Jezebel heard of the terrible fate that had befallen her beloved priests, she sent a note to Elijah by one of the Court messengers telling him that what he had done to them, she would do to him before the setting of the sun on another day.

Just why a man who could call down fire from heaven to discredit a pagan priesthood should fear the threat of an angry woman, is not clear. But at any rate he took to his heels and beat it for the tall timber, seeking safety in the wilderness, where he said he wanted to die. Then the voice of his own soul spoke, asking him why he had fled to these fastnesses.

The petulance and weakness of his reason must have shamed him when he got to thinking about it. He said that all the prophets were gone save himself, and that “they” sought his life to take it away. He was willing to flee from the anger of a bad-tempered woman and seek death by suicide, and he could not face the [110] job that was cut out for him, namely, to re-establish the religion of his fathers in the land of his birth. Under the glare of publicity and the excitement and pressure of a great contest between the forces of wrong and the truth of his faith, he could face an army of enemies. But when the stimulus of the contest was gone, and his work was threatened along with his life, he could not face the music.

But in the silence of his mountain retreat, he heard “a still small voice” and he regained his courage and went back to the task he had set for himself.

The whole problem of discouragement arises out of our neglect of the spiritual life. If we talked more with the God in us and less with men; if we listened to the inner Voice more, and less to the clamorous and glamorous noises of the external world, we would find a sylvan strength and dauntless courage that would insure us against discouragement.

Faith and courage are spiritual powers. They belong to the spirit of victory and achievement, and nothing great is ever accomplished without them. If you have courage, you can go on, no matter how dark and forbidding the way may seem. If you have faith, all things are possible to you, because faith puts you in touch with the unconquerable forces of your own soul.

[111] After Elijah went to his mountain cave, he began to think that God would visit him and perhaps commend him for slaying the priests of Baal, or tell him what to do in the circumstances. When we get down to the bottom of the pit of despair, we are apt to turn to the one Power that can help us and that, had we turned to it in the first place, would have kept us out of the pit.

There came a great earthquake, which shook the mountain, but God was not in the quake. Afterward, came a mighty tempest which tore at the trees and the rocks, but God was not in the storm. And then there came a great forest fire, roaring past his cave, but God was not in the fire. And then came the “still small voice,” the voice of his own soul saying: Elijah, what are you doing here when your work calls for you? Why have you tried to escape from life and from men, when your people need your counsel and your help in re-establishing the ancient religion of your fathers among them? You, who faced death at the hands of an army of foreign priests who hated you and would have loved to see you die; you, afraid of a woman’s threat! Get you up and go hence, and fear not, for I am with thee. Have I not protected and helped you in the past? Did I not answer you when you called upon me, and proved to you that the Arm of [112] Jehovah is not shortened that it cannot save, and show you by mighty signs that there is nothing impossible with me? Go to your work and your place in the world, and have faith in me, for I am with thee withersoever thou goest.

In Science we can readily translate these Bible stories into terms of the spiritual law. The God who talks to us is the God in our own souls. When we become discouraged with life, when disappointment, ill health, or poverty assail us, and we think that there is no hope, this Power of the Spirit within will nerve and strengthen and feed us, and help us to overcome. But it is not until we see the nature of the Law that is involved in the process of regaining our courage and faith and joy in life, that we are able to turn to the inner Source of power with certainty and the assurance of effective response.

The conditions and external aspects of the world around us magnetize our attention, and absorb the energies of mind and spirit. The senses deceive us as to the real values in life, for the simple reason that the world of natural forms and conditions present such a powerful and insistent appeal that we become unconscious of the invisible cause that lies back of these external phenomena.

[113] When, in the course of our experience, conditions develop that are unfavorable to us, we are far more likely to be influenced by them than we are to fall back upon the inner resources where alone is to be found the strength and the intelligence to change the conditions.

The realm of the Spirit is invisible, its powers inscrutable. Yet, when we come to think of it, all that comes to us in the way of experience is the result of invisible forces. Our conditions and affairs grow out of our minds. And on the other hand, the very source of all that we see in nature is an invisible world, for natural forms are constantly coming forth out of the unseen, then returning to the unseen, and nothing is permanent but the hidden Law that causes things to become manifest externally.

When we begin to see this truth and translate it into terms of our experience, we become aware that we are always dealing with Law, and that the Law with which we deal is the only reality that does not change. It is the one dependable thing in the universe. We discover also that this Law is not merely operating in nature to create physical forms. It is operating in and through us, and we use or misuse it in the creation of the world of affairs that comes out of our mentalities. Our thoughts and mental [114] images are the very stuff out of which our conditions and affairs are made.

When this becomes clear to us, we see that nothing external to us is a real reason for discouragement or unhappiness. The real reason is within us, and that is the place to begin work if we are to change the things in the outer world that have emerged from our mental world of cause. In short, as soon as we see the mental origin of things, we are impelled to study the Law of that inner world, in order that we may create the kind of life and environment that we really want.

In the beginning of this study we are wise if we accept the help of those who have already made some progress in spiritual science. For while the men who wrote or compiled the Bible perhaps did not even know the word science, still, they knew the Law of the spiritual world, and wrote about their experiences with that Law.

The story of Elijah’s experience with the Master, when he became discouraged and thought he had failed, is a moving human document, because it deals with the same kind of feelings and reactions to experience that we are having today. The factors and details of his experience differed from our own, as ours differ from those of other people, but the human [115] elements are the same, and the Law back of them is the same.

When he was in the depths of despair, when he felt that everything and everybody was against him, he turned, perhaps not consciously, but instinctively to That Something within himself. The story makes it quite plain that this is what he did, for it explicitly states that he looked for God in the storm, in the earthquake, in the fire, but did not find Him in any of these external wonders. Then he heard the “still small Voice” speaking in his own soul, and to his credit, be it said, he listened and obeyed its monitions.

Most people in the modern world are so obsessed by things, so intent on listening to the stock ticker, or the pessimistic wailings of people, or reading of the tragedy and trouble in the world, that they think they have no time nor opportunity to listen to the Voice of God in their own hearts. It is the “still” Voice, and not until you have entered into the quiet of the soul, and shut out the strident tones of the external world, is it at all possible to “hear” the Voice.

Of course if you love your misery, if you want to nurse your discouragement and feeling of failure, that is your privilege. But do not blame Science, nor the Law, nor God, if things [116] go from bad to worse. Blame yourself, that you have deliberately, or unconsciously, refused to turn to the only dependable Source of courage and strength in the universe. And again I say, that if you have courage and faith, and especially if that courage and faith are based upon your understanding that God is in you as your strength and life, you will be able to get out of your trouble, whatever it is.

Discouragement comes from the contemplation of the facts of life from the material point of view. If things go well, a certain degree of happiness, contentment and courage is the result. But when trouble comes, the tendency to look upon the material conditions and think of them as the cause of your distress is inevitable, for that is your point of view, the way you think of life. Since there is nothing in the material aspects of your life that can operate to change themselves in your favor, you only add to your distress by your continued thinking about the hard luck that has come to you.

Suppose, on the other hand, that you have the habit of looking at life from the spiritual point of view. Your first reaction to any situation involving trouble is to turn to the Source of strength and encouragment which you have proved in better times to be dependable and all-sufficient for your needs. It is essentially [117] an attitude of mind, in which the idea of the presence of God is the supreme factor. And it is the direct awareness that God is not an external personality, but an immediate, living, inner Presence, the very essence of our own being. This kind of talking with God is more than prayer. It is knowing, the realization of something rather than the asking for something.

This sense of complete union with the Father Within banishes all fear, and it is fear that is always at the bottom of a discouraged mind. But not only does it exclude fear; it awakens positive faith in the wisdom and power of the Father, so that the problems of life can be faced with a cheerful heart. Indeed the real test of the quality of one’s spiritual understanding is just this forthright facing of the issues of life.

The degree of discouragement and worry measures the extent of our doubt as to the power and responsive intelligence of the Father. And conversely, actual faith in, and knowledge of, the Divine Law results in a happy and aggressive personality, which will not be downed by appearances, whatever they may be.

It requires time to establish in one’s heart the habit of communion with the Father. This [118] is not because the Father is slow to respond, but because the habit of looking at life from the material point of view has made us insensible to the powers of the spiritual world. For the thoughts of the Father, like the thoughts of our own objective mentalities, are the action or vibration of the Inner Mind.

The reason the inner Voice is “still” is that the vibration of the Mind of the Father Within is not in terms of the human voice, but is the movement of consciousness, silent as a dream, and clear and intelligible to the ones who have learned the language of the soul. That is why it is so necessary to spend time in the Silence until the language is learned, when communion becomes as direct and simple as speech between friends.

Always, in the face of difficulty or trouble of any kind, the Voice of the Father gives encouragement and inspires us to go on. For he sees beyond the temporary condition and knows the good things that await the soul upon its pathway through life. Thus in time we are able to prove the Law in our own experience and go on in the strength that comes from personal knowledge that it works in us and through us and for us, when we work with it.

Chapter 12

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Making Your Self the Master
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