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God—in the midst of you!

From the August 15, 1994 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

The Bible is full of God's precious promises to us all. Here's one: God is "in the midst of thee." Think of that! Right here (where you are), right now (when you need Him) is God in all His tenderness, mightiness, goodness—so pure, so sure "thou shalt not see evil any more," as the Bible passage goes on to say (see Zeph. 3:15–17).

You can get to know and feel this presence of God's power, and the power of His presence, so tangibly, surely, that whatever in your experience denies it—fear, hate, anxiety, envy, depression, stress, immorality, illness—must fall away.

All Christ Jesus' healing works proved God is in our midst and is mighty—God who is Love, supreme over hate; God who is Life, supreme over death; God who is Spirit, supreme over every material condition. The Master kept his thought continually alert to God's omnipotent love at hand; and his prayer for his followers for all time was that we be one with God, as he was (see John 17:11).

Even if we've never known of God's omnipotent, ever-present love until this minute, it's never too late to start! Hagar, an Egyptian woman in the Bible, learned this. Egyptians at that time didn't believe in one omnipotent God. When push came to shove—when Hagar found herself suddenly homeless, jobless, stranded in the desert with a young son to care for, and no food or water—first she hid her son. (She must have thought, "I can't bear to watch him die; what other choice do I have?") Then in desperation and tears she turned to God, and He made Himself known to her. Here's the thought that came to her: "Fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is" (Gen. 21:17).

You might be thinking it was too late for prayer; the damage was done. But I knew it's never too late to pray.

He did, too! Hagar opened her eyes and saw a well of water. It had been there all along, but self-pity and fear had so blinded her she hadn't seen it. Yet God—in the midst of her—showed her His goodness at hand. I can't think of a more tangible way than water in a desert, can you? His caring for them didn't stop with the well, either. He caused them to prosper; and Hagar's son, Ishmael, grew up and became the father of the Arab people.

I know a modern-day Hagar, too—a young woman I met recently in a New York City McDonald's. She told me how she'd found herself suddenly jobless, homeless, disowned by her family. She lived on the streets of New York for a year and a half, and soon was addicted to crack cocaine. Then one night in the depths of despair—cold, sick, feeling totally unloved— she, like Hagar, felt her only choice was to die. "But right when I gave up," she put it, "something inside me told me I could make it." She stood up straight and added, "And here I am! I've been clean [drug-free] since that night nine months ago. I have a room and a job, and I'm going up."

I thanked her for sharing that with me, then asked, "That 'something inside you'—do you think that was God's quiet voice letting you know how precious you are to Him?"

She thought a minute, then answered, "I guess so. I don't really know about God. But this much I knew—it had to be something lots bigger than me."

Haven't you sometime in your life experienced, when you needed it, this "something lots bigger" than you—God's great love—until you felt strengthened, protected, comforted? I know I have.

Like the time I was in an automobile accident. Our two children were with me. I remember feeling God's love right there in the midst of us at the moment of impact. My head broke the windshield, but I didn't have a scratch. However, our daughter's leg was broken. A policeman came quickly. "Amazing you weren't hurt more," he said. He was kind, helpful, and took us to a hospital emergency room for a cast for her leg.

I thanked God for being "in the midst" of us every minute, a very present help. I also knew this from my study of Christian Science: God, being all good and causing all, He couldn't possibly cause or know such a thing as an accident; so it couldn't really be true (see Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 424).

Now, it's hard to see accidents aren't real, especially when you seem to have just had one! Yet I knew this was the very truth (based on the Biblical premise and promise that God is All) undergirding my prayer. And that by my holding tightly to what I knew of Him, God would lift me mentally to see His perfect government (in spite of material evidence to the contrary). This would enable me to overcome the apparent effects of accident.

Two of God's promises in the Bible I'd memorized in Sunday School when I was a little girl came to me: "I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee" (Isa. 41:13). And, for our daughter: "God is in the midst of her; ... God shall help her, and that right early" (Ps. 46:5). I pondered these all the way to the hospital.

When we got there, an X-ray was taken. The doctor told me her leg was broken twice and badly twisted. She'd need to be anesthetized to set it. He also feared internal injuries and bleeding and wanted to keep her in the hospital at least twenty-four hours.

That next hour and a half the kids and I were put in a little room all by ourselves to wait for a surgeon to set the leg. We were so close to God—feeling and trusting His love, which we knew was there in the midst of us. Those little kids were brave, not at all scared. Calm, not upset. We sang—as Paul and Silas (in the Bible) did in prison. We were singing hymns we'd learned in Sunday School. One was about God's "gentle presence" (see Hymn No. 207 with words by Mrs. Eddy). A passage especially relevant to me at that moment was, "Thou Love that guards the nestling's faltering flight!/Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight." You might be thinking it was too late for that prayer; the damage was done. But I knew it's never too late to pray.

When the surgeon arrived, he told me her leg had set itself better than he could have. He put a cast on it, and we went home. As we left, he said later she'd be in great pain, and offered me a prescription for a pain-killing drug. I thanked him, but said it wasn't necessary. (I knew pain wasn't necessary either.)

All was well until, in the middle of the night, she did wake in pain. I went in to her, and we prayed together silently for a few minutes. I just remember turning my thought the best I could to God, and I caught a glimpse of her unbroken unity with her loving, sustaining Father-Mother God. A few minutes later she said her leg didn't hurt anymore. "I was trying all by myself not to be afraid," she said. "But then I just knew God was right there, so I couldn't be afraid." Wasn't that God in the midst of her, showing her His love—so pure, so sure, neither fear nor pain could resist it? Next morning she went to school and performed her part as the blue fairy in the school play.

A few days later school was out, and she flew to visit her grandparents for a couple of weeks. While she was away I continued to pray each day—to see even more clearly God's perfect government of all His children. When she returned, I felt so certain the healing was complete I took her back to the surgeon to have the cast removed, even though it was at least two weeks before he'd said it could come off. I didn't know what I'd say to him, but felt God-directed. When he saw us, he said, "Let's saw it off." And he did. She didn't need crutches, but walked and ran freely.

God is with you—not far off, and you're His—responsive to Him. Cherish this bond, and you will demonstrate His almighty, gentle presence. Go ahead. See for yourself. And remember, you're not doing it alone. God in the midst of you is showing you every minute just how powerful His love for you is.

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