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Praying for victims of tragedy

From the February 26, 1996 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

The compassion Mary Baker Eddy felt for those in need and the breadth of her love for humanity are brought out in her statement "From the interior of Africa to the utmost parts of the earth, the sick and the heavenly homesick or hungry hearts are calling on me for help, and I am helping them" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 147).

Today, as news of tragedy in many parts of the world reaches us, we can pray with the same compassion and the same expectation that prayer is a direct and effective help. When we acknowledge man's spiritual and unbreakable relation with divine Love, we are calling on the divine law of Love that fully meets individual human needs.

God makes and maintains man as His own image and likeness. This fact is brought to light through Christ, the manifestation of God in human consciousness, rather than through the physical senses. Christ reveals to us the love of God for man and shows us that material circumstances that result in injury, death, sorrow, and loss never are the product of God's will.

The realization of these spiritual facts brings healing, even when there appears to have been irreparable loss. No one can ever truly be separated from God, Life and Love. St. Paul was listening humbly to God, not to the physical senses, when he wrote, "I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38, 39). Knowing this brings comfort, healing, and progress to those who face tragedy.

Since God's ever-present care of man is not always apparent when tragedy strikes, it must be brought to light through prayer that discerns the reality and power of divine Life and Love. This reality is increasingly recognized as a material sense of existence is understood to be the mistaken belief in life and intelligence apart from God. In the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy states, "As a cloud hides the sun it cannot extinguish, so false belief silences for a while the voice of immutable harmony, but false belief cannot destroy Science armed with faith, hope, and fruition" (p. 298).

Circumstances that result in injury, death, sorrow, and loss never are the product of God's will.

Love can communicate its own presence and care to someone who has lost a loved family member. Our responsibility is faithfully to witness the presence of Love with every individual in need. We can also acknowledge Love's omnipotence in effacing the seeming power of ignorance, hate, or disease. So-called material forces have no mandate to alter and destroy lives. The effects of death and separation can finally be erased as we perceive that Love alone cares for all individuals, including those who have passed out of our sight. Divine Love fills the void in our lives and reveals progressive steps for those who are left to rebuild.

Sooner or later everyone must learn that there is, in reality, no existence apart from God and no real happiness apart from that which is derived from God. But even people who are now far from sharing this perspective can benefit through the prayers of those who are conscious of Love's purpose to bless and redeem mankind.

To know that everyone in his or her true identity is actually spiritual and created by God helps reveal man's completeness as His idea. This truth covers every human need. In this completeness is found peace that cannot be shattered or even touched by material circumstances. The completeness of man as Love's idea shows itself in our ability to love unconditionally. This love from God sustains and regenerates. It enables us to forgive where forgiveness is needed and to overcome hatred and its effects.

One person who was interviewed by a newspaper reporter at the scene of a bombing said he couldn't cope with someone's comment that he had been protected by God, since so many other people had been killed. Does God save some and not others? It's important to think through this issue and to realize that God is never the source of the apparent injustice a tragic scene presents.

It is always right and natural for each one of us to experience help, healing, and protection from God. And it is always unjust when someone is injured or killed. But this injustice is not caused by God, nor is it caused by the perpetrators of tragedy or other hardship. It stems from a material view of existence, which leads people to conclude that divine aid is unavailable, sporadic, partial, or preempted by forces beyond God's control. These false beliefs must be destroyed by the divine Mind through prayer that yields to this Mind and understands the allness and power of God.

Much patience, progress, and love are required of those who undertake this prayer. It involves demonstrating one's relation to God in daily life. As we express a consistent commitment to expressing man's spiritual identity, and an impartial love for our fellow humans, we can see the power and presence of divine Love brought to bear on the lives of those in need.

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