Letter to a young mother


We asked, “How are you praying about the Israel-Hamas war?” And you have responded with insights and fruitage as a result of those prayers. Thank you! Today, Bethany Taylor shares her response to one of the news stories she heard. Please come back tomorrow for a collection of more of the heartfelt responses we have received.

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I was watching the news about Israel and Hamas. You came on talking about trying to keep your baby quiet so you wouldn’t be detected by the attackers and how your husband had been taken as a hostage. My heart went out to you, and in a sincere desire to help, I humbly reached out to God and asked how I could help, how I could pray right then. The answer came in the form of a hymn written by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. 

I began singing and praying the words: “O gentle presence, peace and joy and power; / O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour” (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 207). I felt assured of God’s ever-present peace, joy, and omnipotent power right then and there for you and all who are feeling alone and afraid, even when in the midst of terror and war. 

As a young mother, I was widowed and found myself raising my three-year-old son on my own. I leaned on God’s mothering and fathering my son and me, and I know we can confidently rely on that same love here and now. As a recent Sentinel Watch podcast put it, “Love hasn’t left this home” (Tony Lobl, “Love hasn’t left this home,” cssentinel.com, September 11, 2023). 

Love hasn’t left Israel, or Gaza, or Ukraine, or any other area experiencing war and conflict. Even though I am just one individual in a country far removed from these places, I actively pray to know that God’s love is always present, dependable, steadfast, all-powerful. “Thou Love that guards the nestling’s faltering flight! / Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight,” that hymn says. We are each God’s nestlings, whether struggling with a small problem or the horror of war. We can feel and reflect God’s mothering love here and now.

Another line in this hymn, which I have known and loved for decades, is “Love is our refuge; only with mine eye / Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall.” But as long as I have been singing this hymn, this was the first time I understood that Mrs. Eddy was saying that we can stay conscious of the spiritual fact that divine Love, God, is our—and everyone’s—ever-present refuge. When, instead, we begin to examine the snares, pits, falls, or material circumstances, that is when we feel immobilized by fear, and illness, conflict, hatred, and evil seem so much larger than Love’s ability to handle them. But that isn’t so. As we learn in Christian Science, God is All-in-all. 

“His habitation high is here, and nigh, / His arm encircles me, and mine, and all,” the hymn assures. And I am thinking, in quiet prayer, just how it embraces you and all the mothers in the region.

Bethany Taylor

To find more articles to support a continuing cycle of shoulder-to-shoulder prayer and shared inspiration during the Israel-Hamas war, please explore a collection called Prayers for peace amid conflict.

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