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Facing the foe with courage

From the March 23, 2015 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


In the first book of Samuel in the Bible, there is a stirring story of courage involving a giant warrior and a youth armed with only a sling and five stones (see chap. 17). The warrior, called Goliath, was representing the Philistine army and came to meet in combat with one soldier from the army of the Israelites, led by King Saul. Goliath was huge and fearsome. Everyone cowered before him. If might were measured by physical strength alone, then it was no battle, because the Philistines clearly had the upper hand. The Israelite army were completely intimidated by the tactics of the Philistines, believing they were defenseless against such might.

But there was a youth in the Israelite camp who saw things differently. He wasn’t impressed by Goliath’s gigantic proportions or his reported invincibility. David already had proof that God is the greatest power, and that in any circumstance He can bring deliverance (see I Samuel 17:34–37). With this confidence, David nominated himself to meet in combat with Goliath. He was absolutely certain that God would give him what he needed to deliver the Israelites from harm.

In turning to God in prayer, I was essentially running forward to meet the Goliath of intimidation and impasse.

Several years ago, I had a work assignment that required flying once a week from my country town to the capital city, fulfilling a day of teaching duties, and flying home again in the late afternoon. One afternoon, just after I had checked my bag for the return flight, an announcement came over the intercom instructing everyone to evacuate the airport immediately. Hundreds of people were guided to an open area that was considered safe. 

We learned that a man had hijacked a helicopter with his two young children on board. He had been involved in a custody battle and planned to take his children to Japan. The helicopter pilot landed in the capital city I was in to refuel, at which point the assailant emptied a tank truck full of jet fuel onto the tarmac, fired a gun in the air, and threatened to set the fuel on fire. He caused a complete shutdown of the airport. From our vantage point, we watched as emergency services, including the police, were trucked in. Time passed, and the situation didn’t change.

For a while the dramatic scene was fascinating, almost mesmerizing. But then evening began to set in, and along with that, restlessness and irritation among the detained travelers. At that point, I started to pray—something I should have done at the outset. I took myself away from the crowd with its endless chatter and speculation to a place where I could be quiet. I took refuge in what I call a “thought closet,” where I could listen to God without interruption. 

In turning to God in prayer, I was essentially running forward to meet the Goliath of intimidation and impasse. In this sanctuary, I saw a completely different picture from the one that had earlier paraded so impressively before my eyes. I realized that this man was loved and lovable, because he was God’s child like everyone else. Instead of being held captive by fear that this man was a danger to himself and others, I recognized his true selfhood and felt great compassion for him. I saw that, despite the pain and suffering he apparently had been going through, he could be receptive to wisdom, reason, and common sense. He didn’t have to be a Goliath, using intimidating tactics or brute force to get his way.

Not long after that, news reached us that the man had been taken into custody. No one had been harmed, the man’s children were safe, and we were allowed to go back into the airport. Although most flights had been cancelled for the night, mine wasn’t, and I made it home in time to honor a commitment to perform in a concert that night. All the drama had dissolved.

Prayer acknowledges God’s presence in any situation, replacing fear with calm, restoring harmony to disruptive situations, revealing Truth to receptive hearts, and showing us that all men are beloved of God. It brings to the troubled thought lucidity and reason. 

Mary Baker Eddy writes in Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896: “The Psalmist saith: ‘He shall give His angels charge over thee.’ God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for tomorrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment.… This sweet assurance is the ‘Peace, be still’ to all human fears, to suffering of every sort” (pp. 306–307). 

When the young David confronted Goliath, he refused to be taken hostage by the appearance of power and malicious intent. Instead, with clarity and purpose, he calmly collected stones for his sling, which proved to be the only ammunition he needed. As in David’s case, we too will find that God has equipped us perfectly, and that we can use good judgment against any foe, be courageous, and feel certain that the Lord is with us, protecting us from harm.

Divine Mind supports us as we face down any fearsome suggestion. We are supplied by Love with whatever will enable us to move forward and confront the foe.

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