Deliver me from “the violent man”
God is the only power; therefore, evil has no power to create a violent person.
With the marked increase in violent acts around the world, many are asking how they can keep themselves and their loved ones from being victims of intentional or random acts of violence. Applying in a practical way the knowledge of our God-given exemption from evil was important in my work as a youth corrections counselor.
Once, as the advisor of a college student intern, I was observing her interaction with a client in an adjoining room. Suddenly, he pulled a knife and threatened her. I reached out to God, divine Mind, as I immediately went in and placed myself between them. I affirmed in prayer that Mind is governing its entire creation and that there is nothing and no one outside of or separated from this divine authority. I felt a deep confidence in God’s all-encompassing presence and power.
No one is outside of or separated from God’s divine authority.
As I faced the young man, I quietly said, “You will not hurt her or anyone else. You don’t want to do that. Give me the knife.” After a long pause, he handed me the knife, and I left with the intern. The understanding of God as omnipresent, infinite Love had ruled fear out of me. And although initially shaken, the intern assured me that she was OK. (She later confirmed that she remained entirely free from any post-traumatic issues in the weeks and months afterward.)
When I went back to the room, the young client’s stance was still combative. But I continued to feel a deep peace, and I calmly completed the work intended for that session. Though I added a penalty for his behavior, he accepted it and, for the first time, fulfilled a penalty’s terms without complaint.
Over the following months of working with the young man, I prayed daily to understand that, as spiritual ideas of divine Mind, we are motivated only by this infinite Mind, the only Mind there is. God’s kingdom, where Mind is supreme, is “within” each of us (see Luke 17:21). God is the only power; therefore, evil has no power to take root in consciousness—no ability to create a violent person. The absolute sovereignty of God, good, gives us the unassailable ability to overcome every evil that confronts us.
Within 18 months, I witnessed a big change in this fellow. He went from being known among the various law enforcement and youth correction agencies as a guaranteed repeat offender to being described by his job supervisor as an outstanding role model. Eventually, he apologized for his habitual belligerent and aggressive behavior. It was inspiring to see his growth in grace, respect, and gratitude.
No one needs to suffer from either violence or the fear of it. Although human defenses cannot provide certain protection against crime or remove the anxiety about becoming a victim, we can find sure security in God. We can pray, “Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man” (Psalms 140:1). This petition can be a vital first step toward freedom from both terrorism and terror.
Christian Science, the Science that explains God’s protecting and sustaining power, shows us how to safeguard ourselves and others by understanding God’s ever-presence and omnipotence. The Bible provides many examples of individuals finding safety through reliance on God. For instance, Jesus showed God’s overarching power when he walked unharmed through an angry crowd that wanted to throw him off a cliff (see Luke 4:28–30). He took a consistent stand against “the violent man” and, after his crucifixion, proved the ultimate powerlessness of evil through his resurrection and ascension.
Christian Science teaches how to resist the fear of evil, which is often ratcheted up by dwelling on troubling thoughts, past experiences, and images circulated in the news. It also shows us how to overcome worry and panic by relying on the spiritual counter fact—the truth that God is omnipotent Mind and the source of all being.
God is also Spirit, so God’s creation (including all of us) is spiritual, made in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27) and governed by God’s law. Therefore, we include such qualities as integrity, wisdom, safety, and affection. And as eternal Love, God creates and blesses each of His children as loving, loved, and lovable. This divine view of God and man acts as a dependable defense and a regenerative influence in our lives. It protects us even when we may be unaware of danger. Spiritual understanding also reforms society and can lift the burden of criminal thinking from would-be victimizers.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of the divine Science taught and practiced by Jesus, assures us: “Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 210).
As we persistently identify ourselves and others as God’s spiritual likeness and strive to express the qualities of forgiveness, mercy, and love, we will increasingly experience God’s promise “I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible” (Jeremiah 15:21).