Can Tragedy Be Healed?

FOR a number of years I anticipated military service in Vietnam. I didn't want to go to war; I didn't want to see others needlessly injured or killed. My reluctance became even more intense when a friend was killed in that conflict. As it turned out, I never was assigned to that area, but my service as a chaplain dramatically showed me the brutal aftermath of war. One man's experience is somewhat typical of what I witnessed. His wartime service had left him profoundly affected, yet unable to articulate the hurt, desperation, and fear he felt. When conflict in his home brought him under arrest, he came into contact with me as a chaplain. He really was not a bad person. The sad incident that had led to his arrest was more tragic than criminal.

At first I was deeply disturbed at what he had done. But as we prayed together and talked about his mental struggles and the demons he wrestled with, something quite different emerged. Previously unseen thoughtfulness and genuine sorrow for what he had done in desperation broke through. And at the same time he began to understand more fully his relationship to God. While it nearly defies description to explain how such spirituality can outweigh the horrors of war, I know that it can happen. I saw it happen in this man.

This is similar, I think, to what witnesses must have experienced when they saw Christ Jesus heal. Descriptions can hardly express the reality of God that can visibly break through into a person's life. Once Jesus responded to opposition to his healing work by explaining what a healing meant, saying, ``If I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.''1 And then he referred to a ``strong man'' that had to be overcome. Perhaps one example of such a ``strong man'' is the dark human belief that we can somehow get outside of God's care and saving power. I can't imagine a briefer way to describe the spiritual ignorance and brutality of war.

We don't, however, need to surrender to such tragedy or simply concede that there is some unredeemable evil in humanity that can't be resisted and overcome through a deep spiritual understanding of man as God's child. The central teaching of Christian Science -- and it's rooted in New Testament Christianity -- is that God can't be deprived of His children any more than we can be deprived of God's direction or care.

The Apostle Paul said that nothing can ``separate us from the love of God.''2 And the healing works of Christian Science are based on this fundamental Biblical truth, that God, divine Love, can't be separated from His cre the kingdom of God is come upon you.''1 And then he referred to a ``strong man'' that had to be overcome. Perhaps one example of such a ``strong man'' is the dark human belief that we can somehow get outside of God's care and saving power. I can't imagine a briefer way to describe the spiritual ignorance and brutality of war.

We don't, however, need to surrender to such tragedy or simply concede that there is some unredeemable evil in humanity that can't be resisted and overcome through a deep spiritual understanding of man as God's child. The central teaching of Christian Science -- and it's rooted in New Testament Christianity -- is that God can't be deprived of His children any more than we can be deprived of God's direction or care. standing that can undergird the prayer of anyone, no matter how brutal human conditions are. Whether or not nations are at war in any political or military sense, there is a profound victory to be won in the spiritual life of each of us. It lies in the fact that man really is God's spiritual child. And human circumstances must yield to divine Love's transforming power and grace.

1Luke 11:20. 2Romans 8:39. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 304.

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