LANDSLIDES and other obstacles have plagued the rescue efforts of those trying to help victims of the recent Iranian earthquake and severe aftershocks. And the international effort to assist has had to face and overcome many challenges. Those of us who care about our fellow humans seem left on the sidelines, unable to do very much to help. But being physically present is only one aspect of helping. There are other ways -- sending money for relief efforts is one -- to make a difference. Yet sometimes even these don't always enable us to give something from the heart. When we long to give something deeper, prayer is a method that transcends local, national, international boundaries. It needs no passport and cannot be excluded because of its nationality. It fears no terrorist threats.
That we don't need to be physically present to pray for someone is brought out very clearly in John's account of a healing Christ Jesus brought about. A man whose son was very ill came to the Master and asked him to heal the child. The Bible tells us that Jesus replied, ``Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.'' Persisting, the man again asked Jesus to come, and this time Jesus said, ``Go thy way; thy son liveth.'' The man was willing to believe the Master's words and went home. Even before he got there, he was met by his servants, who told him that the boy was indeed well.
Jesus was always conscious of God as being ever present. There was never any doubt in his mind that God heard his prayers and responded to them. This spiritual fact gives us a basis for our own prayers to help people in trouble. We know from the Bible's account that we don't need to be in Iran in order for our prayers to have an effect.
Why is this so? Because God is infinite and knows no boundaries. Our prayers, wherever we are, will help if we are willing to trust God's love and law to operate and to heal. In our prayers for people struggling with disaster, we can specifically rely on the fact that God is infinite good and that therefore there can be no boundaries to His presence. Intelligence, wisdom, creativity, and alertness are qualities of God, and they are essential to the rescue effort. So we can pray to know that they are expressed by His man -- the true being of all who seek to help their fellowman. Love, strength, tenderness, and patience are also qualities that are needed. Each of these must be present because infinite Love, God, is with us everywhere.
As we pray, affirming the presence of God and of these spiritual qualities, we will be helping to bring to light the human evidence of God's care. To me, prayer to see the presence of Love seems important in times of disaster because Love antidotes fear. You can prove this for yourself by simply trying to feel fear and love at the same time. It isn't really possible, is it? To love in this deeply spiritual way is to drive out the fear brought on by tragedies. This love is not just a human emotion but expresses something of the richness of the infinite Love that is all-powerful God. And it is the love for mankind that Christ Jesus so very fully expressed.
One thing we can be sure of from the outset is that a God who is totally good, who is known as Love, would never send evil to anyone. Speaking of the nature of evil, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Unity of Good: ``God is not the so-called ego of evil; for evil, as a supposition, is the father of itself, -- of the material world, the flesh, and the devil. From this falsehood arise the self-destroying elements of this world, its unkind forces, its tempests, lightnings, earthquakes, poisons, rabid beasts, fatal reptiles, and mortals.''
Hatred, fear, anger, and other feelings grow out of the belief that we are material beings subject to chance and death. They have to give way before the perfect Love that is God. And Love, which is pure and available to all, is ours -- and everyone's -- because we are inseparable from our divine Father. This Father -- by whatever name we as individual believers call Him -- is not one who hates, who has favorites, or who is changeable. Love, God, drives out evil.
Just looking around at the material world, we can see that it seems bent on decay of one sort or another. But as we spiritualize our thought of creation, we also begin to understand that the material scene is not a reality but more like a dust cloud blocking our eyes from seeing the real view. God's creation is actually fully spiritual, and the man of His creating is spiritual too.
This creation is under the control of God alone, and as we understand and live in obedience to God, we begin to see this more clearly. Even if we have difficulty feeling the presence of this Love, we can include it in our prayer. That may seem like a small step, but it will help to renew our courage and trust in God.
Disasters are often times for prayer on behalf of our fellow beings because the scope of the disaster is such that we have no recourse but to turn to God and trust divine mercy to come to the rescue. This rescue may take the form of international assistance, exceptional heroism on the part of local people, or some other means. But every time someone reaches out in prayer, the hands of the workers are strengthened and the presence of God is expressed. BIBLE VERSE: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed.
Psalms 46:1, 2