The tragic kidnapping and murder of The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl - gruesomely caught on videotape - is a chilling reminder to the West in general and journalists in particular of how much healing is still needed in that region, and in our own hearts as well. It signals a profound and ongoing need to cloak every journalist - and every aid worker and every soldier and every diplomat - in that corner of the world with some kind of protective veil.
Despite appearances, though, neither this tragedy nor other recent heart-wrenching events signal that hatred has somehow permanently inched higher than humanity, revenge forever overpowered reason, or danger drowned the hope for safety.
The Bible reminds us of divine facts that often fly in the face of sad evidence. And those divine facts have a way of turning the tide of hatred and revenge, of danger and even of disaster. Those divine facts have a long history of providing a protective veil to individuals in the most menacing of circumstances. Scriptural assurances from a host of Bible characters reiterate that safety is more real than its opposite.
Why? Theirs was hardly a kinder, gentler era. Nor were they simply naive when they acknowledged a divine presence powerful enough to usher in safety and deliverance. It was an age when captives were thrown to dens of lions or into fiery furnaces, marched up hills to be thrown off cliffs or ordered killed rather than given a chance to escape during, say, a shipwreck. Yet in every one of those instances - the lions' den, the fiery furnace, the precipice, and the shipwreck - one or more Bible figures found safety where appearances said there was none.
These were individuals of different religious faith. Some were Christian, some were not. Yet all had access to what might be termed a divine law of safety, provided by the Almighty to all His offspring. Consider this reminder from the Old Testament: "The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders" (Deut. 33:12). Who is the beloved of the Lord? You. Me. Each one of us, regardless of denominational affiliation. What is that covering that shelters us all day long? The spiritual fact that God's nature and power are always benign, always harmonious, always serving as a protective veil large enough to cover all comers. Where is that dwelling place, metaphorically described as between God's shoulders? In consciousness. Our consciousness of His nature as pure Love helps us avail ourselves of His divine law of safety. It helps us see others - journalists, aid workers, and so on - as under that protective veil, within that law of safety. Such consciousness is a practical help.
When a tragedy like the murder of Daniel Pearl leaps to the headlines, it may feel like the Almighty's presence and His protecting power are chimerical. It may seem as if those biblical assurances are illusory. Yet that's the moment we most need to remind ourselves of the realness of Love and its divine power. That's the moment to refuse to slip toward cynicism and the revenge that cynicism too often ignites.
Again and again, in Bible times and today, God's law of safety has thwarted violent intent. Every tragic bit of evidence to the contrary underscores our need to perceive more deeply that God's law is still in power. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy once wrote: "Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions' den, and Paul proved the viper to be harmless. All of God's creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible. A realization of this grand verity was a source of strength to the ancient worthies" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 514).
Divine Love is in control with the certainty of law. This control is unequivocally safe. Like the ancient worthies, we can help when we realize this fact.
Hold thou me up,
and I shall be safe.