All over the world, parents are feeling a heightened concern about the safety of their children. Media reports about the loss or kidnapping of a child hit at one of the primal fears that many parents wrestle with at one point or another. Because of all the recent publicity, I've run into many parents who have been struggling with the "what if's."
The trouble with the what if's is that they inevitably leave us feeling worse. The what if's don't provide answers; they simply magnify fear. We don't think or act as effectively as we could when fear is running the game. What we need is a good dose of common sense, practical wisdom, and a growing sense of what we can depend on for safety and protection.
I can remember my mom instructing me never to get into a car with a stranger and never to accept food from someone I didn't know. On the long walk to and from school, I knew where I could go if I needed help. And certainly if an adult had behaved strangely, I would have reported that to my teacher or parents. At the same time, when I was young, my parents closely supervised my activities and knew where I was and whom I was with.
This normal care is still pretty universal today. In addition, some parents are discovering that there is a spiritual dimension to this care that is practical and important as well. They can find strong reassurance in the 91st Psalm. It's filled with messages of God's watchful care, and of the safety that comes to us when we are conscious of divine Love's power and presence with us and our children. Taking time to acknowledge this and to share these ideas with children is an important part of many people's day. Lots of parents feel this spiritual feeding and clothing is as important as being sure that their children have eaten their breakfast and are dressed right for the day.
Recently I came across this passage from Jesus, and it was immediately reassuring. He said: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:27-29).
One of the problems with the media is that it can leave us feeling that evil is everywhere. But that is simply not the case. While even one child's disappearance is too much, these events are fortunately rare. One of the great strengths of the Bible is that it records examples of people who learned that God's power overcomes and destroys evil. One of the writers of the Bible discovered this and declared, "The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore" (Ps. 121:8).
This understanding of God's reliability and power is available to everyone. This power is totally good and works only to bring out good. As we acknowledge these kinds of spiritual facts, they become an increasingly powerful force in our lives. They bless us and our children every child in the world.
In a short note, the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: "How blessed it is to think of you as 'beneath the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,' safe in His strength, building on His foundation, and covered from the devourer by divine protection and affection. Always bear in mind that His presence, power, and peace meet all human needs and reflect all bliss" ("Miscellaneous Writings, 18831896," pg. 263).
I haven't found this kind of reassurance in the press yet though reporters could as easily ask parents what they are finding helpful rather than just recording their fears. But the press does alert us to things that we need to be aware of. And parents, as they talk together at the playground or as they watch their kids playing T-ball or splashing in the pool, can share ideas that help and heal.
He shall cover thee with
his feathers, and under
his wings shalt thou trust.