My husband passed away on a Tuesday; I went to church on Wednesday and felt comfort there. But by Thursday the confusion and shock were overwhelming, and I was angry with God.
At the time, I was teaching the youngest Sunday School class, and the class included my 4-year-old. How could I find a true enough conviction of God's love to teach him honestly at this incredibly confusing and tragic moment? I concluded that I would never teach his class again.
But I felt impelled to go ahead.
Sunday morning I awoke with the story of Jonah and the whale on my mind. This Bible account tells of Jonah being thrown into the sea and being rescued by a very big fish that swallowed him whole and kept him alive. The fish spat him out on dry land, and Jonah went on to fulfill an important mission for God.
Jonah had been thrown overboard from the ship because it appeared that his disobedience was jeopardizing a whole crew of men. A storm was threatening to destroy the ship. The sailors tried everything they could to control it. Finally they agreed to Jonah's request that they toss him overboard. The storm instantly ceased.
At first I dismissed the thought of teaching this story. The children knew it so well, and I couldn't feel a connection to it. But I found myself thinking about the sailors and what a horrible dilemma confronted them as they faced the fierceness of the storm.
Then it hit me. The sailors probably never knew about the whale. When the sea was instantly calmed, the Bible doesn't indicate that Jonah was anywhere to be seen. I suddenly realized that the sailors probably didn't have a clue how Jonah had been rescued.
In quiet humility it was clear to me that if a willful, disobedient man was worthy of God's help, then surely there was an equally precious and useful means of saving my good husband, even though none of us saw it. I had to trust my husband's close relationship to God, even more than I believed the evidence of tragedy.
I hold on to the thought that the saving action of God was, and is, in operation. Even though it's hard to see or imagine, the omnipresence and omnipotence of God secures everyone's relationship in a way that no one can fall out of His care.
As a way of belittling God, evil says that the danger is greater than the saving action of God. But the saving power of the Christ shows that the safety is greater than the danger.
We understand the saving power of God when we cherish each individual's relation to God. Each individual is held and cherished by his or her Maker, divine Love. To God, individuals are not disposable, and we cannot let anything displace our faith in our indestructible relation to God.
Something bigger than death is operating even in the face of tragedy. In fact, the reality of God's love is even bigger than the five senses can record. Every person who looks like a victim must have had a "whale," even though we didn't see it. Each of us is being held and supported by divine Love.
In our family's experience the grace and gentleness of God has dominated the last decade and a half. My children and I have moved past the grief and found the certainty of our own life purpose within the context of the constancy of God's love.
The relations of God and man, divine Principle and idea,
are indestructible in Science;
and Science knows no lapse from nor return to harmony,
but holds the divine order or spiritual law, in which God
and all that He creates
are perfect and eternal,
to have remained unchanged
in its eternal history.
Mary Baker Eddy
(Founder of Christian Science)