They dig bare-fisted through the rubble. They dig throughout the day and night, beyond all reason they dig with a passion and a determination I can only guess at as photos of them take over my computer screen. They dig for their children and their mothers. They dig barehanded because, in many instances, no one else is there to help, and no equipment is available to do the job more quickly. They dig for survivors of this terrible 7.7 earthquake that rocked a large swath of Asia, killing tens of thousands in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
And, on occasion, as they dig they uncover a life. Here and there, amid all the tragedy, emerges a story with a life-saving outcome. Shoveling through an avalanche of heartache and misery, they sometimes get there in time. Yes, it is far too rare. But it is happening. And, I think, those instances hint at a powerful spiritual truth sustaining them as they dig.
Would I, if I were there, kneel next to them, dig barehanded myself? Yes, in a heartbeat, I answer to myself. Then I look at my hands, which today as on most days face nothing more strenuous than pounding a computer keyboard, and I realize how quickly I'd be useless.
But I refuse to uselessly wring my hands on the sidelines, contributing nothing but sorrow. So, I put myself to use, digging in another way. I mentally dig in to grasp that powerful spiritual truth of the Almighty's presence. I reach deep, to grip a rock-like conviction that He's here.
Too many times to doubt, I've seen His hands at work reshaping an outcome, turning aside a tide of heartache, carrying comfort and even healing to those who are hanging on, as well as those who are lost in grief. Too many times to wonder if He is real, I've seen proof of His love at work. That's happened even in earthquakes my family and I have lived through, suffering some minor damage along the way, but living through OK.
I recall a Bible passage. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear" (Isa. 59:1). Can I begin to glimpse that the whole scene is in His hands? Will that glimpse make a healing difference? Yes.
I recall different times when Christ Jesus brought the power of God to bear - to still a tempest, for instance. To me, these are proofs that His hands outreach the wrath of a tempest, a hurricane, or an earthquake. These miracles of Jesus don't really set aside the true order of things. They reveal the true order, in which a totally good God is totally in control, tolerating no harm to His children anywhere. Ever. Bringing His harmony to light with the consistency and certainty of an unvarying law or science.
I know this conviction flies in the face of mountains of tragic evidence. But sticking with it brings closer the day when prayer isn't just in the aftermath of earthquakes. Sticking with this conviction brings closer the day when it's so obvious that the earth is safely in His hands that tragic events occur less and less.
I'm convinced there's a law, a science that grounds this possibility. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy once defined Christian Science as "God's right hand grasping the universe, - all time, space, immortality, thought, extension, cause, and effect; constituting and governing all identity, individuality, law, and power" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," pp. 364).
I begin to think of His hands as the law or Science of Christ, holding everything in His universe in its right place. Then the whole resolve of individually digging in through prayer makes more sense. I see more clearly that I can make a difference. Someday, prevention will be possible. For now, I'm grateful there's a practical spiritual step that forwards comfort and healing to those most in need.