There is a self-righteous extremism that afflicts the world today. We see it in the assassination of world leaders; we also see it in the intolerance that marks people's attitudes toward one another. In too many cases, once one believes his or her cause is right, the ends justify the means.
It isn't hard to feel the world's ache for relief, for peace. There is a deep desire for a respite from the onslaught of violence around the world – both in word and deed. One of the writers of a psalm in the Bible notes how his bed was soaked with tears; one can understand the frustration, pain, and anguish that he felt. This helps us feel the urgency that lies behind the Bible's proclamation we hear so often this time of year: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God" (Isa. 40:1). This demand is genuine, a call by divine Love itself for healing. Divine Love's call for comfort – for a recognition that its aid is at hand, that its rule and order should take hold in consciousness – demands to be heeded.
When Herod authorized the beheading of John the Baptist, people sought out Jesus for comfort and reassurance. He helped them see that despite political intolerance and cruelty, one can be conscious of the steadfast, sure presence of God. Jesus' teaching began with the proclamation: "The kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15). It wasn't evident in Herod's court, but Jesus was able to give those around him a sense of God at hand, God with them, God supporting and saving them – even in this political environment.
It is notable that God's saving, healing, comforting message was not absent at this great time of need. The ability of God to reach human hearts was not curtailed by evil events or the political intolerance of the time. It is not absent today. This Christly gift, this Christ-like sense of God at hand penetrates the grief and anger and despair felt by so many. It assures people that things are not hopeless. It impels people to go forward with trust in God.
When one is faced with dreadful events, one can drop down into the pit of despair or one can turn to God for guidance and help. One psalm makes this point sharply: "If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there" (Ps. 139:8). So, even if life appears hellish, it is still possible to become conscious of God with us; God guiding us; God saving us. Divine Love is power. It is not overcome by evil. A clear sense and conviction of the power and presence of divine Love overcomes evil. If we seek this out, we can find it, and then feel the strength to go forward.
The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrestled deeply with the issues of good and evil. Her study of the Bible and her practice of Christian healing led her to give this counsel in her key work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, – self-will, self-justification, and self-love, – which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death" (p. 242). Later in the same work she assured readers, "Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you" (p. 571).
The more one seeks for the consciousness of God at hand, God with us, God guiding us, the more we are washed of the emotions that would keep us fearful, frustrated, angry, and despairing. Feeling the assurance that divine Love gives to us all, our prayers are effective in helping others. They bring us into the embrace of the comfort that the prophet said we all need. "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God…. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (Isa. 40:1, 5).
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18