The first news I read one morning told about how four Washington police officers had been killed in a coffee shop as they prepared to go to work. A blanket of despair descended upon me. All sorts of depressing questions assaulted me: Why do these things happen? What about the families they leave?
Usually I can bounce back pretty quickly. But this time I felt mired in sadness and even hopelessness. What’s more, I had all sorts of questions that seemed to have no answers.
When I’m facing darkness of any kind – physical or emotional – I turn to God in prayer. I’ve found answers from God that I could never have come up with on my own. So I got as quiet as I could and listened to God for His direction.
I prayed with this hymn that reassured me that I would find an answer:
O Lord, I would delight in Thee,
And on Thy care depend;
To Thee in every trouble flee,
My best, my ever Friend.
When all material streams are dried,
Thy fullness is the same;
May I with this be satisfied,
And glory in Thy name.
(John Ryland, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 224)
That night I was able to find some peace and go to sleep.
Another helpful idea that moved me forward was this: I am attracted only to the thoughts and ideas that bless me, and not to thoughts that hurt or confuse me. Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote her major book on spiritual healing, emphasized this same spiritual point: “There is but one real attraction, that of Spirit” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 102). This says to me that I am drawn to thoughts and ideas from Spirit, God, and that Spirit is the real communicator of all that I need to hear. God’s ideas are always good and lead out of darkness and into light. This means my thoughts and feelings can’t be manipulated or hypnotized by dark images, no matter how overwhelming they seem.
A story from the Bible came to mind. Jesus was talking to his disciple Peter and encouraging him to follow Christ. Christ is that healing truth of God expressed by Jesus that is accessible to everyone. But in the midst of their talk Peter started wondering what would happen to another disciple who was following behind them. Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, but what about him? Jesus responded: “If it is my wish ... for him to stay until I come, is that your business, Peter? You must follow me”
(John 21:21–22, J.B. Phillips, “The New Testament in Modern English”).
I saw that that was what I needed to do; I needed to follow Christ. I knew that following Christ means focusing on obeying the two great commandments that Jesus gave – to love God with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others (see Matt. 22:37). Getting mired in darkness and depression, although tempting, would only stop me from following Jesus’ instructions to love more.
As I obeyed these commands, I was able to pray more about the police officers and their families. Listening to God, I caught a glimpse of the spiritual fact that the officers couldn’t be cut off from God’s love, no matter how horrible or violent the act. The police and their families were still in the presence of divine Love, and Love never stops caring for Her children. St. Paul wrote: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, or principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35, 37–39).
When we feel we’ve hit a brick wall of frustration, fear, confusion, or darkness, and it seems that there are no answers, that’s the time to turn to Christ – God’s healing and saving power – and find our way forward.