“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19). This passage has been my cherished prayer over the past several weeks, as the reports of flooding in Pakistan have been coming in – thousands of lives lost, families displaced from their homes, drinking water unsafe, and a lack of clear and orderly aid and support from world relief organizations and the Pakistani government.
It’s certainly tempting to look down into the depths of the dark waters of this human tragedy. But what could be more needed at a time like this than a standard, a rallying flag of courage and hope, to lead forward and bring assurance of God’s loving comfort and support during even the worst of human disasters?
What does this standard look like? It looks like hearts yearning to help one another. It looks like courage to move a family to a place of refuge. It looks like families making unbelievable sacrifices to care for one another. It looks like the wisdom to find solutions to needs, in spite of apparent helplessness. It looks like comforting arms wrapped around a grieving neighbor. Compassion, courage, unselfishness, wisdom, comfort – these are attributes of God, who is divine Love, and whenever we see them expressed, we are seeing the proof of Love’s ever-presence irresistibly shining into a situation in spite of tragic circumstances.
And the importance of tracing these evidences of divine Love breaking through the confusion and despair is that the light of divine Love leads to practical solutions.
For instance, if you were in a dark cave and saw even a pinprick of sunlight, you would give your entire attention to that tiny bit of light, because you’d know it was the way out of the cave. You would be grateful for this shaft of light; you’d follow it with your whole heart, give all your energies and attention to tracing it as the path to freedom.
Similarly, when we or others are in a dark and difficult situation where things seem helpless and without answers, there is always, always the light of divine Love breaking through in some way or another. There is simply no opaqueness of finite life in matter that can possibly completely blot out the infinite, all-pervading spiritual facts of Life as the infinite God who is good. And as we turn thought upward and outward to this standard of God’s attributes being expressed and shining into the gloom, we can begin to trace the presence of divine Love and see practical solutions to the needs of the situation.
I certainly found this to be true when our family home was inundated in 1993, during the great flooding of the Mississippi River. For weeks I watched the river rise and one home after another in our small village along the Mississippi go under, until our outbuildings and home were also invaded. Yet during this time of destruction, displacement, and concern for how we would rebuild our lives, there was so much kindness expressed, so much help offered, so much courage in the face of personal safety, and so much evidence of our community coming together in love, that I felt certain that somehow good would come from this calamity.
Keeping my thoughts focused on this standard of divine Love led us to a temporary place to stay, thanks to a family member’s love. It also gave us strength and courage to face the cleanup when the waters receded, and enabled the discovery of resources of aid that would help us financially. This focus on divine Love also supplied us with ways to support our community through the recovery.
I held this passage from the Christian Science textbook by Mary Baker Eddy close in my heart during that experience: “As the children of Israel were guided triumphantly through the Red Sea, the dark ebbing and flowing tides of human fear, – as they were led through the wilderness, walking wearily through the great desert of human hopes, and anticipating the promised joy, – so shall the spiritual idea guide all right desires in their passage from sense to Soul, from a material sense of existence to the spiritual, up to the glory prepared for them who love God. Stately Science pauses not, but moves before them, a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, leading to divine heights” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 566).
God is even now lifting up an unmistakable standard of divine Love for all those in Pakistan and all those around the world who are praying to support these dear ones. As we give our whole attention to tracing the evidences of Love in this situation, it will lead to answers of comfort, support, sustenance, safety, protection, and peace.