My heart has gone out in prayer each day over the past week to the 33 trapped Chilean miners, their families, and rescuers. On the heels of the joyous news of their safety after 17 days in their tiny cavern came the crushing announcement that their eventual rescue may take as long as four months to complete. Thousands of feet of rock and potentially unstable layers of earth must be carefully drilled and removed in order to create a hole large enough to safely extract the men.
Also predicted are a host of physical and psychological challenges the men may encounter while they wait to be rescued. Chile’s health minister reported late last week, “We expect that after the initial euphoria of being found, we will likely see a period of depression and anguish.... It would be naive to think they can keep their spirits up like this.”
There is, however, a different way of viewing the situation in Chile – one that helps us pray on behalf of the miners. One that sees the power of God already at hand sustaining, defending, protecting, and maintaining the peace, health, and harmony of those men. Christian Science, grounded in the teachings and demonstrations of Christ Jesus, reveals God as All – all powerful, always present, all loving, all real substance, and all true consciousness. This sense of God covers the whole ground of fear, worry, and speculation with the understanding that there is no place on earth where He is not immediately at hand to comfort and sustain humanity.
Grasping the depth and breadth of God’s allness, the Psalmist wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” “The Message” provides an insightful interpretation of that passage and what follows it: “Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there!… Then I said to myself, ‘Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!’ ” (Ps. 139:7, 8, 11). In our prayers for the miners we can begin with this simple truth that they are inseparable from God’s love. This love continuously flows from a limitless source and fills even the darkest physical and mental atmosphere with light and hope.
At one point during Christ Jesus’ ministry, after he healed a child of mental illness, he said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. 17:20). This promise remains true for all humanity today. Knowing that every good outcome is possible to Almighty God enables us to pray about this situation, keeping thought uplifted to the spiritual facts of the situation, not buried under a weight of doubt and fear.
One definition of faith I’ve been considering recently is “gratitude ahead of time.” Faith is an unfailing trust in good, sometimes even before we actually see or know the outcome of a particular situation. Jesus demonstrated this kind of faith when he thanked God in advance of raising Lazarus from the dead (see John 11:41-44). Following Jesus’ example, we can thank God, who is infinite Love, for hearing our prayers now and always on behalf of our fellow man and woman.
Faith in God as the one divine Mind allows us to be grateful now for the intelligent unfolding of rescue efforts and the protection of everyone involved from mental and physical distress. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, wrote, “Your assumptions insist that there is more than one Mind, more than the one God; but verily I say unto you, God is All-in-all; and you can never be outside of His oneness” (“Unity of Good,” p. 24).
Our active faith, our commitment to praise God in advance for His goodness, will support the rescue effort. It will help remove the mountain of fear, worry, and speculation about the well-being of the miners and their families. It will help replace these fears with unwavering trust in ever-active good. Together we can rejoice in God’s protecting love for all His children, mentally embracing each miner, rescuer, and everyone in that community in the truth of their God-given freedom.