Air France Flight 447 and a psalm of comfort

A Christian Science perspective.

By , News editor for the Christian Science magazines

The loss of an Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris has left aviation experts puzzled and families grieving. It's hard to understand why a relatively new and well-maintained aircraft would suddenly disappear from the sky. Even if the technical questions are all answered – despite the challenge of finding wreckage in ocean waters that can be nearly 23,000 feet deep – there will still be a need for healing hearts and regaining hope for the future.

One of the passages that has helped me is from Psalm 139: "If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (verses 9, 10). That sense of God's omnipresence, His tender love overseeing each of His children, provides assurance that no one is outside His care, even in times of tragedy. We can't know how each individual responded to the disaster, but our prayers can give us confidence that right there in moments of fear, God's right hand held them and led them to know His strong and comforting presence.

Those "wings of the morning" can be more than just a beautiful metaphor. In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, gave "morning" a spiritual definition: "Light; symbol of Truth; revelation and progress" (p. 591). This idea of a new beginning rather than a tragic ending can begin to turn thought to the spiritual nature of each son and daughter of God, borne on wings of a light that never stops shining.

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The wings of the morning can also help those left behind, enabling them to perceive, even if only to a degree, that their loved ones are those spiritual children of God, and that just as divine Life goes on, they must be continuing. And so are those left behind. God hasn't abandoned them, nor could He ever cease to love them. Even now, His Christ – the spiritual message of God's love for each one – is speaking to the families in ways they can understand. For some, this may be feelings of comfort; for others, it may be inspired guidance in how to continue nurturing a family. There may be a surge of needed strength to meet new demands.

Psalm 139 also includes verses that help support the recovery effort. "If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee" (verses 11, 12).

The ocean depths may be very dark, and seem impenetrable, but the light of Truth – of "revelation and progress" – can guide those charged with solving the mystery. They can be strengthened to persist in the face of challenging conditions, inspired to adopt new methods for the search, if needed, and be intelligent in their endeavors to find answers. Each can respond to spiritual intuition, which is natural to God's children, and be wise and alert to danger as they explore the depths.

Over the years, there has been success retrieving aircraft parts that seemed lost when a plane had gone down over water. Our individual prayer can support inspired thinking that overcomes the seemingly impossible.

Whether or not enough of the aircraft is found so that the reason for the crash can be uncovered, each individual deserves to have or to regain a feeling of peace and restored equilibrium. Jesus, who lived in violent times and endured violent treatment himself, told his followers, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: ... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).

Each one who is affected by this tragedy, or some other, can turn to the message of Life that Jesus articulated, and to seek to feel this Christ-presence, to live it, and to love it. Whenever sadness or anger or bitterness appear, we can turn to the truth of our spirituality and inseparability from God, and let that tender power permeate our thoughts. Then we not only will have peace, but will be able to help bring peace to others.

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