Disaster recovery

A Christian Science perspective.

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When I was in high school, the area where I lived was hit by hurricane Agnes, the worst natural disaster (dollarwise) in the US up to that time. We were safe, but our three-story house was flooded up to a few inches below the second floor. Although the building remained structurally sound (unlike the garage, which was washed away), virtually all our possessions in the basement and on the first floor were destroyed.

Looking back on this experience since then, I’ve thought of a statement Mary Baker Eddy made: “Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment. What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the ‘Peace, be still’ to all human fears, to suffering of every sort” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896,” p. 307).

That actually describes our experience. Maybe a little doubt about something did spring up once or twice, but whatever needs we had were met, and we discovered what a “glorious inheritance” is indeed given to all of us.

During the months of cleanup and remodeling that followed, I don’t think any of us ever felt much of a sense of loss. Even though photographs and other things generally considered irreplaceable were gone, loss and deprivation didn’t come up in conversations – not because we deliberately avoided them but because they weren’t what we were thinking about. We all seemed to have a quiet confidence – perhaps you could call it an ongoing prayer that characterized our days – that everything was OK and that we’d have everything we’d need.

That proved to be the case. Help, financial and otherwise, came from a variety of sources, and finally our home was back to normal.

This has also helped me see that when loss or disaster occurs in our lives, the issue isn’t so much why it happened. To dwell on the “why” is in effect to memorialize the disaster and keep thought focused on the tragedy. Instead, the issue is to live in such a way that proves that it can’t adversely affect us. This is harder in some cases than in others – when there’s loss of life, for instance. The loss of photos or treasured heirlooms obviously can’t be compared to losing relatives or friends, but even if a loved one isn’t around any longer, we can prove that we can’t be cut off from the always-present love and goodness that is God.

Anyone, anywhere, can stick with and progress in understanding more about omnipresent Love. This way, we can see that the good we previously associated with a now absent person or item is coming in some other natural way. Instead of grieving about a loss, we can prove that we can’t be deprived of the abundant good God is always providing. It’s constant even if the material particulars are different.

The Bible mentions a “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). The goodness and love that comprise this city can’t be shaken, knocked down, or blown or washed away. They can’t be destroyed at all, which is what Christ Jesus proved throughout his career, providing clear evidence that God can be counted on to provide whatever good thing we need – health, food, safety, or whatever.

That’s what was proved to my family after the disaster we experienced. Anyone who follows what Jesus taught can prove it, too, as he said (see John 14:12). Doing so – proving what is spiritually true – also helps others have what they need, no matter what physical conditions they face. Then, like Paul in the Bible (see Rom. 8:38, 39), we’ll be certain that nothing can separate anyone from God’s love.

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