A way forward out of hopelessness and despair
A Christian Science perspective: God's shepherding love calms panic and fear.
Unjust situations, in our own lives or in the world, can arouse thoughts of anger, revenge, and retribution. How can we turn these negative impulses into something constructive? People want to help those in trouble, but they may feel helpless – even hopeless. As riveting and unsolvable as situations such as the ones in Libya and Japan may appear, there’s a constructive way of approaching them. I learned the practicality of this approach – and its importance – during the uprisings in Egypt.
Rather than continuing to feed the negative emotions, I found that the need is to take an approach that calms, not one that fuels. There’s a good example in the Bible. As recorded in the second book of Kings, Elisha’s servant appeared gripped with fear by the imminent approach of the enemy and cried, "Alas my master! how shall we do?" Elisha reassured him, saying, "They that be with us are more than they that be with them." Then he prayed and asked God to open his servant’s eyes. And what did the servant see that removed his fears? "Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha"
(II Kings 6:15-17).
Elisha’s fearless example has inspired me to face down difficult situations through prayer. How much better it is to acknowledge our connection with God, which is always functioning on our behalf, than to cave in to despair and discouragement. This connection is practical proof that we are forever His children, totally plugged in to all that He is imparting. Nothing can interfere with it or disconnect it. His impartations aren’t selective; they are always available.
Those of us living far away from areas of devastation in the world today can’t fully imagine the horror of losing our possessions, our livelihood, or our lives to strife or a natural disaster. We may even be challenged to find a prayer point for entering what seem to be bleak and hopeless situations. I’ve found a prayer point in this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy, who had experienced tragedy in her personal life, wrote: "For right reasoning there should be but one fact before the thought, namely, spiritual existence" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 492).
We can begin with these God-based facts – spiritual existence, man and woman created by God. We can stay close in prayer to the consciousness of God’s kingdom, where all His creation lives and moves in the harmony of being at one with Him. To know that the Word of God does not go forth in vain is to stand courageously by our prayers, holding to the inviolability of all that He created.
When I was joining others around the world in prayer about the uprising in Egypt, the thought that there is only the man and woman of God’s creating gave me a point from which to reason spiritually. This perfectly created and sustained idea of God, this man or woman that is our exact identity, could never be separated from his or her source. I applied this idea not only to those championing freedom but to a vociferous group in opposition. I’m grateful that people around the world have joined in prayer in response to the situation in Egypt and that progress has been made. Similar outpourings of prayer have come in regard to the situations in Libya and Japan.
Each of us has within consciousness that "secret place of the most High" (Ps. 91:1), where God is revealing Himself in ways that meet our present need. This is "the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," the place Christ Jesus instructed his followers to seek first (Matt. 6:33). Seeking this kingdom of God through deep, consecrated prayer replaces despair with hope, dread with confidence.
God’s shepherding love calms panic and erases fear, enabling us to feel the assurance of His presence in the midst of frightening evidence to the contrary. He is indeed "our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1).
Drawing closer to God, the source of all good, does not ignore the human need, as dire as it may be. It plants us in His all-embracing care, from which no one can be plucked or dislocated. As I listen in prayer for God’s messages, telling of His tender love for each of us, I know with a surety that His great light is dispelling the darkness and pointing the way to a brighter day for all.