Recently, while disposing of some trash in a wood stove, I severely burned my arm. At first I was mainly disgusted with myself for being so careless. But soon the pain was demanding my full attention. In the past I had received many healings by turning to God. And so now it was natural to pray.
As I listened closely to feel God's comforting presence, something came very clearly to mind. A few days earlier I had read several newspaper accounts of the phosphorus bombs dropped in Beirut. I had read earlier of the use of ''cluster bombs'' and had felt a certain anguish. But with the vivid description of the phosphorus weapons - and the damage they inflicted on the body through burns - my anguish had grown into anger.
Suddenly it was very clear to me that the incident with my arm was merelya signal - an insistence that I simply couldn't leave my view of the conflict where it was. I wasn't contributing to any sort of solution by inflamed feelings toward either side - blaming the combatants for injury to innocent victims who were caught in the middle of the fighting. Somehow I needed to break through the vivid picture of suffering and achieve some vision of where God fitted into the picture.
This vision did come to light - but by something of a circuitous route. I came across the definition of the word ''fire'' in the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. This is a chapter where Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives insight into many Bible terms. Two terms used in the definition of fire are ''hatred'' and ''destruction.'' n1 I could see that the sensation of burning was rooted in the concept of anger. Humbly I prayed to more faithfully follow the spirit of this Bible admonition: ''If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?'' n2 I wasn't praying just for myself now. I was praying for humanity.
n1 Science and Health, p. 586.
n2 I John 4:20.
I could see it wasn't just a matter of having compassion on those who were innocent. I was being called on to actively love my fellowmen - not only those in the middle but also on both sides. This wasn't merely a human effort to muster better feelings about some mortals that I didn't even know. The need was to see the truth behind a statement preceding the above-quoted Bible verse: ''God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.'' n 3
n3 I John 4:16.
In truth, man does dwell in God, in divine Love. Although the material senses may scoff at such a concept, the fact is that God creates man perfect in His image, in the spiritual likeness of Love. A clear and consistent nourishing of such a profound truth has practical implications for distressing human conditions. One of the most valuable contributions a Christian can bring to warring nations is a demonstration of the message of the eternal, healing Christ - that God is Love and that God's child, man, conforms by divine right to His nature.
The pain in my arm disappeared. Not gradually, but suddenly. I was healed. I saw the combatants in a new light. I saw the leaders of each side in a new light. I was deeply grateful for the work of the chief negotiator. I'm under no illusions about the tremendous problems still to be solved in the Middle East. But I'm no longer contributing to the problem. And even if my participation in the evolving solution is terribly modest, at least I see more clearly where the ultimate solution lies. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Let love be without dissimulation. . . Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love. Romans 12:9, 10