WHERE we were sitting suddenly began to roll like a giant waterbed. The background set on the local evening television news was swaying back and forth. There was no doubt we were experiencing an earthquake. For us it was a minor shaking, but for those in other areas the earthquake was major. Help was needed. ``What can I do?'' quickly came to thought.
Both my husband and I quickly responded with prayer. We had spoken aloud in affirming the fact that there can be no ``natural'' disasters because disaster is certainly not natural; only what God, good, ordains can truly be natural. And it is never His will to cause destruction or suffering. God is Love, and a loving God could not be the cause of anything harmful to man, his beloved spiritual creation.
As I continued to pray -- both about our own situation and to see how I could help others -- I remembered a passage from the Bible: ``And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.''1 From this I could see that God is still God, and that He is in no way connected to or the cause of any evil or disaster. Instead, His love is present to comfort and heal. The same presence of God, divine Love, that Christ Jesus depended on in his ministry is with us now to guide, calm, and direct.
With modern communications, the entire world becomes our community and the family of man grows closer. No Christian can be aware of humanity's needs and not want to do something to help. Such prayerful response can only assist in the restoration of order and harmony.
As the news reports poured in, I realized I had to make a decision. Was I going to react emotionally to what I was seeing or respond spiritually? I chose the second, the constructive, response. Sticking to my choice wasn't always easy, though, as I saw familiar places reduced now to nothing more than a pile of bricks and rubble. But I knew it was imperative to be peaceful myself as I reached out to help others. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, I found an idea that helped me a lot. It's where she says, ``Truth and Love come nearer in the hour of woe, when strong faith or spiritual strength wrestles and prevails through the understanding of God.''2
Turning my thought to God in prayer during this time was joining the support of others also praying, wherever they might be and whatever their circumstances were. Such prayer is always a collective force for good.
The news coverage was sad, often tragic, but more and more there were reports that showed the effects of good: a line of volunteers offering their help that was longer than those needing the help; looting that was less severe than had been expected.
Perhaps we're tempted to believe our faith isn't strong enough to do any good or our prayer won't count when the problems are really serious. That's not true. A caring heart, a desire to help and love, is prayer that God answers. Nothing can shake or jolt us or our fellowman out of God's kingdom. The Bible repeatedly gives us proof of the power of prayer, of the superiority of spiritual power.
Although my husband and I also supported a relief agency, the praying we did (and continued to do) surely reached the need even faster than the check we sent. There's always a right answer to ``What can I do?'' And prayer can show us how God provides the answer.
1I Kings 19:12. 2Science and Health, p. 567.