EARTHQUAKES. Floods. Tornadoes. Volcanoes. Hurricanes. Forest fires. It can all seem like environmental terrorism: unpredictable and deadly. What hope of protection could there be in the path of such ferocity? The Bible, with its many instances of individual and collective refuge from disasters and storms, turns us to God for help in any trouble. In some cases, as when Luke tells how Jesus saved himself and his disciples from a raging storm, the needed protection was seen in the complete cessation of the turmoil of the elements. At other times, the Bible shows that safety can be found even when the elements are at their most ferocious.
At one point, for example, Paul was a prisoner on his way to Rome and was caught in a dangerous storm at sea. We read in Acts that his prayerful trust in God enabled him calmly to tell those he was with: ``Be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.'' Though they were shipwrecked and their boat ``broken with the violence of the waves,'' all were able to reach land safely.
Is this just ancient history, interesting, but not applicable now? No. The Biblical accounts provide models of thought and behavior for our own lives. God has not changed. Nor has His relationship to His children. No matter what the circumstance, God's love is unfailing, and we can avail ourselves of His present care and active protection. Instead of reacting out of fear, we can trust, as did Paul, that we are safe, as the Psalmist wrote, ``in the secret place of the most High.'' We can replace fear with trust, and we can confidently affirm that no destructive force can tear down our spiritual sense of harmony.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``The calm and exalted thought or spiritual apprehension is at peace.'' Understanding that simple declaration of peace within, that affirmation of God's kingdom on earth now, can and will protect us. Many of those involved in a disaster have reported how their deep trust and prayers have saved them and their neighbors from greater disaster; or how they were guided to a place of safety; or how they were able to comfort and aid others in the aftermath. Each of these circumstances is an opportunity for us to bring healing and peace through prayer.
And prayer does heal. Not as an exceptional occurrence, nor as an isolated and supernatural event available only to a few. Prayer is effective because it reaches out in recognition of the law of God in operation despite the evidence of materiality. And such trust in God blesses those around us as well.
While we may not all be ready to still the storm itself, our affirmation of God's immediate presence in our lives as a source of peace, protection, and harmony is a powerful, active force. It can still our fears, protect us and those around us, and give us the strength and courage to see beyond the raging elements.
As the Psalmist wrote: ``God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.... Be still, and know that I am God:...I will be exalted in the earth.'' No matter how frightening the predictions or how devastating the appearance of any storm, we can rest in the assurance that the quiet presence of our God will give us strength where needed and hold us secure in His keeping.