In the Face of Tragedy

A YOUNG friend who lost a classmate in an automobile accident commented sadly, ``Maybe I could begin to deal with what happened if I could just see some meaning or purpose in it.'' She was struggling to make sense out of what inherently didn't make sense. Evil simply doesn't make sense. But there is meaning and comfort to be found in God's love and in the spiritual truth of man's permanent identity in Spirit. God, Spirit, didn't create man of matter, subject to chance and victimization. In our true being, we are created in His likeness, the likeness of Spirit, to express eternally His intelligence, goodness, and love. When we face harsh contradictions to this spiritual fact, prayer can help us feel close to God and see through the hurt to a clearer view of man's being. Prayer brings inspiration and vision to go forward into the future. We can feel order and continuity right where chaos and destruction appeared to be.

In her early life, Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science, had moments of sharp despair. One by one, those closest to her died. Even her young son was taken from her when her health deteriorated to the point that she couldn't care for him. Sickness, loneliness, and poverty increasingly darkened her life. She yearned for meaningful answers. She was sure of God's love and justice and couldn't accept that suffering could be His will. She felt sure that in His infinite love He would show the meaning of existence, a purpose not defined by chance or the mercilessness of material laws.

At a point when her life seemed to be flickering out, she real-ized that Spirit is All, the only substance and cause. This bright glimpse of spiritual light healed her. Later she wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love. Then we begin to learn Life in divine Science.''

Christian Science is the name she gave to the momentous discovery she made, the discovery of divine Love's infinite power to restore, lift up, and heal. Christian Science came to her gradually as she devoted herself to a deeper understanding of the Bible, particularly of Christ Jesus' life. She searched for the meaning of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Mrs. Eddy saw Jesus' resurrection as proof that death has no true power -- proof that man, God's spiritual idea, is indestructible. This is the true meaning of man. And as this meaning dawns upon us, it heals.

Because Jesus clearly understood that God is man's very Life and that Life is Spirit (not in matter), he was able to heal. He was able to prove that his Life could not be ended or hidden. Just before his crucifixion, he told his disciples, as John's Gospel records, ``I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.''

Our Master's promise of permanent joy has everything to do with our own existence and purpose. His resurrection victory shines a flood of light on the meaning of man as God's infinite, indestructible idea. It is never too late for God's love to reach and meet our need. As we grow in our understanding of God and of man's relationship to Him, we gratefully come to realize that death is not ``true'' in any ultimate sense. With our thought turned to God, we can feel the comforting reassurance that Life, not death, is inevitable. Truth wakens deep within us what can't be crushed, and the spell of sadness is broken by a joyful, steady conviction of the immortality of man.

This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the August 27 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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