THE reports of casualties in the Persian Gulf region cause one's heart to reach out in compassion to the soldiers and their comrades, to the families of all nations involved that face an uncertain future, and indeed to all whose lives and hopes are disrupted or shattered by war. But even in the midst of such devastating times, help is at hand. Many have found that the Scriptures bring needed strength and reassurance. The Psalmist, for example, tells us, ``God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.'' Even if we are in the midst of grief or distress, we can turn to God as the same psalm urges: ``Be still, and know that I am God:...I will be exalted in the earth.''
God is the unchanging presence and power of good, ever available to all mankind. In the midst of pain and loss, prayer enables us to become aware of God's presence and care. But prayer does more than comfort us. It establishes a new sense of strength, inspiration, and direction. In the face of great disruption, prayer shows us that God is a pillar of immeasurable love, the dependable, permanent source of good in our lives.
How do we pray this way? The Bible verse above counsels, ``Be still.'' It isn't always easy to still our mental turmoil so that we can obey the next part of the Biblical instruction, ``Know that I am God,'' but it can be done.
What is God to us? What is it that the Psalmist is urging us to turn to in prayer? The Scriptures reveal God to be infinite Spirit, unfailing Truth, immortal Life. To acknowledge and begin to understand this true nature of God, is to allow our lives to be governed by infinite Spirit, unfailing Truth, immortal Life. This brings to our experience a confidence in God's help and care that frees us from evil and suffering.
The psalm also promises that God ``will be exalted in the earth.'' Isn't God ``exalted in the earth'' when we begin to allow God to be God to us? As the goodness of God becomes more real to us than the evil and suffering that can seem so powerful, God's omnipotence will enable us to overcome the trials we face. As this occurs, we're not simply passive observers of brutal events. Through prayer we find the blessings that come from God.
This isn't just a nice theory. God's help is real. The Bible records that in the desert His people found water, were clothed and fed. They were rescued from danger. They were healed. As we discover through prayer the spiritual fact of God's presence and care, we find continuing proof of this fact in daily life.
Christ Jesus told his disciples, ``In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.'' His knowledge of God delivered him from evil. And he has given us his example to follow in finding our way out of all evil through our growing understanding of God. The gospel accounts of Jesus' life and teaching encourage us not to accept evil as inevitable, but to protest against it with the certainty of God's power to deliver us from evil.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, devoted her life to relieving suffering. Speaking of God as divine Love, she writes in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany: ``Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee. Therefore despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance.''
These times stir peoples' hearts and cause them to seek help. God's care is not far from us. Seeking God's care, we will find it. Finding it, we make room for hope, and tears are wiped away.