'ALL I can see in my future is darkness'' (The New York Times, January 18, 1995). These are the words of a Kobe businessman who lost everything in the recent earthquake that struck Japan. This is how disasters seem to take hold of people and keep them from moving forward. Your prayers and mine, however, can reach into the darkness and bring light.
In the Bible, the Psalmist tells us, ''The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?'' (Psalms 27:1). This light, the presence of God, or divine Love, is available to everyone around the world. It is already present to lead the people of Japan to renewal.
In our prayers for Kobe and any other disaster-stricken area, it is useful to recall the basic truth that man is spiritual. He is not a material or a materialistic human being who can be manipulated by false pride or unwillingness to correct past mistakes. Because man is the idea of divine Principle, Love, man's purpose is both specific and good. Man doesn't exist in a void or as an aimless creation. He expresses intelligence, wisdom, and love. Such affirmations of spiritual reality help to support a just outcome for the investigations being made into the preparedness for and response to the disaster. Understanding the permanence and continuity of God's spiritual creation also frees citizens from aimlessness and hopelessness.
We can firmly reject the belief that an all-loving God would ever send trouble to His children. Instead, He gives each of us the peace, joy, and prosperity that are wholly spiritual. Although we perceive our blessings first in terms of spiritual qualities, these translate into whatever we need humanly--food, shelter, hope--as we express God's goodness in our lives. This is the true being of all of us, whether we are in Kobe or Kansas City or Karachi. Nor is man a victim of ''chance.'' Under the divine government, the only government, man's relation to God can never be shaken or shattered. He is always at one with his Maker. When we apply this spiritual knowledge, we can know God's protection and guidance in times of trouble.
As long ago as 1923 a Japanese family learned this when a severe earthquake struck the area around Tokyo and Yokohama just as they were about to have lunch. Each turned in his or her way to God. One, a thirteen-year-old girl, declared aloud, ''God is Love'' and clung to this idea. Here is an account of what happened next: ''Horrible squeaks and huge thumps were heard outside, and the beautiful old pine trees some hundred years old fell from the mountainside and big rocks rolled down the mountain into the narrow backyard. One huge rock rolled right to the home but stopped one foot away'' (Emi Abiko, A Precious Legacy: Christian Science Comes to Japan [Boston: E. D. Abbott Company, 1978], pp. 3334). No one inside was hurt.
This kind of protection is not limited to any one place or group of people; all can benefit from our prayers to know God's presence. The divine law of God, good, knows no geographic limits or material boundaries. God's law--like His creation--is spiritual; it does not need material modes to transfer its good. Our recognition of this fact helps others to see its operation in their lives--even if they don't define it in those terms.
Reliance on this law is scientific, is provable and consistent. When we pray in this way, we aren't hoping that God will help; we are recognizing a spiritual law that declares the presence of God, antidotes disaster, and brings to light man's wholeness as God's idea. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, often speaks of the unlimited power of this Science in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In one place she writes: ''The 'still, small voice' of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound. . . . It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear'' (p. 559).
As we reach out in prayer to those in Kobe, we can recognize that divine Love, the light that brings peace and hope to those ''in dark places of fear,'' is already present to dispel the darkness. And whether we are able to participate in specific relief efforts or not, we will be making a difference.