June 9 is a day many remember as Thanksgiving during World War II. From May 26 to June 4, 1940, an event took place that was referred to as a miracle of deliverance. Allied soldiers, virtual sitting ducks trapped in the small French city of Dunkirk, were rescued as France fell to Germany.
Their situation has been compared to the children of Israel looking out at the Red Sea with Pharaoh's army closing in by land. Winston Churchill warned his nation to expect to save only 20,000 to 30,000 troops. And yet over 330,000 were evacuated. All kinds of available British craft, some manned by civilians, were involved.
John Masefield, poet laureate of England, said regarding this event: "Hope and Help are stronger things than death. Hope and Help came together in their power into the minds of thousands of simple men, and plucked them from ruin." Citizens of the English coasts risked their lives to rescue complete strangers. This particular event is thought by many to have turned the tide of the war, not just in saving lives but also in improving morale.
Do we need a war to place us at the extremity that would impel us to act to help one another? Heroism lies within us all. A simple gesture or word of kindness may seem a long way from getting into a boat and risking all, but we never know how our actions and thoughts reach another person, or how our unselfish act may help someone in need of encouragement.
You and I spiritually reflect God, and we have the ability to express His love to our fellow men and women. We may feel separate from the person who bags our food in the grocery store or the person sitting next to us on the bus. But we are able to make a difference in the lives of others. And we don't have to wait for a situation like Dunkirk to send our own ships of hope and help.
At times we may feel overwhelmed by the thought that there are too many people in need. Yet, we don't have to accept that our desire to express God's love is but a small dinghy, not enough to make a difference. Daily living can at times feel like a war we are surviving but not really winning. But just as the poet said of Dunkirk, hope and help come together.
We have more than hope as we turn from our pressures and concerns to God. We can have practical proof that God can be relied on. The Bible refers to Him as faithful. When we are able to feel the hope and calm trust that God is good and never leaves His creation wanting, we can then share that conviction with others. God gives the ability to discern and act on spiritual intuition, which guides us across the channels of apathy or indifference or fear of making mistakes. This discernment will never fail us.
One of the poems written by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, includes this: "And o'er earth's troubled, angry sea/ I see Christ walk,/ And come to me, and tenderly,/ Divinely talk" ("Poems," Pg. 12).
Through God's love for His children, we can go forth as representatives of the Christ - the message of Truth. It may not be a life we are physically rescuing, but even the act of beholding another person as the loved of God, speaking to someone as an individual expression of God's creating, may be what that person needs to find rescue from panic or isolation or despair.
Before I leave my bed each morning, or my house, I pray for God to show me how to embrace in love everyone I see. Not with superficial actions or words, but with ones that can carry someone beyond the shores of a difficult day or even hopelessness.
I have often thought about another verse of that same poem: "My prayer, some daily good to do/ To Thine, for Thee;/ An offering pure of Love, whereto/ God leadeth me." I think a lot about the idea of an offering that is pure, without my own personal agenda to make myself feel better or to fill some "good deed quota." I know that if I give my offering where God leads me, I won't make a mistake in my actions. I can launch a boat, however small and unassuming, and never return back to shore empty-handed in my effort to bless others.
You can find other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.