Drastic floods have caused devastation in different parts of the world - recently in Nicaragua and Honduras. Such disasters leave in their wake great loss of human life. When homes, businesses, farms - and the infrastructure that enables a country to function - are destroyed, billions of dollars are needed for restoration.
By contrast, the Hebrew Scriptures, which form a large portion of the Holy Bible, record a flood in which it is violence and corruption that are wiped out. What's good and useful is preserved in an ark built at God's command that rises above the flood. And when the floodwaters subside, there's a new beginning. "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth," is God's command and blessing to the arkbuilder Noah and his family (Gen. 9:1).
Is there any way this Bible story can help victims of modern-day floods - and other disasters? When any natural disaster comes on with little warning, it often looks like it is too late to build whatever might constitute today's ark of safety. Yet we often see hints of such salvation when people are rescued by boat or helicopter, or where local community groups evacuate whole villages to higher ground.
But often, after floodwaters have initially subsided, other floods threaten - floods of despair, disease, starvation, poverty, delays in receiving needed aid.
Consider an ark for today, constructed to help people rise above the waters and hasten their new beginnings - the Bible's timeless message. This is felt most effectively when its underlying spiritual meaning is understood. The Glossary of the Christian Science textbook points out the spiritual import of many biblical terms. Noah is described as representing spiritual insight and a humble obedience to God: "knowledge of the nothingness of material things and of the immortality of all that is spiritual" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 592).
Part of the description of ark in this chapter reads: "Safety; the idea, or reflection, of Truth, proved to be as immortal as its Principle .... Science showing that the spiritual realities of all things are created by Him [God] and exist forever" (pg. 581). Here Truth and Principle are terms for God, the latter revealing Him as the creative Principle of the universe - the only lawmaker.
This implies that true safety from the flood of fears, threats, and dangers is found in spiritual understanding. In the insight that sees beyond the outward evidence that everything is material and destructible, to an underlying, God-created reality that can never be destroyed.
Insights like this can change lives - can help in supporting and strengthening the good work that's already being done in some areas. Like building new roads, planting fresh crops, repairing and restoring homes. These give us a vision that it's not just a matter of replacing what has been lost, but of vastly improving on what was there before. Of truly making a new beginning.
If the qualities impelling this good work are from God, they can't wear out, grow stale, or be in short supply, but are always fresh and vital.
Spiritual insights can indeed help people deal with the fears, doubts, lack, frustration, hopelessness, impatience, mismanagement, that may continue to flood in and block or delay efforts at rebuilding and restoration. However overwhelming, these problems never originate in God, and so they have no place in the underlying spiritual identity of anyone. What isn't in our identity can't remain in our lives. Each of us has authority from God to get rid of negative thoughts, by recognizing them as mistaken concepts of God's creation, the very reverse of what's actually true.
In place of fear and doubt, God expresses in us love and trust. In place of lack, abundance; of frustration, unobstructed progress; of hopelessness and impatience, hope and patience; of mismanagement, Principle's orderly control and government. Knowing spiritual facts like these improves thoughts and attitudes. This can make a real difference in improving the human situation.
Anyone, anywhere, can pray prayers that acknowledge "that the spiritual realities of all things are created by Him and exist forever." This makes a real contribution to lifting humanity above a devastating flood - literal or figurative - that might threaten someone's well-being. It's building an ark for today.