My wife and I were watching the late news when hurricane Bret was threatening Corpus Christi, Texas.
I had several choices after watching that broadcast. One reasonable option was to head for bed. It was the end of a long day. The second option was to feel helplessly sympathetic for the people in Texas.
I also felt that there was a third option open to me, involving the request of Jesus to "love thy neighbour as thyself." If that storm had been heading for my home, I would have loved myself enough to pray, because of the many practical experiences I have had where prayer diffused some evil threat. How could I do anything less than love my neighbors in Texas by helping them with prayer in their hour of need?
So, it was goodbye pillow, hello prayer. Except that it didn't take long to pray that night. I quickly found a reassuring answer that I felt certain came from God. What came to me as I prayed was an idea shared by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper. It was that God, who is good, is supreme, and that consequently evil is powerless.
It became clear to me that I didn't need to pray for the storm to go away. Instead, I had but to recognize that it's illegitimate for us to associate evil with power. Power belongs to God only, and God is good only.
If an omnipotent God truly created all, as the Bible says, then nothing in God's creation could genuinely be a vehicle for evil. I glimpsed the implication of the fact that "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31).
When I opened "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which was published by Mrs. Eddy in 1875, I came across these words: "Moral and spiritual might belong to Spirit, who holds the 'wind in His fists;' and this teaching accords with Science and harmony. In Science, you can have no power opposed to God, and the physical senses must give up their false testimony" (pg. 192). It was in acknowledging God to be the one spiritual power that I went to sleep peacefully that night.
The next day it was encouraging for us to learn that the storm's course had taken it through a lightly populated area of Texas, and that it had actually brought some needed rainfall to areas that had been experiencing drought. Although there had been property damage, it was on a much smaller scale than had been feared.
So, did I foil hurricane Bret? Since God is the only power, that would be not only an immodest claim, but an inaccurate one. But in a sense, I did foil my own sense of resignation to its threat of dramatic destruction - in my own thinking. Whenever we pray, thought is where we find our answers. My wife had also taken some time to pray in response to that news broadcast. And many people in Texas had been doing the same thing. Prayer is what opens thought to actually seeing more of God's powerful goodness in operation. I feel that all our prayers did make a difference in the outcome, and that I needed to play my part.
As hurricane season continues to feature predictions of increased storm activity, we can all play a continual part by responding with prayer. Whatever affectionate names may be given to each new storm, the underlying assumption is that the natural event will not be as friendly as its names suggests! But in our thoughts, any given storm can be disentangled from the threat of destruction that brings the fear. We can acknowledge and keep affirming to ourselves that the infinite and omnipresent Almighty is good and is in every place, always.
Somehow I feel that if such prayers of conviction become our common response - yours and mine - to each report of an imminent storm, we may find ourselves looking back on a hurricane season less destructive than was previously feared.
They cry unto the Lord
in their trouble, and he
bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the
storm a calm, so that the
waves thereof are still.
Psalms 107:28, 29
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society