We don't need to stand idly by, frustrated, when another is in pain. There is always something we can do, and also something we should not do. Considering the can-do privilege first, we can immediately recognize the omnipresence of God. We can so fill our thought with God's goodness and allness that the thought of a loved one in pain, or even millions suffering from a political or natural disaster, is crowded out.
This is not ignoring the plight of the suffering but embracing them in peace. God is an ever-present power, a divine influence that turns thought to acknowledge the supremacy of all that is good and the utter powerlessness of whatever opposes this goodness. The Bible instructs, "Acquaint now thyself with him [God], and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee" (Job 22:21). This peace that comes from knowing God is a source of good for all who are within our consciousness.
A man who frequently suffered severe migraine headaches had one on a day when he and his wife were to go out to dinner with friends. Years earlier he'd stopped filling a prescription for a strong painkiller because he preferred to endure the pain rather than deal with the drug's side effects. He and his wife had just recently heard of Christian Science, but it didn't occur to him to think in terms of spiritual healing. He simply left work early and went to bed when he got home.
When his wife came home, she realized that they would need to bow out of the dinner engagement. It was too early to call their friends because they wouldn't be home from work. She wondered what Christian Scientists would do if a loved one were suffering. They might study the weekly Bible Lesson, she thought, and she began to read that week's Lesson.
She gained such a wonderful sense of God's presence and power that she was at peace. She lost all frightened concern for her husband and no longer dreaded calling their friends to say they would not be coming. It was still too early to call, however, and she just sat and rejoiced at this sense of spiritual peace, which was new to her. In a short time, to her surprise, her husband emerged from the bedroom completely healed, and they enjoyed an evening with their friends. And those times when he would be in pain for days were over.
Recognizing or re-cognizing, as the word implies, is thinking again about something already perceived. Through the ages, spiritual thinkers have discovered and revealed the eternal and unchanging presence and power of God. This awareness of God is actually built in; it's the true perception of reality. Thought filled with this revelation is at peace and brings good to all within our consciousness. Turning to God – recognizing divine Love – is what we can do when faced with others' sufferings.
As mentioned earlier, there is also something we should not do. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and the founder of its many publications, including this newspaper, warned readers in different ways to guard against an indifferent or unsympathetic attitude. She wrote, "Sickness is neither imaginary nor unreal, – that is, to the frightened, false sense of the patient," and said that the sufferer should not be buffeted with the "superficial and cold assertion, 'Nothing ails you' " ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 460).
Sometimes it's challenging to be sympathetic with those who are suffering and still not accept the pain as a reality with a material cause. The truths of the Bible and prayer may be called on for lifting our thoughts above the material. They can elevate us to St. John's vision as recorded in the Bible's book of Revelation: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" (Rev. 21:4).
When faced with an awareness of pain, we may need to realize again and again God's presence and power until genuine spiritual peace comes. But we can rest assured that this re-cognizing has the last word as well as the first because in an awareness of God's eternal allness, pain and its cause disappear.