Whoever speaks of timely and untimely deaths inadvertently suggests that there are circumstances in which death can be the right thing at the right time. Yet the Bible suggests something radically different from that, namely that death is an enemy to be destroyed through spiritual progress (see I Cor. 15:26).
Nevertheless, there are deaths that feel particularly unjust – such as the loss of a teenager to violence. Britain, especially London, has recently experienced an upsurge of such murders, disproportionately among black teenagers. Some have been victims of targeted crimes, some victims of a volatile reaction to a look or word considered "disrespectful," and some victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, crossing into a neighboring gang's "turf," even if the reason for being there was to go from A to B, with B happening to be in that "wrong" postal code.
What can be done? The new mayor of London and his specially appointed deputy mayor are keenly looking into short-term policing needs and longer-term solutions involving the voluntary sector that works with youths. Local newspapers are highlighting the issue. And people of many faiths are praying about the situation.
In the case of teen deaths, prayer might seem to come out of the yearning heart as a plea for God to do something to change the tragic circumstances. Prayer is more powerful when it affirms the inevitable action of the infinite intelligence that is God and seeks to behold and implement inspired ideas from the divine Mind that can bring human action into line with the divine.
What is the divine action relevant to teenagers in London and around the world today? One aspect of this must be the always effective antidote to "the last enemy," death – namely the self-revealing knowledge and proof of "life everlasting" as the Bible describes the divine Life, God.
This universally assertive knowledge of everlasting life as the true and eternal state of everyone – including teens! – is the Christ that Jesus made plain in his own life. The spiritual standpoint of individual and universal being, of which Jesus was so conscious, was proved practical when he passed unseen through a mob intent on killing him.
This consciousness of God's ever-presence and each individual's true place within the protection of the divine presence is available to all.
The gift of God to one and all is immortality, not mortality – not only for oneself and one's loved ones, but for all. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote: "Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 210).
To the degree that all people accept a better sense of life than the material view that includes randomness, insecurity, and fatalism (good or bad), and let loving thoughts – holding to the true view of life as spiritual and eternal – "rest upon" the teenagers coping with life in the city, more rapid progress out of teen killings will become possible.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
and he inclined unto me,
and heard my cry.
He brought me up also
out of an horrible pit,
out of the miry clay,
and set my feet upon a rock,
and established my goings.
And he hath put a new song in my mouth,
even praise unto our God: