"I know you're from the area where those people are from," a man who witnessed the plane crash in Montana told the reporter covering the tragedy, "If you could somehow put in there that our prayers are with them, and that their family members didn't go unnoticed. There were people there [who witnessed the crash and who tried to help], and we are praying for them, and we care. I think that's important that they have that knowledge" (Los Angeles Times, March 23).
Elsewhere in the article, that witness, Harley Howard, told how he and a friend had run to the site, and seeing that nothing could be done for the victims, they felt helpless, but they turned and prayed. In their helplessness, they turned to a higher power, one they knew could comfort in the midst of sorrow, and who would care for those who were now beyond human aid.
As the Psalmist put it, speaking of his own life: "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Ps. 61:1, 2).
Prayer is the one power that each individual can turn to whenever circumstances are beyond personal efforts or there is no human help to be had. At its best, it recognizes the undiluted presence of God, the Love that knows no boundaries or limitations, that comforts in the face of tragedy.
It lifts people above a field of horror, out of great sorrow, to the understanding that even now that divine presence is with them and with those who have been lost. Jesus's resurrection proved that life continues – he said in fact that he had come to bring people eternal life – and we can trust that in some way the families that were lost are feeling God's presence.
But, as Mr. Howard said, it's important to realize that God is with those who are left behind, especially the owner of the plane who may be related to the passengers, the relatives of the crew and family members left behind, and with the personnel on the ground conducting the investigation.
Our prayers can declare that even now each individual has what he or she needs in terms of divine guidance, comfort, and care. God is Mind, infinite intelligence and wisdom, and it follows that since each individual is God's idea, inseparable from Him, all have full access to divine Mind's leading and goodness. This will help them as they address the issues attending the crash and decisions that need to be made.
Certainly divine Love will bring each one comfort according to individual need, and will help protect them from sinking into the swamp of anger, guilt, and recrimination. Divine Love can be a tangible presence, guiding their intuition as well as their reasoning, while they are working out their next steps. Divine Love will also help them carry on with their lives without fear or trauma. As Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in tribulation, and a priceless sense of the dear Father's loving-kindness" (pp. 365–366).
This peace and comfort come ultimately from Christ, the foundation on which Jesus built his ministry. More clearly than anyone before him or after, he was able to see God's love for all His people and the power of that love in action. And he promised his disciples that they wouldn't need to feel helpless, even after he left them. He told them, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:18).
No one needs to feel left comfortless in the face of any tragedy. Right now, Christ, the spiritual presence of God, is speaking to all of us, easing our sorrows, comforting our pain, pointing us toward the rock "that is higher than I." The place of safety and peace. The place of Love.