An army of volunteers has been filling sandbags and working like beavers to build up dikes, as North Dakota's Red River and others, including some in Minnesota, absorb more and more water from snowmelt. By Saturday, the river is expected to crest at 41 feet – nearly a foot higher than it has ever gone before.
Officials estimate that over 10,000 people have volunteered to help with bagging sand for levees, and over 1.5 million bags have been filled so far. But their efforts have been complicated by a severe winter storm that has added snow and ice to the mix and has slowed down deliveries of sand.
Those of us who aren't near enough to help physically can still participate by joining in prayer for these communities and for the people who are working so hard to save them. The Bible offers many thoughts about God that can inspire our prayers. Among them: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength ... they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isa. 40:31).
In prayer we can recognize that each individual is the spiritual idea of God, created by Him and inseparable from His care. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded this newspaper, spoke of God's men and women as His reflection – literally one with divine Spirit. Then it is possible to claim oneness with God's intelligence, strength, goodness, and love. These spiritual qualities are inexhaustible because their source is in infinite Love, and these attributes belong to everyone, not just a chosen few.
It's useful, too, to remember that God is with His children in good times and in bad: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee" (Isa. 43:2). This promise provides inner peace and the conviction that life is more than a building or personal possessions. Yet it isn't abstract or theoretical, either. Knowing that God is a very present help, for example, can give one the strength to fill sandbags or the specific wisdom to know when it would be wise to leave an area that is growing dangerous. This promise also helps remove fear. By trusting God's care and yielding to divine will, which is always good, each individual can be kept safe from harm.
Prayer can address the confusion and pressure that make decisionmaking difficult. Divine intelligence, or the one Mind, can provide inspired and intelligent ideas to guide those dealing with a levee break or a family that refuses to evacuate. Keeping one's thought on God's love and on the knowledge that each of us is truly precious to Him will also help. Mary Baker Eddy once wrote in a sermon, "remember God in all thy ways, and thou shalt find the truth that breaks the dream of sense, letting the harmony of Science that declares Him, come in with healing, and peace, and perfect love" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," pp. 175-176).
How does "the harmony of Science" declare God's presence? By opening our eyes to good and intelligence wherever they are to be found. By providing the wisdom to place the sandbags to best effect, the strength to transcend exhaustion, the endurance to remain hopeful and alert. All of these are examples of "divinity embracing humanity" bringing to light the spiritual qualities that we all have but may not have fully appreciated before (see "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 561).
Prayer to see the "harmony of Science" expressed in this situation, or any other where people's homes and livelihoods are at stake, enables one to challenge predictions of disaster. While there are areas that have experienced overflows, it is still possible for circumstances to conform to the "harmony of Science," in which good is dominant and loss is not a given. Divine law is the rule of harmony, the expectation of good, not of evil. If our prayers can achieve this, even in a degree, it may well be the biggest blessing of all.