After an accident or catastrophe there’s a natural inclination to survey the damage done. It can be anything from a blown tire to a damaged home or a national economy in crisis.
Sometimes the damage is different from what it appears to be. The assessment often takes some careful analysis before restoration begins.
For example, the attempted terrorist plot on a Northwest Airlines flight leaving Amsterdam on Christmas Day was foiled before it landed in Detroit, Mich. Passengers and crew subdued the terrorist, and no physical harm was done. No lives were lost. The plane was landed safely and was not destroyed. The passengers left the plane without harm.
But if one looks at the underlying motive of terrorism, the plot could have been counted a complete success. One major purpose of terrorism is to threaten, to create fear, to cause a sense of danger that intimidates the public. In and of itself, the international response to the incident shows the influence it has had on the public, even though no physical damage was actually done.
What’s needed then is a way not only to prevent evil acts but also to overcome the residue of fear such deeds may leave within our thoughts. Harboring hate and anger won’t enable us to accomplish this, but prayer can help us move beyond them toward healing.
The Bible teaches us to trust in God’s loving and all-powerful goodness to protect and preserve all His children. It offers wonderful promises of protection, not only from fear but from physical harm. One psalm says: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (Ps. 56:3, 4).
To the degree that each of us turns to the protective and sheltering nature of divine Love, to that degree do we feel and experience it. Instead of feeling threatened or intimidated by news reports, we can be confident in God’s care and overcome fear and the threat of danger. When we trust in God, there doesn’t need to be any damage or any lingering residue of it as the result of others’ hate or desire to harm.
I’ve experienced the truth of that psalm’s message. For instance, one time I was visiting some friends in a large city. I decided to go for a walk by myself in the surrounding neighborhood. Very soon I found myself in a rough area, and I felt threatened.
So I prayed to know that divine Love was always present no matter where I was – that what I had to defend myself against was not so much people, but terrorizing thoughts that were coming to me. Even as I headed back to my friend’s apartment, I could feel that the spiritual thoughts I was having were removing my fear of harm.
I very quickly felt calm and confident, and I felt love for my fellow man, including the people in the neighborhood who seemed threatening to me. It was God’s love for me, and my love for my fellow man, that removed the terrorizing belief that I could be in danger. My pace slowed, and I greeted those whose eyes I met with a genuine care. Before I reached the apartment, I felt completely at ease. I felt safe, cared for, and able to love those I met. It was a good lesson I’ve often recalled.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, wrote of the need to defend our thoughts from what seem like evil beliefs ready to harm us. That defense comes in proportion to our conviction in God’s ever-present care for us and for those around us. She wrote: “Evil thoughts and aims reach no farther and do no more harm than one’s belief permits. Evil thoughts, lusts, and malicious purposes cannot go forth, like wandering pollen, from one human mind to another, finding unsuspected lodgment, if virtue and truth build a strong defence” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 234–235).
Having that “strong defense,” firmly rooted in God’s loving power, goodness, and presence, keeps us safe.