The oil spill and a different kind of news briefing

A Christian Science perspective.

I live in Louisiana and care deeply about what’s happening with the oil that’s washing up on our Gulf Coast.

Out of necessity, it has become a habit to turn to the Internet first thing in the morning to find the latest information. At times I feel like a mouse going through a maze on the information highway, just trying to get to the news that’s most important. There are a lot of distractions along the way. I find myself bombarded with sensational reporting on all kinds of subjects, and reading senseless comments. I feel like I’m being rerouted from my original focus of just trying to get to the facts.

I started to think about the officials involved in this catastrophe and how they have to be kept informed on what’s happening. I’ve been hearing the words “daily briefing” quite a lot lately. I recently discovered that the Monitor provides a “Daily News Briefing” that can be delivered to my e-mail in-box every morning. A free trial subscription was being offered, and I became a grateful subscriber.

One objective in receiving the latest information is to be aware of the current issues that need prayer. Staying informed also allows me to gauge the progress taking place.

On June 2, after I’d done my Web surfing, there was a lot of discouraging news. There had been several failed attempts to stop the oil, and there appeared to be very little cooperation among those working to solve the problem. The prognosis did not look good.

Feeling frustrated, I walked away from the computer, and the thought came, “Surely there is another source of information.” I saw my Bible, and before I opened it I prayed with all my heart for God to show me what I needed to know about this situation.

Randomly opening to the book of Daniel, I found the story of the three men who had been thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to worship an image made by King Nebuchadnezzar. They wanted to worship only the one God. When the king looked into the furnace, he saw what he perceived as four men instead of just three, and they were walking around. He said, “The form of the fourth is like the Son of God,” and called for the men to come out. Not only were they not harmed, but not even “the smell of fire” was on them.

Reading this account reassured me. I understood that the healing presence of God’s love for humanity, which was later identified as the Christ-power supporting Jesus’ ministry, was present in the fiery furnace, saving those men. And I also saw that the same saving Christ is present and on the spot right now with everyone involved in the oil spill. The Christ always will be present for anyone and all of us. There need not be any lingering reminders or long-term effects from this situation.

Then I read the wonderful story of Daniel’s protection while in the lions’ den. I saw that there may be “lions,” in a sense, surrounding the situation in the Gulf, in the form of fear, hate, greed, jealousy, dishonesty, anger, resentment, hurt. And, like Daniel, I realized I could turn my back on these “lions” and see instead qualities of God that were and are the real power: strength, love, honesty, intelligence, trust, courage, peace, gratitude, and comfort. I could see the situation from a Christlike perspective instead of a lionlike perspective. I felt assured that just as Daniel’s innocence protected him, there is peace and safety and help for the innocent, including the wildlife and marine life.

Those biblical examples of protection also alerted me to watch what was in my thought, in my well of consciousness. If thinking that is not Godlike or Christlike tries to sneak in, I can trust that God’s love has already supplied the right thoughts I need to “contain” it. Then lionlike thoughts have no power to go anywhere or do anything.

As a result of this “briefing” from God, I looked for the good in the news. I was grateful for the 115 men who had been rescued. I was not discouraged even when the saw being used to cut the pipe failed halfway through the process. With millions of viewers, I watched with fascination the remotely operated vehicles working underwater to place the cap on the pipe, successfully. There were visible signs of cooperation beginning to take place among the top officials, and some progress being made on land as well as in the Gulf.

What a difference it made in looking at the news through a spiritual lens. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, wrote, “To the material sense, everything is matter; but spiritualize human thought, and our convictions change: for spiritual sense takes in new views, in which nature becomes Spirit; and Spirit is God, and God is good” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896,” pp. 217–218).

While it’s important to stay up to date on the news, I now know the most reliable and dependable news I can receive is the good news that comes directly from God. I can listen for His guidance and direction in knowing just where to turn for the most accurate, up-to-the-minute coverage of His universal love for all humanity.

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