A refuge for Indonesians

A Christian Science perspective.

“Love is our refuge,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor (“Poems,” p. 4). She was speaking of God as divine Love, who is ever present. Right now, the people of Indonesia need to feel the healing presence of this spiritual refuge, even as they seek human refuge from what appear to be growing natural disasters.

Indonesia’s most active volcano, Merapi, has erupted several times and still hasn’t quieted down. As of this writing, the dangerous conditions have displaced 69,000 people and killed 38. Reports earlier this week indicated that 21 of Indonesia’s other volcanoes have begun to rumble. And as if volcanic activity weren’t enough, the nation’s Mentawai Islands were hit by a tsunami, triggered by a 7.7-magnitude underwater quake last week. Sixteen thousand people have been displaced, 431 were killed, and more are still missing.

At least one geophysicist, Pall Einarsson of the University of Iceland, believes that the volcanoes are affecting one another. Geologist Brent McInnes, a professor at Australia’s Curtin University, suggests that this increased activity could mean “a major plate restructuring” is going on (“Indonesia Volcano Shoots New Blast; 21 More Rumble, The New York Times, Nov. 1). Such theories indicate that these events could pose a wider danger and should not be ignored.

While most readers of this article won’t be in or near Indonesia physically, each of us can draw near to its people in our hearts. First, we can embrace all of them, whether they are affected by the volcanoes or by the tsunami, with compassion, especially for those whose lives and livelihoods have been disrupted by the danger. Many have had to virtually abandon homes, flocks, and herds near the volcano. Those rendered homeless by the tsunami also need to feel Love’s presence and guidance.

In prayer, it’s possible to recognize that no matter where they are, divine Love really is their refuge and the refuge of all they are concerned about – whether it’s their much-needed livestock, destroyed homes, or missing loved ones. Divine Love can care for them, bring them peace of mind and heart, and enable them to act with wisdom, especially in the face of the still active volcano. Divine Love will not let them lose their hope and vision for the future.

A New Testament writer makes some specific points about divine Love, declaring that we dwell in God, in Love, and that “perfect love casteth out fear” (see I John 4:16, 18). We are appealing in prayer to that same Love. God alone is able to provide the healing presence that will lift fear from people’s hearts and sustain them until peace has been restored to their parts of the world. As the psalmist sang, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.... God shall send forth his mercy and his truth” (Ps. 57:1, 3).

Even now, that mercy is empowering rescuers as they strive to help their fellow men and women in this time of trouble. And God’s truth is also revealing that difficult conditions don’t have to overwhelm their ability to see and to do good. Even in the midst of dramatic disorder, our prayers can help support the spiritual order that will provide a stable foundation for progress.

Prayer is also a powerful defense against disease, which has its roots in fear. In an article called “Contagion,” Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “A calm, Christian state of mind is a better preventive of contagion than a drug, or than any other possible sanative method; and the ‘perfect Love’ that ‘casteth out fear’ is a sure defense” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 229).

Under Love’s care, no one can be overwhelmed by fear or despair. Love provides wisdom for all involved in dealing with this disaster. It will prevent rescuers and others from being affected by the sights they see or discouraged by the sheer labor of restoring homes and community. Divine wisdom will guide everyone involved.

Love truly is their refuge and ours. No matter what storms we may face or the challenges ahead for Indonesians, God’s love is right there to guide all of us into a better place.

For an Indonesian translation of this article, see The Herald of Christian Science.

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