Comfort in response to the shootings in Colorado

A Christian Science perspective: The shootings in a theater in Aurora, Colo. early Friday prompted this resident of Aurora to offer comfort through prayer.

When tragedy strikes close to home, we ask why? We mull over the particular incident and try to find a reason for it.

I live in Aurora, Colo. My first response upon hearing the news of the theater shooting early Friday morning was shock and disbelief – shock and dismay at the picture of violence, hate, aggression, terrorism, practically on my doorstep.

But very quickly my thought turned to something better and reliable. For many years I’ve found that quickly turning to God in any situation, especially one that is filled with tragedy and grief, is the very best thing to do, and brings comfort and clear thinking.

I’ve learned that we don’t have to accept violence or evil of any kind as inevitable for ourselves and others, that we don’t have to accept that goodness is always mixed with evil, and that “that’s just the way things are.”

Instead of stoically accepting that bad things happen to good people, we can do something. And that something is simply – yet primarily – prayer.

Over the years I’ve learned that it’s essential to face down violence, tragedy, and grief with an unshaken conviction that God, the Supreme Being, has always been and will forever be unchanging in His all-embracing love and care for each one of us. Easy to say! And you may ask, how can this view of God help me and those caught in extreme situations where senseless terror seems to have the upper hand?

There’s help at hand as we turn to God’s Word. One of my favorite verses in the book of Psalms speaks of lifting our heads, of looking up: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.... The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil” (Psalm 121:1, 2, 7).

I have always loved this psalm, perhaps especially since my home is in this beautiful state with splendid mountain vistas and an uplifting, joyful evidence of beauty and goodness all around. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper repeated emphatically on the news, “This is a safe city, and a safe state.” Not only do I find joy and inspiration in looking at the hills and mountains, but I also find a deeper meaning in the words of the Psalmist, words that tell us to lift our thought higher than what the outward appearances present, mingling of good and bad, joy and sorrow, life and death.

In dire situations I have found comfort and strength in that psalm, not just by reading it, but by acknowledging in my heart that God is infinite Love, and that He cares for us infinitely.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, put it succinctly: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 494). That divine Love is right at hand, embracing the grieving heart as a parent embraces and comforts a child. Prayer acknowledging this fact can touch those grieving hearts in tangible ways – in the way that most meets their need at any given moment. Mrs. Eddy compassionately knew that “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” (p. 365). This priceless love of God reaches out to each suffering one right now, and heals the broken heart.

Mulling over this tragic incident, being shocked at the evidence of evil and lawlessness and senseless violence, keeps our prayers mired in the awful mud of fear and dismay, and is nonproductive. There is a better way. We can take a stand for the goodness inherent in God’s creation, and lift our prayers higher, never closing our eyes to our neighbor’s grief and suffering, but opening our eyes again and again to the comforting Father-Mother God, who is infinitely able to bring restoration, healing, comfort, and peace to His loved family. Eddy’s conviction of the supremacy of good is expressed in these comforting words: “No evidence before the material senses can close my eyes to the scientific proof that God, good, is supreme” ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 277). 

Good is more powerful than evil. Love is stronger than hate or fear, and Love never fails.

The city of Aurora is beautifully named. The word “Aurora” signifies dawn. I will continue to pray for the dawn of a new day of peace, brotherhood, loving kindness, not only in the city where I live, but on the entire planet.

I’m reminded of the popular song that opens with this line: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me..." by Jill Jackson and Sy Miller. Each prayer, each desire to comfort, each expression of love for our neighbor, is filled with God’s power to heal. This helps us move toward peace on earth.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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