When tragedy strikes: a prayerful response to the shootings in Connecticut

A Christian Science perspective: A prayer for comfort after the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn.

When tragedy strikes, deep sorrow and compassion for all those touched by it well up in all who have hearts. And when it strikes close to home, it resonates with even more urgency. Wanting to reach out to help those hurt, and to make a difference so it can’t happen again is such a natural response. Genuine, heartfelt. It’s Love (God) reflected in our precious love for one another.

Yesterday’s horrific school shooting spree in my own home state was a wake-up call to me. It showed me how important our first thoughts are to be an influence for good in any tragic situation. When news of it reached me, I was 100 miles from the scene. Earlier I’d been pondering deeply a Bible verse I’d opened to first thing in the morning: God “is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.” It went on, promising that “God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy” (Zephaniah 3:15, 17). But now, suddenly it was just words. God’s love felt so distant, and evil so overwhelming and all-encompassing.

For a moment I felt utterly helpless, and those words that had been so inspiring now felt “tinny.” Yet they kept coming back to me. Deep down inside, I knew that my conviction of God’s all-power, presence, and love right at that point of urgent need was divine law in action, and that sticking with this understanding was prayer in action – the most effective way I could be of immediate help to those dear ones. I resolved to do exactly that.

That commitment lifted me up on prayerful tip-toes, and suddenly those words from the Bible were no longer tinny, but rang with divine authority. And my prayer came to life. I saw the Bible didn’t promise that evil wouldn’t insist on being seen, but that (here’s what it said to me) I needn’t  be overwhelmed by it because God’s great love (closer to each of us than the very air we breathe) is so much greater. As a loved hymn says, “The thought of Thee is mightier far/ Than sin and pain and sorrow are.” The hymn ends, “Thou turn’st my mourning into praise” (Samuel Longfellow, “The Christian Science Hymnal” (No. 134).

All day in my thought I kept hugging those parents, children, teachers, and everyone involved, knowing with spiritual certainty that God’s ever-present love can never be overthrown, and that it is seen and felt by receptive hearts everywhere in meaningful, tangible ways – comforting, guiding, uplifting us above sorrow and grief.

The immediate outpourings of love evidenced by the churches, neighbors, firefighters, and care-givers in that community are all sweet expressions of God’s unstoppable love. Those dear ones in Newtown cannot be deprived of the light and comfort – and yes, even the spiritual joy – of the Christ this Christmas. It will spring up deep from within with a strength and substantiality perhaps not realized before. A Christmas article written by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy mentions households with loved ones missing at Christmastime. She tenderly noted, “God give to them more of His dear love that heals the wounded heart” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 257). God is Love. His love for His children is never nearer and dearer than at times like this.

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