When people are lost without any explanation, their friends and relatives are left with unanswerable questions: What happened? How did it happen? Did they suffer? These are some of the questions that people worldwide are asking about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared over two weeks ago and has now been declared “lost” by authorities. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those onboard.
I can identify with them. A number of years ago, a family friend failed to return from a day hike in the rugged mountains of eastern Oregon. After nearly a week of search and rescue operations, the search was canceled. Our friend was never found. I was left with nagging questions: What happened to him? How could something like this happen to an experienced mountaineer? Did he suffer?
There were no human answers to my questions, so I turned to God, who for me is the source of all understanding. Intellectually, I believed Christ Jesus’ words, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28, 29). I prayed to know that not one of God’s ideas – each of us, including my friend – could be removed from God’s love and care.
I thought about the God-given qualities my friend expressed and how these qualities could never be removed from my experience. I contemplated a passage from Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Life is eternal. We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof. Life and goodness are immortal. Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight” (p. 246), and endeavored to put it into practice. Every time I thought about my friend, I thought about his life being lovely and continuous, not subject to destruction.
After a couple of weeks of prayer along these lines, one day when I asked again, “But, God, what happened to him?” I heard softly and clearly, “He just kept walking.” I took this as an answer from God. Instantly I had closure. I realized that our family friend continued to live and go about his business, even though I couldn’t see him anymore. I didn’t need to know if he suffered or what happened to his body, because he is more than his body. He is continuing to express the Life that is God. Jesus’ message about eternal life came alive in a fresh way.
The continuing forensic analysis of the data from Flight 370 is very interesting to me. I hope that the searchers and analysts find enough evidence to determine the cause of the disappearance to help prevent such incidents in the future. But my prayers are with the families and friends, so that they find closure in the certainty that their loved ones continue to live and carry out happy, productive lives, under the care of their divine Father, God.