When I heard about the New York City bombing on West 23rd Street not long ago, I immediately began to pray. The bomb went off in my old neighborhood, and as memories flashed through my mind, so did the conviction that even at that moment, God could help those who were affected, whether they were injured or aiding those in trouble. As the Bible puts it: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear” (Psalms 46:1, 2).
My confidence in this thought comes from the study of Christian Science, which follows Christ Jesus’ teachings that God is an all-powerful, all-loving, and all-good presence. This presence of God is with us everywhere we go, because, as the Bible explains, God made us to express His goodness and wisdom (see Genesis 1:26-27, 31). God’s thoughts to us, which are sometimes referred to as His angels, give us spiritual intuitions about what to do and when to do it. They give us strength and comfort in times of trouble.
Psalms 139:7-10 speaks eloquently of this divine comfort and care: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
Some years ago, I had a work-related assignment in a city known for its violence and danger. I spent a lot of time in prayer before I left on this trip, recognizing that if God is ever-present, and I truly believe He is, then He had to be present in this city – and not just for me, but for all the people and creatures there. In other words, divine Love was with everyone, even if they didn’t know it. I didn’t have to pack God in my luggage to take with me and keep me safe. He was already there.
During this trip, the affirmation of Love’s presence was my constant prayer. It helped keep me alert and see people in a new light. For example, one day in a downtown area I noticed a woman looking eagerly at my briefcase as though she intended to grab it. Instead of being afraid, I quickly affirmed that God was right there, lovingly guiding both me and this woman. As I prayed this way and tightened my grip on my briefcase, she turned away, and there was no incident.
Another time on the trip, I stood on the edge of a particular high-crime area one of my colleagues had warned me about. It was dangerous for outsiders like me, particularly as it was difficult to get help in some of the more isolated areas, and I was mostly traveling on foot. But in spite of the danger, I felt compelled to enter it. The buildings were so different from the ones where I lived and I thought of all the reasons why it would be a good idea to see it. But before I took any action, a sharp, spiritual intuition came to me that I should not go in.
This statement from Mary Baker Eddy in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” came to mind: “The footsteps of thought, rising above material standpoints, are slow, and portend a long night to the traveller; but the angels of His presence – the spiritual intuitions that tell us when ‘the night is far spent, the day is at hand’ – are our guardians in the gloom” (p. 174).
In other words, was I going to follow the “footsteps of thought” that said, “Go ahead into danger”? Or was I going to heed the advice of my colleague and follow what the spiritual intuition, the angel, was telling me? I chose to listen to the “angels of His presence,” and turned away.
Later – without my even asking – my colleague, who knew the area, took me for a drive through it, describing it in detail. So I did get to see the buildings and learn about its history, but did so in safety.
Today, as I continue to pray about God’s ever-present guidance, I affirm that God’s protecting angels are heard and are leading each one of us out of harm, guiding us wherever we are.