Finding calm amid chaos
A Christian Science perspective: Even in frightening situations, we can turn to God and find peace and protection.
One stormy night, Christ Jesus, in a boat with his disciples, began a journey across the Sea of Galilee (see Mark 4:36-39). The gale became so bad and the sea grew so rough that it looked as though they were about to founder and be lost.
There in that wind-blown darkness, the boat tossed high by ominous waves, Jesus spoke these words: “Peace, be still.” More than a plea, it was a prayer – an acknowledgment of a divine presence. So much more powerful than any storm, this pacifying presence Jesus felt was the nearness of his Father, God, who the Bible says “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
It wasn’t unusual at all for Jesus to become still inside, even in the middle of turmoil, and to sense the presence of divine tranquility and power. As I picture that scene on the sea, I like to consider the contrast between the violent storm and Jesus’ quiet prayer affirming, “Peace, be still” – to imagine the serene composure that Jesus must have been feeling.
Quickly, the wind stopped, and a great calm spread over the sea. That must have been an unforgettable experience for Jesus’ disciples. Is such unruffled trust in God possible today – trust that allows us to be calm, confident, and even comforted amid storms of illness, injustice, animosity, and lack?
Gratefully, it is. Not just in Jesus’ time but here and now, God, divine Love, is still caring for each of us, God’s spiritual children. We can turn to God and find peace, protection, and healing.
Here is a modest example. One morning, I was out with my family, walking in the New Mexico desert not far from where we live. My daughter was riding her pony. We stopped to rest, and when my daughter dismounted, my then-preschool-aged son climbed on. He had ridden this very docile pony before. However, a few moments later, the horse unexpectedly bolted off toward home, disappearing over a cactus-covered rise. I knew there was a barbed-wire fence between where we were and our house, and I was afraid that if the horse stopped abruptly, my son would get thrown.
As I quickly headed in that direction, I felt tossed by a wave of panic. But in that moment I knew, and definitely could feel, that even in what looked like complete chaos, the spiritual reality was that there was only one authority in place: God’s. I felt an inner, unflustered stillness, and in that moment of fervent prayer, God’s presence and control became solidly clear to me. The feeling of panic surprisingly dissipated, leaving some sense of calmness.
I was feeling what Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy talks about in one of her writings, where she describes the basis for true, spiritual peace: “The best spiritual type of Christly method for uplifting human thought and imparting divine Truth, is stationary power, stillness, and strength; and when this spiritual ideal is made our own, it becomes the model for human action” (“Retrospection and Introspection,” p. 93).
In that stationary stillness, I strove to yield my whole thought to the exceedingly abundant power of the divine Truth that is God. As I did so, my thought became uplifted and exalted – in fact, words can hardly describe how deeply I felt God’s goodness. This all happened so much more quickly than it takes to describe.
When I got to that fence, the horse was standing there next to it, but about 50 feet away was my son, also standing, completely unharmed. He said that just before reaching the fence, his stirrup had unexpectedly disconnected from the saddle – an unusual occurrence that I’d never experienced in my years working with horses – and he had safely slipped off into a sandy spot. The next thing he did was walk over to pat and forgive the pony.
I look back with great gratitude for what I learned and experienced that morning about the practicality of God’s peace and power. It truly applies to everyone, everywhere. In the textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy explains: “Through divine Science, Spirit, God, unites understanding to eternal harmony. The calm and exalted thought or spiritual apprehension is at peace” (p. 506). Today, amid storms of chaos, jealousy, sickness, and sin, we can prayerfully seek a fuller understanding of the “power, stillness, and strength” that can help to bring victory over inharmony and danger.