When I heard about the bombing in Manchester, England, these words from the Bible came to me: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God” (Isaiah 40:1). As the news unfolded, it became clear how much comforting was needed.
As I reached out with an earnest desire to help, it struck me that the Latin root of the word “comfort” means “with strength.” How could I offer strength to those so far away? For me, strength, hope, and courage are found through prayer, and so many of my life experiences have shown prayer to be a deep comfort and help. As I prayed for those in Manchester and beyond, I thought of all the ways that strength could be apparent – as the courage to help people who were injured or terrified, as tenderness toward those who had lost loved ones, and as the mental clarity the authorities needed to establish and maintain calm.
I have come to see that these qualities come from God, so it must be that all the strength, love, and anything else that was needed would be present. My study of the Bible and of Christian Science has shown me that God is ever present for all of us, all the time, and that we are made by God. In times of crisis, this means we are made to resist being overwhelmed. It means we can let God inform us what to do and how to do it.
I recalled the strength and peace Jesus was said to have had during times of great danger and loss. The Bible speaks of Christ Jesus being a shepherd – guiding those who are lost, offering healing and comfort, and stilling storms both mental and physical. He knew God as a loving and faithful Father, ever present to help His children, and this enabled him to say “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
You and I can also experience this comfort, even in the face of tragic situations today. This is possible, not because we are ignoring the danger and suffering that occur, but because we understand – at least to a degree – God’s power to help and save us. Rather than be overwhelmed by evil, we can instead hold on with all our hearts to God as the supreme power, caring for and loving all of us.
God is Love. This means that whenever there is an evil event, it could never have come from God or been motivated in any way by Love. By the same token, it means that all the powers of good are motivating those seeking to establish peace, neighborliness among nations and within communities. As we trust in divine Love’s power to lead all people into peace, we will surely experience the comfort that is always available to us.
In the words of the Monitor’s founder, “May the great Shepherd that ‘tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,’ and binds up the wounds of bleeding hearts, just comfort, encourage, and bless all who mourn” (Mary Baker Eddy, “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 275).