When we look at the challenges in the world today, it can seem as though we’re helpless to find real solutions or to quiet fears. Every time I read the news, I think about whether we need to accept human predicaments as hopeless. Some years ago I had an experience that showed me that even in frightening circumstances we are actually never helpless and that no one is too fragile or too weak to do good and help overcome evil.
As a teenager in Germany, I spent some school vacations working in a bread factory. I was stationed in the packaging plant, where I fed large loaves of bread into two cutting machines. It was a noisy, solitary place, so I often sang. One of my favorite songs was from the “Christian Science Hymnal,” which tells us:
Assured and safe in Love’s protection,
Great peace have they, and unsought joy;
They rise from sin in resurrection,
And works of love their hands employ.
(William P. McKenzie, No. 381, © CSBD)
I love the message of God’s, divine Love’s, care for each of us. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, assures us: “Step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ ” (p. 444).
These ideas proved helpful when a dangerous situation arose in the factory one day. Two workers got into an argument that threatened to turn into a fistfight. In a place with forklifts and huge knives, pushing and shoving could quickly result in a tragedy even if no weapons were involved. I felt the absolute conviction that something needed to be done, so I turned to God.
Relying on God as our refuge and strength does not require weapons. It does, however, require a willingness to think differently about our fellow men, women, and children – to strive to see others as perfect, cherished, and free. Not in the sense of being humanly perfect, of course. Rather, in acknowledging that despite appearances, everyone’s true identity (including our own) is actually spiritual, formed in God’s image and likeness, and that God loves and watches over each and every one of His children at all times. This helps us see those around us as capable of being receptive to the good in their lives, the good God provides.
Being approached by a teenage girl was the last thing these workers expected, and it was completely out of character for me to interfere with two adult men on the verge of a physical altercation. But as I thought about how we are all “assured and safe” in divine Love, it came to me to remind them that they would lose their jobs if they continued this. Being fired for fighting would make finding a new job difficult, and they had families to support.
My two-sentence intervention was enough to cool off their anger, and both nodded. They thanked me and went back to work. And for the rest of the summer they shared homegrown tomatoes and Turkish cheese with me during lunch breaks. Being at the factory became a lot more fun for me, and there were no outbreaks of violence.
We are never helpless to support and bless others. All have the ability to hear, feel, and perceive God’s love for them. God tells us in the book of Jeremiah in the Bible: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you” (31:3, Amplified Bible). As God’s children, all of us are naturally drawn to good, to happiness, productivity, and growth, not to destruction and violence. God will show each of us how to prove that if we listen for His guidance.