Protection during attack

It’s possible to know God as an active, protecting presence in our lives, as one young man experienced when attacked by a stranger on a city street.

As a child, I experienced several healings through reliance on Christian Science treatment, such as a broken arm that was perfectly healed within a few days. Experiences such as this led me to know God as an active presence in my experience, which helped me stay out of trouble as a teenager and gave me something practical to turn to when there were needs.

For instance, when I was a high school senior, one night I was in the city with a friend, and a man approached us on the sidewalk. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he drew back his fist to strike me. I recall mentally calling out to God for help in the moment of the attack.

The idea that God was present, and could help, instantly filled my thoughts, and I knew that I was safe. I found myself ducking in a way I’d never practiced. The man slid over my back from the momentum of his strike. The next thing I knew, he was sliding onto the sidewalk behind me.

Right away, a thought clearly from God replaced defensiveness and fear with compassion, and spoke to me of this man’s innocence as God’s beloved son. As I looked down, I knew that childlike innocence constituted this man’s true identity, regardless of the grotesque behavior, which was not in accord with his real, spiritual nature. I did not fear him.

My friend encouraged us to leave the scene, yet the man pursued us into a busy coffeehouse. Again I reached out wholeheartedly to God for help, and immediately felt a calm sense of direction. As the man tried to attack me a second time, I was again led to move in a particular way. This carried us both through the crowd to a place where we were safely separated. The man screamed and left. I was completely unharmed, as were my friend and the other people nearby.

My friend called the police. They picked the man up, invited me to identify him, and asked if I wished to press charges. I shared that I felt he needed to be in custody so others would be safe, but I sought no compensation or retribution.

When I arrived home late at night, my mother met me at the door and told me that she had felt impelled to stop her activities at the very time this had happened, and to give her full attention to praying for me. This was before cellphones. We’d had no contact.

That night I opened my Bible and “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. I read many comforting passages in these books that reassured me with the truth of God’s love for His creation. The many healing messages I read washed away any remaining sense of disturbance from the incident.

The next day, I was asked to testify in court. I would have preferred not to interact with this man again, but I prayed for the humility to yield to God’s will. As I did, I gained a great sense of peace and the surety that God was meeting everyone’s needs as things unfolded.

The court soon called back and said my testimony would not be needed because the defendant had asked for help overcoming his problems to ensure this kind of attack would not happen again. It was clear to me that God’s protecting love was enfolding and providing for us all.

Each of us can humbly turn to God and, as the Bible says, we can find that He is indeed “a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).

Adapted from a testimony published in the March 21, 2016, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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