“I’m not brave.” That’s what my very young daughter said to me in a sad little voice one evening at bedtime. She’d been having trouble sleeping on her own.
My reply? “You are brave.” I knew what she was made of; I’d seen her courage in action. “But you don’t even need to be brave,” I added, “because I’m sitting in the same room with you; I’m just not in the bed.” With that assurance, within minutes she was peacefully asleep.
Remembering this brief parental moment helped me a lot on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. As a New York City resident, I didn’t feel brave when I saw the news reports – or when I had to board a plane a week later. The only way I could feel any semblance of peace was to trust that even if I felt scared for the entirety of that flight, God was there. I wasn’t alone – and I was protected.
Why did I think that? Well, ever since I was old enough to read, I’d spent time studying the Bible and a companion book that I love, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. In both books, God, Spirit, is shown to be the protector of all His creation. The Bible says, “You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalms 4:8, New King James Version).
I totally get that it doesn’t always seem like that. But I had become convinced, through Christian Science healings and other spiritual experiences, that reality isn’t what we see with our eyes. Prayer enables us to glimpse what’s really divinely true.
I’m not talking about thinking good thoughts to make yourself feel better. I’m talking about the kind of effective prayer that Jesus taught and lived.
Jesus’ example shows that we can trust God for safety, whether conditions in our lives appear safe or not. And God’s protection doesn’t come to us only when we are in a crisis. It’s always with us as sons and daughters of God, made in His spiritual image and likeness. We are designed to be fearless and strong.
I believed that, but proving it required some trust in God, and I got there through prayer. There were some scary incidents over the next few years that initially seemed connected to terrorism. Being afraid is not fun; but even worse, it can sometimes make it hard to pray and hear God’s healing messages, so I was vigilant about dealing with any panic each time by opening my heart to God’s comfort.
As I did this consistently, I found that I was getting to know more about myself as God knows me. I was naturally exhibiting more courage and less fear. And I was often able to reassure others who were scared. I was starting to feel God more in my life and to experience big and small proofs of divine care and protection. My trust in God’s ever-present protection was growing and becoming more secure.
About eight years later, my daughter and I went to the Mall of America the day after Christmas. It was jampacked with shoppers. We were in a store with floor-to-ceiling windows when a huge brawl broke out in the hall outside. People were running, and some were being trampled. We were in the middle of a riot.
My first thought? I wondered if the windows were bulletproof. My second thought? No! Life is not a random series of experiences, some of them dangerous, that we can’t do anything about. That’s not the concept of Life, or God, that Christ Jesus taught.
This realization kept me from feeling afraid during this incident. I felt God’s care for everyone, not just for me. Inspiration came for how to get my daughter and myself out of the mall calmly, even as we heard someone yell “Gun!” and the crowd rushed. And though some might say what happened next was inexplicable, to me it was evidence of God’s protection: Our ride was rounding the building not far from us right as we exited the mall, and we hopped in.
We soon heard on the news that police had been able to deal with the situation and no one was injured.
Through prayer, each of us can understand more about the divine protection that is always available. We can be brave, because God is with us.
Adapted from an article published in the Christian Science Sentinel, March 9, 2020.