When tragedy strikes
God doesn’t send or cause calamity; rather, opening our hearts to God’s wholly good nature and presence inspires strength, peace of mind, and healing.
Tragedies seem to happen all too often. For instance, recently devastating storms struck the Midwest region of the United States, resulting in injuries as well as deaths. In one case, a 5-month-old baby died when his parents’ house was destroyed. The parents survived; the baby didn’t. The news report of this loss was particularly heartbreaking.
When such tragedies have occurred, the questions are often asked, “Where was God when all this happened? It’s so unfair that such innocence would be destroyed. Was God absent? Did God allow it?”
There are no quick, easy answers, especially for those who have suffered losses like this. But as we wrestle with these kinds of questions and feel God’s love and care more tangibly, there are answers that can truly help us grow spiritually. The darkest hour is just before the dawn.
The Science of Christianity provides such answers. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, was well acquainted with tragedy and loss in her own life. In the depths of despair and suffering, she discovered the laws undergirding Christ Jesus’ healing mission, and she went on to share this discovery with the world in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.”
At one point in this book she wrote: “This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death. The perfect man – governed by God, his perfect Principle – is sinless and eternal” (p. 304).
Clearly, this perfect, eternal man (a term that includes everyone) that Science and Health refers to is not a mortal, vulnerable to disaster. It’s our true, spiritual identity as God’s children. In the midst of devastation and destruction the physical senses are presenting, it’s easy to lose sight of the spiritual fact that God, Spirit, is the Life of us all. This divine Life is ever present, enabling us to recognize the permanence of Life, our inseparability from Life, which can never be lost.
This truth is what was behind Christ Jesus’ comforting words: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
In this human experience, good and evil, life and death, love and fear, health and disease, appear to commingle and fight with each other for ascendancy. But Christian Science, based on the life and teachings of Christ Jesus, is here to reveal the wonderful spiritual reality that God alone is supremely powerful and ever present; that God’s nature includes only good; and that as the Bible puts it, God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13). As God’s children, made in His spiritual image, or reflection, we are inseparable from our creator.
Christian Science doesn’t promise that we won’t go through trials. But as I’ve experienced in my own life, we can rely on its promise that as we learn more of God’s true nature, and of everyone’s nature as God’s spiritual idea, we will realize more fully the peace, strength, and harmony that God has bestowed on everyone. Science and Health explains: “When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path. Imperfect mortals grasp the ultimate of spiritual perfection slowly; but to begin aright and to continue the strife of demonstrating the great problem of being, is doing much” (p. 254).
I’ve been heartened to hear about countless people who, in the wake of disaster, have come to help their neighbors out of deep love and compassion. As we gain, through prayer, a clearer sense of God’s love, presence, and power, we find the hope, strength, and peace that come from realizing that life can never truly be lost and that divine Love prevails – and this enables us to help others who have suffered great loss find comfort, too.