Hope in the midst of disaster

The hurricanes that resulted in devastation in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean Islands, have also brought out the best in mankind – as millions of dollars are being raised and first responders are performing heroic acts beyond measure.

As we continue to observe the results of the flood waters, my heart goes out to all of these people.  I’ve seen the effects of flooding, but I have also seen proof that prayer is an effective help before, during, and after a devastating storm.  I am reminded of this verse from the Bible: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59: 19).

But who is the “enemy” when the flood isn’t an army, but powerfully flowing water?  Isn’t the enemy not just water, but also fear, worry, discouragement and an overwhelming sense of loss?  These negative states of mind represent the feeling that God is absent and that we are left alone to grapple with forces beyond our control.  Yet the Bible promises, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46: 10).  How do we make this promise practical in our lives?

I have found this statement from Christian Science Discoverer and Founder Mary Baker Eddy very helpful during times of fear and worry: “There is no power apart from God.  Omnipotence has all-power, and to acknowledge any other power is to dishonor God” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 228).  Distress and worry try to persuade us that God is absent or there is no God, and that we are helpless before destructive forces.  But to recognize that God is present and has all-power can alleviate fear and terror, and empower us with wisdom and fortitude.  It can even subdue the forces of nature.

Jesus proved this.  When on a boat with his disciples in the middle of a storm, he quieted the storm simply by declaring, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4: 39).  He wasn’t just quieting the weather; he was also dispelling the terror the disciples were feeling.  While we may not have Jesus’ level of confidence in God, it is a spiritual fact that anyone, anywhere, truly has omnipotent help right at hand.  This help may take many different forms, such as protection, or a rescue, or even an inspired idea about how to hold back the water.

There was a time when our town was hit with a torrential rainstorm.  Seventeen inches of rain fell overnight.  When I woke at 2 a.m., water had filled up the basement window wells and was pouring into our basement.  While my wife used our wet vac, and I went outside to empty and re-empty the window wells, my 8-year-old daughter held a bucket underneath one window trying to catch the water.  But we were fighting a losing battle.

We called a water extraction company and they said that we were number 200 on their list and to just consider our basement a total loss.  We had recently remodeled this basement into a playroom for the kids and an office for me.  I had just cancelled the flood insurance because it had increased in price.

As I was carrying the books, computers and furniture from my office to another room upstairs, I opened to the statement from Eddy quoted above about God’s omnipotence.  I repeated that quote–loudly– acknowledging the all-power of God, good, over the din of the vacuum and the water pouring in.  It was my prayer of affirmation of God’s all-presence and power.

As I voiced those statements over and over, I began to feel the spiritual authority behind them.  At some point the truth behind them meant more to me than the water coming into my basement.  It was at that point the water stopped coming in.  It was still raining and would continue to rain for another four hours, but the water stopped coming in.  It took many more hours of using the wet vac and days of using industrial strength fans to dry out the basement, but we had no loss at all.

What I learned from this experience is that none of us can be separated from God’s loving care.  Even when disaster leads to a loss of property–or worse, the loss of loved ones–turning to God’s love in humble prayer can bring the strength, courage and intelligence to go on.  This leads to mental as well as physical restoration, not just living with grief but letting God heal it. Tangibly feeling Love’s tender care, we’ll find new empowerment, wholeness, wisdom and perseverance.  And under divine Mind’s guidance we can expect to find ways to ameliorate environmental degradation, make wise decisions, and protect our homes.

Prayer can help us understand that we are more than just fragile mortals trapped in a disaster; instead, we have a spiritual nature, forever embraced in the presence of divine Love.  Prayer can give us a sense of our God-given dominion, mental equilibrium, courage and strength.  This understanding prayer not only comforts, but restores a full sense of goodness in our lives.

©2017 Christian Science Committee on Publication for Illinois

Picture ©Glowimages

 

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5 Responses to Hope in the midst of disaster

  1. Pingback: Hope in the midst of disaster | Seeker of Truth

  2. Sandi says:

    It is so helpful that you can speak from your own experience.

  3. B.J. says:

    Good to know that there is always something we can do when the challenges seem so far away! Thanks again, Tim.

  4. Janice Ritter says:

    The reminder of who the enemy is – fear, worry, feeling of loss, etc. – and then that God is our refuge, strength, and an ever-present help is a wonderful guide to praying for those in areas of disaster. Thank you, Tim!

  5. Steve Cole says:

    You say that, “At some point the truth behind them [statements from Science and Health] meant more to me than the water coming into my basement. It was at that point the water stopped coming in.” Wow! Look at how the change in the mental state was immediately manifested in the physical. This shows where the control of our experience lies. To me that is powerful teaching. Thanks so much.

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