Times of fear, time for prayer

Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Beverly Smith

Living and Growing

Thinking about the recent attacks on the public transportation in London, I'd like to offer some ideas of comfort and hope based on how I have been praying.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 41:10: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." This promise from God has been a foundation stone for me in my everyday life as well as during times of crisis.

After the events in London, and the subsequent heightened security precautions in the United States, memories of September 11, 2001 flooded my thought, and I asked myself, "Should I be afraid?"

In contemplating the answer to this question, I considered that ever since I was very small, I have believed that God loved me and was caring for me. I have never doubted this. I am not afraid because I know God, divine Love, is ever-present and all-powerful. I am inseparable from my divine parent, Father-Mother God.

Standing my ground and deciding not to be afraid is a positive step, but what more can I do here in Juneau to minimize the likelihood of some future terrorist act? Will the actions of one person matter in the overall scheme of things? I believe they do. I am reminded of Paul's admonition to the Romans (12:21): "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." How do I do that? Dark thoughts such as anger, revenge or hatred need to be replaced with the understanding that God created all individuals, and that He gives us the capability to love one another and live in harmony. Feelings of frustration, helplessness and vulnerability need to yield to the understanding that God gave man dominion and the ability to act constructively and with authority. Fascination with the horror of the attacks can be turned to acknowledgement of God's active government right at the scene, comforting the grief-stricken, healing the injured, and strengthening the aid workers. Any sense of evil should be rooted out of my thought before it takes form in action. Then I can listen for God's ideas, which are always good and productive.

I have found that putting these God-impelled ideas into practice brings harmony where there was discord, joy in place of sorrow, relief instead of burden, freedom in place of bondage and wholeness in the case of infirmity. Guided by God, divine Wisdom, I can go about my day loving my neighbor and fearlessly accomplishing what needs to be done. I find confidence in what Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 571), "At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil. Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you."

If each individual were to watch his or her own thoughts and eradicate any suggestions of evil, there would be nothing left that could develop into hurtful actions. When hate is replaced by love, there is no foundation left on which to base wrongful activity.

St. John said, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear." (I John 4:18) Human love can help us reduce fear and lessen evil, but fully embracing divine Love ensures the total absence of fear and the eventual elimination of evil. The Bible verse following the first one I quoted says, "Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing." (Isaiah 41:11) I rejoice that divine Love is ALL, and that the demise of evil is inevitable!

• Beverly Smith is first reader at First Church of Christ, Scientist, Juneau.

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