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November's earthquake in southern Italy, with its tragic loss of life and property, stirred many people to great depths of compassion. After the initial shock, questions begin to clamor for answers. What can possibly justify such a mindless display of power? Why were so many innocent victims claimed? Must life be so precarious?

Those are hard questions. Are there any believable answers? Can anything be done for the survivors, those wounded in body or spirit, on a scale commensurate with their suffering? Well, there is indeed "balm in Gilead." There are answers , and they are found in turning to the very creator of the universe itself: God. Christian Science inculcates that God is Father-Mother. And nothing less than His omniscient fathering and mothering could possibly bring real and lasting peace to this calamity.

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First let us discover, so much as this brief space allows, what God has done and what He has not done. Though all-powerful,m He has not caused, could not cause, disaster. God being Love's very self, His power is exclusively loving, never harmful. He is also, as the Bible teaches, divine Spirit. Therefore His thoughts and acts -- His laws -- must be spiritual. Deity, Spirit, did not make destructive or destructible matter, nor can He be found in it. All people have the God-given, timeless ability to perceive this today just as centuries ago it was perceived by the prophet Elijah. In obedience of God's command, he stood upon the mount: "And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." n1

n1 I Kings 19:11, 12.

Christ Jesus also knew that voice. He understood God to be impartial, omnipresent good, whose offspring is spiritual man, the perfect, immortal reflection of Truth.He further knew and proved through restoring harmony in every conceivable circumstnace that evil is error, the counterfeit of true being , and the spurious image of false, mortal mentality -- what he called "a lair, and the father of it." n2

n2 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.

Because Principle, God, is Mind, the only true intelligence, the calamities of mortal existence are images appearing to the false mortal mind that fathers them. The real man is untouched by sin, illness, accident, and is never, even momentarily, separated from his Father-Mother Mind. God is Life, and man, as God's manifestation or evidence, never dies.

In the wake of the Italian catastrophe have come disturbing news reports of organized profiteering and heinous baby markets. But there are concurrent, extensive reports of outpourings of compassionate aid from communities around the world -- clothing, tents, blankets, cash. Which is the heartwarming evidence of immortal good or God, which not? Still other news stories contain dark prognostications of an aftermath of disease. Material gifts may not easily counter this trend, but gifts of prayer can. In the difficult months ahead of reestablishing homes and healing hearts, those who have proved the power of prayer in their own lives can surely allot some daily time to lifting the burdens of grief and destruction from those victims. Mary Baker eddy n3 writes, "When error strives to be heard above Truth, let the 'still small voice' produce God's phenomena." n4

n3 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.

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The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 249.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10

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