We watched entranced as the shuttle rose into the clear Florida morning. Seconds later it was obvious that something was terribly wrong. There was an explosion, we saw the rocket separate, and the space mission came to an abrupt halt. After the initial disbelief, we shared the shock and the tears of all those who witnessed the scene, whether at the launch site or at home on television. Then we asked ourselves what we could do in a time of tragedy such as this. Is there anything that can be done to help heal the shock and the sadness?
Obviously one of the first concerns is for the relatives and friends who are left behind. Christ Jesus said, ``Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.'' 1 We can pray to understand more clearly that God, divine Love, is always present and that His presence can be felt by those in need, bringing comfort and strength to go on. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote compassionately to one who was bereaved: ``Trust in Him whose love enfolds thee. . . . Divine Love is never so near as when all earthly joys seem most afar.'' 2
Turning to God for help, each one can feel the tenderness and guidance of Love. As one discerns in prayer the love of God, who is changeless good, needs are fulfilled, whether for support, direction, or strength.
It is important also to understand that man's life does not come to an abrupt end. God is Life, and all life stems from Him, so man's life must be as eternal as God is. Jesus proved this when he restored a young girl to life, raised his friend Lazarus, who had been in the tomb several days, and when he himself rose out of the tomb.3 Those in the tragedy we witnessed continue to express all the qualities we have come to appreciate in them, because their identities are actually spiritual, indestructible. Such qualities as joy, beauty, strength, and intelligence cannot be extinguished in death. Man, as God's very likeness, cannot be destroyed. To the extent that our understanding of God as eternal Life deepens, we will perceive this more clearly. Sometimes it is necessary to trust these spiritual facts even when the only proof of them that we're aware of is in Jesus' example. Certainly we can trust God's care of those we love, although they may be outside our human care at this time.
There's no easy answer to the question of why these terrible tragedies occur. However, they alert us to pray more diligently when we know of events that involve danger or that may arouse fear or criticism. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget that there is apprehension and danger that could be negated by prayer. When we turn in prayer to God and acknowledge with conviction His might and presence, fears can be dissolved and unseen hazards can be revealed.
When it is more fully realized that the true nature of God's creation is spiritual and that He governs man in perfect harmony, we will cease to believe that such accidents are inevitable. Man is in reality not governed by chance but by the laws of God, which never fail to maintain man in perfection and safety.
As decisions are made about future launches, it is important, too, to realize that God is the all-knowing Mind. As the result of prayer that perceives man to be the image of Mind, those involved can be guided to make right decisions, and whatever needs to be known to make any necessary adjustments will be made plain.
The deep desire to help others who grieve causes us to turn to God for strength and guidance. Then we are helped to rise above tragedy and genuinely to comfort those that mourn. 1 Matthew 5:4. 2 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 290. 3 See Mark 5:22, 23, 35-43; John 11:1-44; John 19:16-30; John 20:11-18.