SO-CALLED ``natural disasters, such as the fierce hurricane that recently struck the Bahamas, southern Florida, and moved into the Louisiana area, are never really natural. Devastated homes, shattered stop lights and street signs, fallen trees, are anything but normal. Yet there are people in those conditions who are faced with the difficult work of restoring order. Even if we live far from the affected area, each of us can do our part by helping through our prayer.
One psalm in the Bible that has meant a lot to me over the years has some wonderful ideas about where we can find true shelter from whatever storms may surround us. It declares, ``God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. This loving God is the actual foundation of the order we seek. He is with us now and with all those who are in trouble. And our prayers can help us to see the tangible, healing presence of God right where storm and devastation seem to be uppermost.
In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives us an explanation of God that can bring new inspiration to our prayers. In response to the question ``What is God? Mrs. Eddy writes: ``God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.
Through prayer we can affirm the presence of each of these aspects of God. For example, divine Mind is the source of all intelligence, a wonderful antidote to the mindless fury of a storm's destructiveness. As we turn to divine wisdom and understand that each of us is actually the child of this Mind, we can see intelligent action begin to replace what seems so unintelligent. Turning to this all-loving God also begins to lift the weight of fear because we are looking away from the finite, material picture
to the fact that, regardless of the human scene, God's goodness and peace are present.
God is also divine Principle, the source of all spiritual law. This universal order touches the heart and stems the materialistic tendencies toward looting and disorder. Man, because he is, in God's eyes, spiritual, has a natural inclination toward goodness; this is, in fact, the substance of his real nature. Christ Jesus' ministry shows that God, divine Love, is always with us and will meet our every need. No one can be cut off from His care. Like the Biblical shepherd with his sheep, God is with us eve n as we go ``through the valley of the shadow of death, as the Psalmist puts it.
As our prayers affirm the reality of God's presence and His readiness to heal, we will find increasing evidence of His tender care. For example, the area where I live was hit by a hurricane about a year ago, and we were without power for several days. Yet as I prayed to understand God's power and presence--to really feel His guidance and governance--we experienced peace and harmony despite these conditions. Within a much shorter time than expected, power was restored.
This is a small example, but it shows that as we look for evidence of God's presence, even in seemingly hopeless situations, we will find it. The forms it takes may be simple things like a telephone line that kept working despite devastation all around or the one room in the house where the roof remained intact and provided shelter during the storm. God is a refuge--now and always--and through our prayers we are able to begin proving what is truly natural and overturning what is unnatural.