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No repository for disasters

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

As if decades of war, internal strife, invasion by foreign nations, Taliban tyranny, and a long drought weren't enough, the devastating earthquakes in Afghanistan, with casualties numbering in the thousands, underscore even more vividly the need for massive outside help.

Within hours of the temblor, the interim government of Afghanistan – clearly incapable of providing the disaster relief the quake's aftereffects call for – appealed to the international community for aid. And aid is pouring in. Financial contributions to the International Red Cross will provide blankets, food, temporary shelter, and other basic necessities. These contributions to the International Red Cross can be made directly to them (www.ifrc.org).

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Another call, to the Almighty, is also in order. Since so many tragedies have piled on this ravaged region, it might seem almost as though Afghanistan were a sort of repository for disasters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing could be more foreign to the divine design. No assessment could more completely overlook the truth that the Giver of all good doesn't overlook any of us, or any locale we inhabit.

The Psalmist seems to have anticipated this wrong assessment. He describes a scene of mountains shaking, of war raging, of desolation pervading the whole landscape. And then he shifts his focus and describes what must be a healing promise. "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early" (Ps. 46:4, 5).

Can we find this city of God? Could we, through prayer and a firmer grasp of what is spiritually at work, begin to perceive this city right where a ravaged scene makes the headlines? Would that perception make a healing difference?

What the Psalmist calls the city of God is spiritual, not physical, in essence. So it is bigger than Kabul, bigger than Manhattan. For that matter, it's bigger than the planet. And it includes no repository for disasters. It includes no accommodation for evils of any kind. In a sense, it resolves the whole question of tragic happenings by crowding them out with the knowledge of God's all-pervading goodness.

The spiritual radicalism of the Psalmist – and of the other Old Testament prophets, and most of all of Christ Jesus – flies in the face of common reason and assessment. But it also paves the way for healing today, even in some of the globe's saddest settings. Because even the slightest glimpse of God's all-presence begins to unleash the transforming power of Spirit. Then it's not just a case of the blues receding in one's thought. The human condition as a whole gets better. Locations where too many bad things have happened begin to get the help they need. Recovery begins.

Yes, relief agencies play an indispensable role. And that role unfolds more effectively as we each perceive that no space is divinely given to disasters; all space is given to the city of God – the state of consciousness that the Psalmist and others have found to be so healing: the consciousness of God's all-encompassing goodness.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, shared the same spiritual conviction that the Psalmist had. She glimpsed the power of Spirit to displace every phase of evil and disaster. She wrote in her main work, "Where the spirit of God is, and there is no place where God is not, evil becomes nothing, – the opposite of the something of Spirit" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 480).

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This spiritual insight is already true. As we ground our prayers in its truth, those prayers will make a healing difference.

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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