by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.
In the past few weeks, newspapers and the airwaves have been filled with scenes and news of devastation and images of despair. Yet scattered among the procession of tragedies have been incredible tsunami survivor accounts. Stories that captivate the heart and fill the soul with hope. Stories that respond to the ages-old question – “How could God allow this to happen?” – with illustrations that protest, “He couldn’t. He wouldn’t. He didn’t.”
One survival story has changed my life. Before I read her story, I had been having bad dreams, almost daily, imagining myself being overcome by massive waves. I would wake up in a sweat of fear vowing there can’t be a situation where God’s helping hand can’t reach me and save me. But during my dreams my heart would again sink with doubts and little confidence.
Reading her survival account has given me encouragement to meet disaster or catastrophe in life. I thought if she can survive a tsunami of this proportion, what can I not survive, endure or overcome?
I found her story on the website, www.spirituality.com and my attention was first grabbed by its title, “From a tsunami survivor: ‘I will not die’.” It was the story of a woman from Singapore who was in Sri Lanka for the wedding of her niece, along with other family members and friends. They were, like many others I’ve read about, having breakfast in their beach hotel when the monstrous wall-high waves hit. I was immediately drawn into her experience – not knowing how to swim, being crushed by furniture and other debris as she reached out for something to save her.
It took my breathe away when she told the first thought that came to her as she tumbled in the water. Words from the Bible, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” But this promise was not at first enough to give her assurance. More thoughts came to her, some giving her direction such as “Cycle…paddle…use your legs.” Remember I said she didn’t know how to swim. She thought of Jesus calming a storm on the sea with those powerful three words, “Peace, be still.” And also the words, “…know that God is here.” And again that declaration, “I shall not die, but live…” She said that it really is true how your life flashes through your mind at such a moment of life and death.
I was comforted that in her extreme peril, she received what she described as “angel thoughts”. In her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy defines angels as “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions…” As I read all the “angel thoughts” this woman heard or felt, Eddy’s words, “These angels deliver us from the depths” seemed poignantly true.
I’ve decided perhaps it’s not necessary to try and explain why bad things happen or where evil comes from. But the need is to learn how to conquer evil. How even against all odds, I could be victorious. I could be saved. I could be healed. And my survival is what destroys evil by proving it powerless over me.
I think to begin, I need to know that God is not a destroyer, but a Creator. A protector. A preserver of humanity. A God of love. As the book of Job says, God is not in the wind, earthquake or fire. But God is the “still small voice” that is present no matter how dire the situation and will direct me to safety. Then maybe my prayers based on this knowledge could help others, too.
Certainly, I may never be faced with a tsunami. But there are other faces of evil that cause me fear. The threat of tornados. Death of loved ones. Illness. Accident. Injury.
Do I give up? Do I believe there is no hope? Do I resolve to a life of chance, vulnerability, and uncertainty?
The inspiration I’ve gained from one woman’s victory over a formidable foe, has strengthened my confidence and trust in the mightiest power of all – the Divine. While I may face struggles and hardships that at times bring me to my knees, I can be assured that the “still small voice” will be with me, will lift me up and guide me onward and upward to a new day. To solutions. Freedom. Peace. Comfort. Healing.
May I have the strength and faith to look at my adversities and proclaim, “I shall not die, but live…”