The cover article of the May 20, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel explores one man’s way of finding healing after experiencing tragic circumstances. Johnsrud draws a parallel between his horrific personal experience and that of the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing. His approach speaks to matters of the heart and what he found effective in his efforts to heal the immediate feelings of loss and anger.
By Richard Johnsrud
God has given us an answer to every expression of hate—whether it is a hurtful comment or a terrorist attack that shakes our whole sense of personal and national security. The recent act of terror in Boston, which impacts so many, immediately captured the attention of so much of the media and of individuals throughout the United States and the world. We all want to know the details. We are all looking for answers to the question “Why?” We must, though, ask another question: “How do we turn to God for answers in a situation such as this?”
When we are directly involved in a frightening situation, turning to God might not be our first response. We might be tempted to ask, “Why did this happen to me, or to my loved one?” The answer to that might not be revealed immediately. God will, though, always respond to our need for answers when we sincerely turn to Him.
When I was in my early 20s, my wife of two months was brutally murdered during a home robbery while I was at work at my office. I came home to discover the scene, and the incident became the immediate subject of attention of the city’s police and media.
Not unlike so many other individuals who are confronted by such a terrible act, that very night I asked, “Who, why, what, and how?” That night, when there was not a single individual to consult with, I was given a message from God. I remembered a line from a poem written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in Poems. The line reads, “Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear / No ill,—since God is good, and loss is gain” ( p. 4).
The evil crime was based on an erroneous concept—a belief in the absence of Love, God.
Mrs. Eddy’s inspired message gave me the most important answer to my questions. Wait! The immediate answers to “Who did it?” and “Why?” and “What happened?” could wait. But the need to deal with the bigger picture couldn’t wait. The answer was right there—right when I needed it: “Love more for every hate.” I had to elevate my concept of love for my wife above a human sense of physical beauty, personality, and personal companionship. I realized a much deeper love based on shared spiritual truths, joy, and beauty. I could never be separated from, nor deprived of, those eternal qualities that were the foundation of our love.
But the verse also says to “love … for every hate.” I had to love the perpetrator, too. I had to see him as a child of God, reflecting all the spiritual qualities that my wife did.
This led to the next answer: the evil was not personal. It was not aimed personally at my wife or me—nor was it aimed at anyone in Boston. The evil crime was based on an erroneous concept—a belief in the absence of Love, God. I had to see past all the labels, clichés, and human theories that we are tempted to attach to individuals. I had to see the spiritual qualities of everyone just as if they were my brother or sister.
By holding on to this truth about humanity—whether the perpetrator was sitting in a jail cell, or fleeing from capture—I gained a great sense of peace. Following my wife’s passing, that understanding of spiritual purity opened up the opportunity to volunteer as a prison worker, helping numerous individuals to see their real identity as the child of God.
When we love more, we see God’s love more clearly. No matter what we see as a human condition, no matter how much hate we see, loving more opens our thought to God’s messages—and God does indeed answer our questions.