I know that I’m not the only one who has been troubled by recent events around the world and even close to home lately.
In particular, the violence in Palestine and Israel is painful to contemplate. We think of all the ordinary people living in these regions. Children, families, the elderly, those who just wanted to live peacefully, yet found themselves pulled into the vortex of such tragedy and violence.
It’s so easy to become discouraged and overwhelmed at the thought that such events can happen in our world.
Along with that discouragement comes a sense of helplessness. What can we do? What path is open to us as individuals to alleviate some of the suffering in the world? What can we do to bring about peace?
While there are some organizations which promise to use monetary donations to help, there are a few small things we can do right here in our corner of the world.
For one thing, Red Cross blood donations go directly to parts of the world that need them the most (after local needs are met, of course). Fortunately, we hold monthly blood drives right here at the United Church of Warner. There’s one tomorrow (October 13).
Another thing we can do is to pray for peace. We can pray that world leaders will actively promote peace, and we can pray for protection and healing for those affected by the violence.
But is that enough?
There’s a funny story which I’ve heard preachers share a number of times, in which a doctor told a patient to pray. The patient responded, “Oh, Doctor, is it really as bad as that?”
So often, this reflects our attitude to prayer. We think it’s just desperately wishful thinking, a last resort in a truly hopeless situation.
But this is not what Scripture says about prayer. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I am a firm believer that God always answers prayer, although not always in the way that we expect. Prayer is powerful, and not a last resort. However, it’s also true that prayer must be authentic and genuine, which means it should be paired with action.
What does prayer really do for us? I believe it does a lot, but most importantly, it changes our own hearts and attitudes. Prayer puts us in a right relationship with God, aligned to His will.
As we are aligned to His will and purpose, He can make it known to us what action we are to take to heal others, and also make our hearts ready and willing to take that action when the time comes.
God’s purpose and goal for His world is peace. He can use us to bring about that peace, no matter how bad the situation. But we must open ourselves to His will and direction.
Part of that is gathering with others who are ready to do God’s work in the world.
Because gathered as the church of Christ, we have incredible power to heal, to unify and to restore, far more so than we could ever do alone.
So when it comes to disturbing world events, make prayer your first resort, and not your last. And you’ll be amazed at what God can accomplish through you and through His church.
In God’s love,