A number of years ago, a good friend of mine was greatly distressed by the renewed outbreak of violence in the Middle East the same kind of destruction we are seeing today. The intransigence of the parties, the loss of life, and the shattering of the growing hopes for peace, saddened her deeply.
She found herself praying earnestly. No outcome on the battlefield could result in peace. No settlement that was unjust to any party would last. And there was the difficulty, because the competing claims seemed to offer no solution that could satisfy all parties.
So she prayed. She prayed because she believed that when human intelligence reached its limits, when it can see no answer to a problem, it needs the inspiration and guidance that can come only from the divine Mind, God. This unlimited intelligence, this creative force for good, can open our eyes to overlooked or utterly original solutions to the problems we face.
She was struck by the fact that Muslims, Jews, and Christians share a fundamental belief in one infinite and almighty God. They are not worshipping three different gods. They share a fundamental realization that there is only one creator, one God, one underlying Principle. They strive to live lives that honor God. They seek God's guidance and acknowledge His holy rule. Despite the differences that exist in these three religious movements, this central fact of faith had to have the seeds for peace, for a God-defined solution to the terrible conflicts that have convulsed this region of the world.
This insight was encouraging to my friend because it reminded her of a statement written by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper and the author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This statement begins, "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love they neighbor as thyself ...' " (pg. 340).
One God, one unifying Principle, one Mind: This says to us that there must be a way for this oneness to be expressed humanly. One Mind doesn't have irreconcilable differences. One Principle can't have mutually exclusive aims. So the more we can drop our human opinions and willfulness and we may need all of God's power to do that at times! the more we can see and respond to God's guidance, to the spiritual force that leads to peace.
After several weeks of praying, my friend came across a passage from the Bible that gave her an assurance that peace in the Middle East is God's will. That peace wasn't dependent on one party's displacing or subjugating another. Instead, it suggested that as all parties honor God, all parties would reap the blessings of God.
After describing a period of great conflict between Egypt, Assyria, and Israel, the prophet Isaiah had this wonderful vision: "In that day shall Israel be the third [partner] with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance" (Isa. 19:24, 25). And while the geopolitical boundaries of the area have changed considerably since Isaiah's time, this promise still stands as a great light in his vision of the reign of harmony in this area of the world. It resonates with as much hope for us as his well-known picture of the lion laying down with the lamb.
Mrs. Eddy reminds readers of her book Science and Health that God, divine Love, "is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals" (pg. 13).
The need for prayer, for spiritual vision, and for conviction that with God there is a way, is acute today. Men and women of goodwill can join in their prayers for these needed elements to take hold and to aid governments in finding the path to peace. The key for us all is to see that such a path exists, and that God, Mind, is able to lead us in this path.
The divine ideas that are revealed to everyone from God are active in consciousness today. They speak to every heart that yearns for justice and peace. They give strength to those movements of thought that will contribute to peace. Prayer gives each of us, including those who govern, the vision and courage to walk in the path that leads to peace.