Why should it be impossible?
First published in The Christian Science Journal
Peace in the Middle East? An end to terrorism? And no more African civil wars?
Impossible, some say. The difficulties have gone on too long, behavior patterns are too ingrained, distrust on all sides makes compromise unattainable.
But maybe these problems aren't actually unsolvable. I remember how I felt about the Berlin Wall. I grew up knowing the wall as a fixed fact. I certainly hoped it could be brought down, but did I think it was going to happen? Not really.
Then I saw a magazine cover featuring the Berlin Wall with a large crack down the middle. The title of the cover story was "Why the Berlin Wall will come down." It jarred me! Will come down?" I began to consider this line from the Lord's Prayer: "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). A couple of questions crossed my mind. What is God's will in heaven? And would Jesus tell us to pray for the impossible? I think anyone's concept of heaven includes the expectation of harmony; and I couldn't accept the thought that Jesus would ask us to pray for the impossible. I realized I needed to change my expectations, to consent to the idea that the wall could come down.
I considered the Bible account of Moses and the children of Israel fleeing slavery in Egypt. There was Moses, caught between a pursuing army and the Red Sea. His options seemed to be slaughter or a return to slavery. I imagined a CNN reporter holding out a microphone and asking, "Moses, what are you going to do now?" I just couldn't imagine Moses responding, "I'm going to lift up my staff, and the waters will part." It didn't matter if Moses knew the specifics of how salvation would come, just that he knew that it would come because of the nature of his Maker and protector - because of the promise of God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
Do you and I trust, as Moses did, in the inevitable triumph of good over evil, or are we still stuck, as I was, in the mentality of "the wall will never come down"? Mary Baker Eddy, a radical spiritual thinker, challenged the concept, ingrained in popular thought, that evil is equal to or superior to good. "Evil is not supreme; good is not helpless; nor are the so-called laws of matter primary, and the law of Spirit secondary," she wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (page 207).
In my prayers, I opened up to the idea that the wall could come down. I know I was only one voice among many, and a latecomer at that, but I felt that every prayer made a difference. It's a little like the Dr. Seuss story, "Horton Hears a Who!"
Horton, an elephant, has discovered a civilization so tiny that their entire world is on a dust mote. Because other animals can't hear the Whos, they think Horton is imagining them, and plot to destroy the Whos' world. To save themselves, the Whos must all shout together. When they can't be heard, they ask if everyone is yelling - and there is one Who, Jo-Jo, who is not! When he adds his "Yopp," the Whos are heard and saved.
Now, I don't think that prayer means we have to be loud enough for God to hear us. God hears everybody's prayers. But I do think that everyone who accepts the idea that intractable problems can be solved adds to the weight being thrown on the side of harmony and healing. If you're already doing this, thanks for setting a wonderful example. If you're not there yet, please consider adding your voice: Acknowledge that good will triumph over evil, that harmony will reign, and that God's will can be done in heaven and on earth.
If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Matthew 17:20, 21