Last fall my husband and I visited Athens. It was my first time there, and I loved all the history this city has to offer the world.
Underneath it all, though, was a decipherable unrest. Waiters, hotel clerks, museum guards, as well as the many street vendors, all showed signs that there would be a boiling point in the near future. Now, it appears, that boiling point has been reached.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discusses two elements that most people fear, no matter what country they’re from: fiscal crisis and violence. “‘What we have seen is that contagion’ – economist-speak for a spreading crisis – ‘has gone global,’ says Harvard University economist Jeffrey Frankel.” Fiscal crisis and violence are not new to Greece or to any country, and as someone who has found prayer effective in dealing with problems, large and small, I’ve found myself turning to prayer for this lovely nation.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, once asked members of her Church to pray that “justice, mercy, and peace ... shall rule all nations” (Christian Science Versus Pantheism,” p. 14). Anyone can offer this kind of prayer for Greece or for any country in trouble. We can pray for a country’s prosperity – that justice, mercy, and peace will characterize its government, and that these spiritual qualities will rule all nations. Acknowledging such qualities in prayer is useful. We can hold before our own thought the right idea of government as under the rule of divine Mind, God. This also destroys any wrong concept that we may be holding within our consciousness. As the true understanding of divine government reigns in consciousness, human experience improves. Prayerful affirmation, far from being mere hopeful thinking, acts with power in our lives and in the lives of our governments.
The Bible records numerous situations where the fiscal issues of the day led to violence. Throughout the Bible there is concern expressed by the prophets that Israel’s place and position in history is imposed upon. In fact, Israel became a vassal to Assyria, which king Hezekiah learned was not exactly a good position to be in. Israel didn’t want to be taken over and lose its land, so it paid Assyria each month not to conquer Israel. The Bible indicates that the prophet Hosea denounced this arrangement.
Hosea’s message from God in dealing with this fiscal crisis may surprise us today. Here it is: “Return unto the Lord thy God.”
Fiscal irresponsibility, as we’re seeing throughout the world today both in large economies and individually, has its ramifications. So what does it mean to “return” to God during fiscal crisis and violence? It can mean praying for His guidance, praying for a solution that will bless everyone – all peoples in all countries. This doesn’t necessarily mean to pray for a given outcome, but rather that all countries involved may gain stability. In prayer we can look to God to destroy any fear we may have concerning the aftermath of an economic storm, including violence, and to bring out the moral courage and honesty that are so necessary in times of violence and unrest.
Sometimes just being able to resist indulging in hatred and anger, by not mentally, verbally, or physically participating, takes nothing less than valor. Violence may appear to act as a pressure-release valve for those involved, but violence actually destroys the self-worth of individuals and countries. The solution, once again, is in turning to God for direction and help, even in the midst of a severe outbreak of violence. Isaiah quotes God as saying: “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders” (60:18).
Whatever country you’re in right now, whether a citizen or not, you can pray for its prosperity – that justice, mercy, and peace characterize its government.