'I know that if I can't do anything else for those people, I can pray," my aunt said. She had been watching television coverage of the Kosovo crisis.
I'd had the same thought a few days before. I had tried to go to a Web site on the Internet maintained by Serbian students, but had found it simply was not there. I realized this could be just a temporary hole in the World Wide Web. But there was something about the absence of that site that spoke of loss, of bombs dropping and people being killed.
Though the war had seemed very far away, at that moment I felt, for the first time, that it was something tangible. The situation made me want to pray - because that was the only way I felt I could help.
I found myself thinking of a figure in the Bible named Nehemiah. During his time, the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, and his people were sent into exile. Yet he was inspired to return to Jerusalem and to begin rebuilding the city. That was anything but easy, and there were many enemies who were ready to attack at a moment's notice. In Nehemiah's words, "They all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done."
His response: "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands" (Neh. 6:9).
Nehemiah's conviction that God was helping him was strong. So strong, in fact, that it sustained him and his people. They did indeed rebuild Jerusalem.
This points to a conviction you or I might have that God is with all of His people - including the refugees and all who are trying to help them. Our prayers can support a rebuilding effort. Tremendous commitment and international aid will be needed to restore a semblance of normality to Kosovo. People who work for peace often have many powerful enemies, but under God's guidance they find solutions.
God is still omnipotent. God's love is the same powerful force for peace on earth. We can appeal to God right now in our individual prayers, trusting that God's plan is for all to live at peace.
When Jesus Christ spoke persuasively to both Jew and Gentile, friend and foe, he showed what a conviction of God's power can accomplish on earth. His God was Life itself. Love itself. "He proved Life to be deathless and Love to be the master of hate" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 44).
The love of God that Jesus expressed, even to his enemies, had great healing power. It proved itself not only omnipotent but also intelligent and infinite. That love uncovers wrongdoing and strengthens people's desire to do good. It is still here with us. Because it is of God, no human force can, ultimately, resist it or stop it.
It was this same love that gave Nehemiah courage and persuasive authority, although he lived long before Jesus. And it was God's love that made him want to rebuild Jerusalem.
Our prayers for Kosovo can involve moments of seeking to know and feel divine Love. Sensing God's presence produces mercy and compassion. It provides strength and intelligence for all who have justice as their goal.
Love is present in the meeting rooms where governments struggle to figure out how to redeem a miserable situation. Love guides its sons and daughters to right solutions. Love builds up, never tears down. Our growing conviction that Love is ultimately governing has the power to bring people together, to restore, and to renew.
These simple prayers are real contributions toward peace because they turn to divine authority, with all its goodness, rather than focusing on a particular partisan solution or on revenge. Let us join together in finding this healing love.
I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16