The outpouring of love and support for Jill Carroll who as of this writing is still in the hands of her captors, is astounding.
As chronicled in this newspaper, it shows a comprehensive collection of prayers for her safety from all corners of the globe, from rural towns in the United States to Baghdad itself, and from people of all faiths. Several comments include prayers for the captors to find the light and the courage to release her.
Mercy, that divine message of justice, love, and forgiveness, is the need of the hour.
When I lived in Jordan, I was struck that pious Muslims began most public activities by reciting the invocation that appears at the beginning of every sura of the Koran: "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful."
Divine mercy is boundless and is recognized by all who worship God. Islam warns against the harming of the innocent even in time of war. Jill Carroll, who was working as a freelance reporter in Iraq, epitomizes the innocency that the divine mercy protects.
For people of many faiths, Psalm 57 has come to have special meaning as a prayer for protection, affirming the all-power of God as applied to our human experience, as in the words, "God shall send forth his mercy and his truth" (Ps. 57:3).
The Psalmist knew about being in dire circumstances - the psalm speaks of protection even when "I lie prostrate among lions, man-eaters whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords," as the Revised English Bible translates, continuing, "God, be exalted above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth."
It is important to affirm that God does send mercy, and not just intermittently. God's mercy is His knowledge of Himself as infinite Love and as filling all space. God's mercy is 24/7, in every hamlet, down every side street in Iraq, as well as everywhere else in the universe.
Because God is all-present, there is no location that is far from God, and where His mercy is diluted or misunderstood. God's mercy is available to the pious and the criminal equally, helping us all to see our innate, God-created nature as pure, secure, good. This mercy is not merely conceptual; it is a divine force that dissolves and transforms even the most hardened heart.
God sheds His mercy regardless of one's politics, religion, or culture. It is the pervasive light that, originating in the vastness of the infinite God, shines in all hearts of all humanity, and eventually must be acknowledged.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote in one of her shorter works: "Now this self-same God is our helper. He pities us. He has mercy upon us, and guides every event of our careers" ("Unity of Good," pp. 3-4).
As I have prayed about the plight of Jill Carroll and others held captive, I have seen that God's mercy must be seen to guide the careers, the life-choices, of everyone in this unfolding drama.
Our prayers need to cover the whole ground, seeing that God's power and mercy are perceptible to and felt by all in this event.
The divine mercy is with Jill Carroll today. The divine mercy is with her captors as well, and it is with all those who are working and praying for her safe return. This divine mercy, which is also the all-comprehending infinite Mind, has the solution, and our prayer is that all hearts are receptive to the all-powerful merciful One who sees and loves all.
The Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.