As tension builds between the Israelis and Palestinians over the kidnapping of a young soldier, there is the temptation to believe something along the lines of "here we go again."
It is possible, though, to reverse the tide, and our prayers recognizing the all-power and goodness of God can make a difference.
I love the promise in the book of Nahum: "What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time" (1:9). To me, this means that God is fully able to protect all His people – Israelis, Palestinians, Christians, Jews, Muslims, whatever they're called humanly – and affliction is no part of His plan for any of us.
To believe that God would desire war or suffering for His children, or even a continuing state of antagonism and tension, is to "imagine against the Lord."
While human governments may be divided and uncertain about how to proceed, divine Love's government includes only good for all of its children. It promises each of us the ability to walk "in green pastures" and "beside the still waters."
These metaphors express the idea not just of an uneasy state of non-war, but of openness and spiritual certainty. They are possible through prayer that refuses to believe that war is inevitable or that God can be anything less than all-good and all-wise.
I learned this many years ago when a co-worker and I were verbally attacked by three other people with whom we were working on a project of some importance to all of us.
It was a vicious, bitter time. I walked out of the meeting feeling as though I'd been run over by a truck, and I feared the next meeting.
My colleague and I encouraged each other in prayer as we prepared, but when the day of the meeting came, I could hardly walk because I was so fearful. Only prayer enabled me to go forward.
Neither of us had any idea how things would work out. We had to trust ourselves to the all-wisdom of God, and we were not disappointed.
One of the most aggressive people of the three resigned, and the other two stepped back from the brink and chose to conduct the meeting in a businesslike manner. Later, all three were replaced by new representatives who were willing to work in a loving and respectful way.
Yet, neither my friend nor I felt triumphant. We felt only gratitude for Love's guidance and protection.
We both knew that Love doesn't exclude or discriminate. It doesn't say, "I will love you, but not you. I will cherish you, but neglect you." And we gained that blessing.
This is also true today. Divine Love no more fails to love the young soldier than the people waiting and fearing or the ones preparing to attack. Love encompasses all of its children.
We can keep the door open for divine Love to move thoughts and hearts, to help rigidity and tension drain away, to give discernment and intuition to those who are searching for the soldier as well as to decisionmakers.
In the book "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," by Mary Baker Eddy, the chapter "Peace and War" states: "The government of divine Love is supreme. Love rules the universe, and its edict hath gone forth: 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me,' and 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.' Let us have the molecule of faith that removes mountains, – faith armed with the understanding of Love, as in divine Science where right reigneth" (p. 278).
Just a "molecule of faith" that there doesn't need to be a return to affliction, that peace can still prevail, that love can disarm hate, that right can reign permanently in this land that is so mindful of religious and spiritual concepts. Right there, the presence of divine Love – all-wise and all-powerful – can prevail.