Reading a news report about the reluctance of nations to contribute to an international force that would help maintain peace between Hizbullah and Israel, I didn't have a hard time understanding their feelings. But the mental image it conjured up seemed to be saying that the world was willing to stand by, leaving the two groups to duke it out until only one was left standing.
That was a sorrowful image in a world that has become more and more interdependent. As one who believes deeply in the power of prayer, I knew there had to be a better answer.
I found it in the book of Psalms. It's a passage that I thought about even when I was just a child: "Leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up" (Ps. 27:9, 10).
It was hard for me to imagine a parent forsaking a child, yet here was a promise that if that ever were to happen, God would be there.
It is equally hard for me to see what could help to break down the walls of hatred and rage that seem so solid in this conflict.
Yet the God of our salvation – and Israel's and Hizbullah's and all the other players on the stage of this particular war – will take us up to a better understanding of who and what we are.
Yet the image of the assailants being left to their own devices is not encouraging, and here's where the God of our salvation comes in. There are many definitions of salvation, but the one I love best is in Mary Baker Eddy's book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." She defines it as, "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all..." (p. 593).
At the moment, it appears that Life, Truth, and Love, in various degrees, are absent. But this is not so. Infinite Spirit cannot be stopped by a border, or any limitation. It is ever present, even in the darkest places.
Our prayers can affirm the power of Spirit to accomplish its purpose for good, to let Life reign in the place of death, to see renewal and creation wipe out the willfulness that would uncreate. Spirit doesn't want the Israelis or Hizbullah, or anyone else for that matter, dead. As the supreme Creator, God is the God of Life, of all that forwards progress and joy. And Life's purpose is to lead everyone to a fuller and better life.
Truth's impulsion toward salvation wipes out the fog of war and reveals the spiritual facts that will ultimately bring disparate groups together. One of these facts is that Christian, Muslim, and Jew worship just one God. Hatred may fuel the belief that one religion's God is stronger or more aggressive than another's God, but the spiritual reality that there is truly only one all-powerful and all-loving God can unite people, perhaps in unexpected ways.
The best uniter of all is divine Love, for when Love is present, hatred has no choice but to be absent from the field. Let's pray with love in our hearts for all people, no matter what side of the conflict they are on, no matter who began the fighting or who continues to provoke whom. Each one, in truth, is precious to the Creator; each one has a love-inspired role to fill, and death is no part of that inspiration. Let's also take time to love the peoples of these nations and territories, each one striving for the peace and stability everyone longs for.
It is possible to leave conflicts of the past behind and move forward into a permanent and peaceful future. The Lord can lift the thinking and affections of everyone up to a higher place, one where Truth, Life, and Love fill their hearts – and ours – and where hatred and war will be found no more.
Nation shall not lift up a sword
against nation, neither shall
they learn war any more.