I am a 16-year-old living in Zimbabwe.... Maybe, just maybe, there might be someone out there who can help us...."
This e-mail message showed up in my mailbox recently, along with a request for prayer for that deeply troubled country. As the news pages of this paper reported in late August, "Once considered a shining example of Africa's potential, Zimbabwe is now a country in the throes of its worst economic crisis in decades. Critical shortages of food, fuel, foreign currency, and, in some areas, water, beset a nation where the official inflation rate tops 7,600 percent" ("Zimbabwe economy in free fall," Aug. 27).
A large part of the problem seems to be repressive and corrupt government policies that over two decades have made life more difficult for people. But one thing I found encouraging as I was praying about Zimbabwe and also reading in one of its newspapers is that, despite the difficulties, people both within and outside the government are working to improve people's lives. Our prayers can support efforts to free people in the country from violence and destitution.
The obstacles to progress seem almost insurmountable, but Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, offered a powerful thought to offset discouragement. At the very beginning of her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she wrote, "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love."
This isn't an abstract statement. Mrs. Eddy dealt with poverty, abuse, doubt, itinerancy, and many other challenges in order to establish Christian Science and the organization that supports it. And her conviction that "all things are possible to God" never wavered. It rests on the understanding that there is a Science of Love that is practical and that can change the course of events to a more spiritual direction. It can heal a sick country – whatever the situation – as readily as a sick body.
The basis for such healing is that each of us is spiritual, made to express qualities such as intelligence, peace, purity, goodness, honesty, love, order, and beauty. Chaos and want are not part of the heritage God has provided for His creation. So whatever instills feelings of chaos and lack doesn't have divine support. On the contrary, it is eliminated by the spiritual fact that God's goodness is unlimited and ever present. God never abandons His children.
Even so, when people are striving make reforms, they sometimes have to struggle with the feeling of being alone. Like the young girl whose e-mail appeal touched my heart, they ask if someone anywhere cares. This passage in Philippians helps me: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12, 13).
In our prayers we can affirm that God is actually working with each individual; no one is alone. Through God's guidance, they will be able to find useful answers and have the courage to pursue what is right. At the same time, this God – who loves all His children – can inspire the leadership to change its operating methods, to become wiser, more compassionate.
Often, when conditions are desperate, fear blocks positive steps toward progress. Prayer enables us to recognize that God is Love, and this Love is present for everyone, 24/7. Love provides guidance, sustenance, and comfort. The Bible makes clear that there is no fear in love, so Love is fear's antidote. Love embraces its full creation in ways that heal and bless.
Ultimately, it is "Love that worketh within" us and leads us to the right answers. It's love that is empowering your prayers and mine on behalf of Zimbabwe. And it's love that will lift that country out of its anguish and into the light once more.