When it comes to world news, attention has recently shifted away from Zimbabwe. That's not because everything has turned rosy there, but because other news is taking precedence.
However, the tragedy compounding itself in this country cannot afford to drop out of sight from those yearning to see Zimbabwe stand tall in its true stature as a great nation, especially those whose yearnings impel them to pray for the Zimbabwean people.
Before the recent flare-up in the Middle East, the BBC news had a series of reports from Zimbabwe. When introducing them, the news anchor would say that the BBC is banned from reporting in Zimbabwe. Then he or she would add, "and here is our world affairs editor, John Simpson, reporting from Harare" – or wherever the reporter was. The ban proved ineffective in the light of the journalistic spirit that impels individual reporters to put the public's need to know the facts before their own guarantee of comfort and safety.
The introduction with its two parts – that "we are banned" but "here we are!" – is thought-provoking. Could it point to a presence that might seem to be absent, judging by circumstances, but that is actually very much at hand? Could it be echoing the fact that the Christ is ever present, bringing messages of promise and evidences of God's goodness, right where they seem most lacking? And, if so, what would that mean for Zimbabweans?
It would mean a lot, according to the understanding of the Christ as described in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Monitor founder, Mary Baker Eddy. It explains that the Christ is not the person of Jesus, but the eternal might of Godliness that was behind his ministry. This would mean that there is a power present, independent of personalities and political dynamics, which can reach into individuals' thoughts and make a difference. And it would mean that there's an influence for change that can even help turn around the national situation for the better. Mrs. Eddy wrote: "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness. The Christ is incorporeal, spiritual, – yea, the divine image and likeness, dispelling the illusions of the senses; the Way, the Truth, and the Life, healing the sick and casting out evils, destroying sin, disease, and death" (p. 332).
The Christ, then, is a doer – voicing good, speaking to human consciousness, dispelling sense illusions, healing and casting out and destroying unspiritual mental conditions and practical difficulties. Christ acts, communicates. Christ makes a difference. The eyes and ears – all the material senses – don't discern the Christ. But beyond their limited illusion of material life and its challenges, there is a powerhouse for good, representing its source, God, through the healing and self-revelation that effect beneficial change.
Prayer for Zimbabwe, from within the country and from outside it, can support increased recognition of, and receptivity to, this divine messenger of good that provides the inspiration that can bring about progress. In any situation where the negative seems to outweigh the positive, the Christ is neither absent nor helpless. It is present to free thought that's stuck on what appear to be immovable circumstances, and lift it to the spiritual realm where harmony reigns and good flows freely and equally to all. People in the Bible, and many people praying their way through life today, have proved that the recognition of spiritual reality that Christ brings to consciousness leads to pragmatic solutions for even chronically intransigent problems.
One way the Christ makes a difference in our prayers for situations such as Zimbabwe's crisis is in its ability to lift thought beyond emotional reactions to the personalities involved in power struggles, and to pinpoint in one's own thought the temptation to believe in the power of evil. Seeing this and refusing to go along with any denial of God's all-powerful and ever-present goodness is effective prayer.
And Zimbabweans deserve nothing less from everyone who yearns to see their needs for peace and prosperity met, even as other world situations demand and deserve our prayer.