Ever since the expected drawdown of American troops in Iraq began, there has been speculation about what would happen as the process went forward. On August 25, a two-hour assault on 13 towns and cities killed at least 51 people, exacerbating fears of further misery to come. There have been other sporadic attacks, but this coordinated effort seemed designed to make the point that the insurgents can strike wherever and whenever they wish.
One Iraqi commented that since Saddam Hussein had fallen, “this is what we have – explosions, killing and looting. This is our destiny. It’s already written for us” (“Coordinated Attacks Strike 13 Towns and Cities in Iraq," The New York Times, Aug. 25).
Actually, something quite different has been written for all of us, including the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan, no matter what their religion, and for the troops remaining there. Our destiny is established not in the expectation of being powerless before forces of misery and evil but in the certainty that good can and will triumph.
The basis for this conviction is that God created man, both male and female, and He loved them from the beginning. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded the Monitor, revealed the spiritual nature of God’s creation, which transcends material conditions that leave one feeling trapped in a blighted destiny. She wrote, “Man has a noble destiny; and the full-orbed significance of this destiny has dawned on the sick-bound and sin-enslaved” (“No and Yes,” p. 46).
This noble destiny is to live in harmony with one another, to be at peace. As one perceives his or her nature to be spiritual, and loved by God, sickness of heart over war and the dire images and the losses that accompany it can be alleviated. Freedom from enslavement to anger, bitterness, jealousy, rivalry, hopelessness, and other negative characteristics can be gained.
One of the lessons accompanying such prayer is that every individual has a good, God-given purpose. To see this for oneself and then for others, especially enemies, isn’t always easy. Making the effort, however, can change what “is written” in very dramatic ways. Obstacles to individual progress can fall, and on the international scale, opportunities for peace can open up.
Iraq’s elected government, which has spent five months struggling to come together, can also be blessed by prayers that recognize the noble destiny to which we all are called. Since this destiny rests in divine Spirit, which is pure and holy, it can’t be contaminated by fear, hatred, or a desire for revenge. Rather, there can be a willingness to love one another for the good of one’s people and for the sake of stability and progress in the nation. Such generosity of spirit is natural in the male and female of God’s creation. All of us can be blessed by cultivating it in ourselves and honoring it in others.
Jesus, who is recognized by Islam as a prophet, exhibited the ultimate selflessness in the face of others’ injustice. No matter what pressure he may have felt from the opposition to his teachings, he was unmoved. His love for God and man guided and protected him. This love can also protect us as we pray on behalf of Iraq and other nations in need of healing, including our own.
The Gospel of John makes this clear. Speaking of God’s Word, the power of Truth that brought forth life and the universe, John declared: “All that came to be was alive with his life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines on in the dark, and the darkness has never mastered it” (John 1:4, 5, New English Bible).
Jesus proved the power of Truth’s light through his healing ministry and his resurrection from death.
That period of history in Jerusalem was dark indeed, with its own mental and physical violence. But the darkness didn’t master the light; Jesus rose from the grave in a triumph of holiness.
This light is shining in Iraq and Afghanistan – and any other trouble spot – right now. It is revealing a completely different destiny for these nations, a destiny of good, of strength, wisdom, freedom, and joy. Our prayers can support the emergence of that light in tangible ways, proving its redeeming power and promise to be true.