Much of the anguish surrounding the plight of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram last month has to do with what the militant Islamist group might do to its captives. Protests were waged in Nigeria and in major cities around the world. The international community was further mobilized in support of the girls’ rescue by a video by Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, in which he threatened to sell the girls “in the market.” The latest move by the group was to release a video of more than 100 of the girls and to offer to exchange them for prisoners being held by the Nigerian government.
It would seem the young women’s fate hangs in the balance between the whim of a terrorist group and the tenuous influence of government leaders. But where does the power of God stand in relation to this picture? Is God standing by, helpless to protect His daughters unless human actions line up appropriately? Or does the picture look different from where He stands? More compelling, how can the power of God be brought to bear on this situation?
Christ Jesus shed light on these questions when he said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29). What this says to me is that no one has the power to pluck a child of God out of the omnipotent embrace of divine Love, and that this Love is our very Life, indestructible and eternal.
St. Paul put it this way: “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39). No matter where those Nigerian schoolgirls are, no matter what may have been done to them or what may be contemplated for them, their rock-bottom relationship to divine Life and Love is inviolable. It is maintained by absolute, divine law. This is the Science behind Christ Jesus’ words.
Boko Haram cannot separate one of those girls from the omnipotent embrace of her Father-Mother God. Being inseparable from divine Love includes being inseparable from Love’s tender care, comfort, and assurance. Inseparability from divine Life includes courage, strength, and immortality – indestructible spiritual consciousness. This isn’t just an empty, nice-sounding concept. Recognizing it as non-negotiable truth and holding to it in prayer can have practical results. It can sap the terror out of terrorist actions and bring about resolution.
In 2006, the young journalist Jill Carroll won the hearts of people all over the world when she was abducted by Sunni insurgents in Baghdad. Many people prayed daily for her release, including the editors of The Christian Science Monitor, under whose direction Ms. Carroll was working as a freelancer when she was captured. Week after week, these prayers relentlessly upheld her safety as being in the hands of God, all-powerful Love. And so it proved. Eighty-two days after her abduction, she was delivered by her captors – almost against their will, it seemed from her story as told in the Monitor – at the door of the Iraqi Islamic Party office, and from there she was conducted home.
By insisting on what we can see in prayer as the spiritual fact of the Nigerian girls’ inseparability from divine Love and Life, we can help bring about their deliverance as well.