Are you at all like me when you read or hear of innocents in remote places in this world falling into tragedy of some sort and suffering for it? I often yearn to go there myself with all the manpower and know-how I could muster, and help.
I am thinking of great storms or earthquakes or drought or senseless war or reigns of terror or kidnappings or abductions that appear to swallow up innocent people, including many women and children.
But of course, I can’t go there. In the moment that I feel this way, however, I am humbled to remember the great all-powerful and all-present love of God. Could I be so unhumble to think that I need to or even could do what God is not already doing?
God’s mighty love is right there, right now in the place it is needed most.
It is in intimate contact with those who need it; it is lifting up, sheltering, defending, caring for each one, regardless of how remote that individual’s location may appear to be, or how strong seems the hatred lined up against him or her, or how totally without hope or help that one may seem to be. There is no hiding from God’s love. And there is no possible desolate or remote place out of the reach of this love.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded The Christian Science Monitor, says about the love of God: “ ‘God is Love.’ More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 6).
And in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul – himself no stranger to dire circumstances – writes: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
Then, answering his own question, he says, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life ... 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 8:35, 38, 39).
Reading strong statements such as these describing the worldwide reach of the love of God strengthens me when I hear about those afflicted in far-off places.
It is true, too, that what may seem a remote place to me is actually very much God’s own neighborhood, as much as is the dear place in which I live. God is an infinite, universal presence. God’s love is a fundamental part of His presence, so this love, like the air that we breathe, wraps everyone on earth tightly within it. There is no desert, jungle, mountain range, or dense, crowded city where this is not so.
What may unwrap us temporarily from this love is blind, selfish, violent, evil thinking – however rightly motivated it seems to itself to be. Such thought restricts itself from breathing in the pure air of God’s love. However, this love of God is always working to separate each individual from the evil thinking that would harm or terrorize others. But at the same time, love is also at work to save and comfort those who appear to be the victims of evil thinking.
God’s nature has never changed, and it will never change. The one central fact at work now within all of the family of man is the love of God.
This love does not need a committee to meet and decide something. It does not need a government to give permission; and it does not need an armed escort or a referendum of any sort. It moves powerfully through any customs inspection, any armed checkpoint, and it is able to find its object despite any effort to obscure or hide.
This intense love of God is right there, right at this moment, being what it is and doing its work. It works on behalf of the individual – man, woman, or child.
Then what can we do? Well, what can we not do! You and I, right where we are now, can and should do all that we can to see that others feel and know this love. We can pray “without ceasing,” as the Bible says (I Thessalonians 5:17). Our prayer begins with a rejoicing that God’s love is at work now right where helpless victims appear to be.
And the love of our prayer can well extend to any and all governmental or private efforts to help. Such efforts are to be supported and praised in all our words and actions.
So when the news comes, as it will in this era of instant communication, we can instantly choose to pray. But the basis of our prayer is not horror or hopelessness. Our basis is our own sure knowledge that the love of God is right where it is needed now and is unfailing. His love is something the news reports failed to mention. But of this love, we well know. It provides the basis for our path of clear thinking about the news received.
And we do not need to feel that these news reports describe situations so far away that they do not affect us. We can think of them right in our neighborhood because we, like every citizen on the planet, are in God’s neighborhood, too. And when something is happening in our neighborhood, we can decide at once to see the love of God do its work.