There have been many responses to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in the conflict zone of Ukraine. Sorrow, anger, fear, frustration, deception are among them. Others have turned to prayer, as seen in the prayer-filled response of the Dutch people in particular. In terms of human life, their loss was the greatest, yet they have prayed to embrace all the nationalities who have been affected.
For me, Psalm 139 has been a powerful help because it speaks not only of God’s omnipresence in ways that make that concept tangible for me. It also supports my prayers for the people in the crash and for those trying to deal with the aftermath. The Psalmist writes, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (7-10).
This message of our inseparability from God has power to comfort, because it shows us the relation between God and His spiritual idea, man. This is who you and I, the victims and their families, and all the people trying to sort things out on the ground really are. Christian Science makes clear that each of us is spiritual, the idea, or creation, of God. Each of those passengers is precious to God and embraced in His ever-presence. In our own prayers we can know that the Christ – God’s healing message to humanity – is able to reach and comfort those individuals. And we can know, too, that they are forever under God’s care.
The families of the victims can also be comforted, since the loving and powerful message of the Christ is available to sustain them, too. God is leading them and everyone.
There is something more that our prayers can address. It is vital to pray about the need for justice but also to help prevent revenge, to insist in our prayers that truth governs and not retaliation. Those who choose revenge identify with evil, which is ultimately the losing side but is also deeply destructive. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, makes plain the supremacy of good, which needs to be understood spiritually. She wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “Evil is not supreme; good is not helpless; nor are the so-called laws of matter primary, and the law of Spirit secondary” (p. 207).
Resisting evil and all conditions that argue on its behalf, and perceiving the presence, power, and allness of God, good, is a quiet help to the people affected by the crash. It can also help protect all who are traveling by air these days. In prayer, we can claim God’s presence as a tangible, correcting, and protecting reality, and trust that our understanding of God has an effect in other people’s lives.
Science and Health provides wonderful guidance for prayer that, to me, covers the whole situation: “At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil. Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you. The cement of a higher humanity will unite all interests in the one divinity” (p. 571).
Prayer helps us see that each individual is safe in divine Love, and as we embrace in love all those involved in the situation and the war that tragically provoked it, we help neutralize any evil motives that are driving it. Spiritual love for others is a purifying influence that can change outcomes. From it emerges a higher humanity that leans toward peace and justice, holds to a clearer sense of mercy, and seeks a restoration of brotherly love and movement toward genuine peace. Our acceptance and understanding of divine Love’s supremacy can open the way for all interests to converge under one banner, not several competing banners. That one banner is Love, and Love is embracing all those affected, right now.