As I’ve read this newspaper over the decades, I’ve learned the value of prayer in response to what’s happening locally, as well as in the world. So when I read that people were being enticed into terrorism because they believed that it would give their lives meaning, it was natural for me to look to a deeper, spiritual understanding of reality.
There is nothing right or good about terrorist acts. But my prayers have led me to see that it takes something besides hatred to move us toward peace and harmony. Christ Jesus certainly faced his share of hatred, but he understood that hating or despising someone would not lead to healing and peace. Rather, recognizing God’s power to redeem all, even an enemy, can contribute to healing.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, “God is Love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 2; also see I John 4:8). Our prayers can affirm that God is ever-present Love itself, which guides us to safety, comforts us, and opens our eyes to a better way of living; and that our and everyone’s true identity is God’s spiritual image (see Genesis 1:26, 27). Science and Health, and the Bible teachings it is based on, show us that God’s healing, saving power is available now. Anyone who seeks a better understanding of the reality that God is Spirit, and that each of us is spiritual, living under divine law, can experience blessings.
For example, the Apostle Paul (first known as Saul) hated Jesus’ teachings at first. He hunted down Jesus’ followers and had them killed. But the Christ spoke even to him. Through a moment of revelation – when he caught a powerful glimpse of God’s love – his life totally changed. He went from persecuting to preaching on behalf of Christianity, and wrote confidently: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ... 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 8:35, 38, 39). Divine Love has the power to reach and redeem even those who would do terrible wrong.
This promise can strengthen our prayers about terrorism, in affirming the infinite reach of Love. Every one of us has the God-given ability to see spiritual reality, to catch a glimpse of what Paul saw. But it’s a capacity one needs to cultivate through prayer and a sincere willingness to acknowledge and express more of God’s goodness. This enables us to repent and to change our lives for the better.
The influence of good does reach individuals. A long time ago, I read a book about a man who was involved in bombing homes and churches during the civil rights movement in the United States. Eventually he was captured. While in prison, he had access to hate literature and at first accepted its messages. But he found one day that he didn’t want that anymore. He changed his life and actually became a minister, preaching against such hatred.
Through our prayers for peace and stability in Europe, Turkey, and elsewhere, we can affirm each individual’s ability to choose good and to resist the enticements of evil. No one is excluded from God’s love, nor is it ever too late for divine Love to open a heart that may seem to be frozen shut. As we sincerely desire to feel and understand this, we catch a glimpse of everyone’s real, God-given nature – which doesn’t include evil thoughts and actions motivated by terror, but is entirely good.