The United Nations has designated Sept. 21 each year as International Day of Peace, a day devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples” (InternationalDayofPeace.org). Awareness of this special day begs the question for us all, “How can we make a difference toward peace in the world – peace wherever possible?”
As I’ve given prayerful thought to the issue of peace, the following passage in the Bible has come to mind: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17). To me, this says that peace is achieved by knowing and doing what is right, even on an individual basis, and that we can each nurture a righteous heart.
I recall an experience at my workplace when I was confronted with the demand to be a peacemaker. During an employee meeting, a co-worker made some disparaging comments to everyone about my portion of the program just as I was about to begin. While I was initially quite taken aback, something to the effect of “God, what should I do?” came to my thought.
I sincerely desired to know what was right in that situation. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science and this publication, states: “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds....
“Are we benefited by praying? Yes, the desire which goes forth hungering after righteousness is blessed of our Father, and it does not return unto us void” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 1-2).
A thought came to me that I should continue on as if nothing had been said – that it would not be right to react negatively in public or to disrupt the harmony of the overall program – and I was able to keep my composure to deliver my presentation.
Afterward, I continued to pray, and the thought came to me that I did not need to orchestrate justice by talking to those senior to us about the wrongness of what the man had done. My prayers to know what was right gave me a sense that mercy needed to prevail and that I could let go of any self-justification that would promote further disagreement and conflict.
The man and I had no occasion to speak for at least several days after the meeting, but when we ultimately did have an opportunity to speak, it felt as if nothing had ever happened. Peace and reconciliation had prevailed in a situation that could have gone in a very different direction. I was so grateful to God for showing me what to do. It was clear that right actions made a difference toward peace, even in this small way.
Christ Jesus was certainly a consummate example of goodness and righteousness. He well understood the importance of working toward a righteous heart when he said in the Beatitudes from his Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). He taught his followers that those who earnestly desire and strive for righteousness – who steadfastly desire to do what is good, benevolent, just, honorable, virtuous, noble, honest, and morally sound – will be blessed, “fed” by God. This is because our true Parent is God, the one God who is good (see Psalm 100). It is natural, then, that we, as His offspring, are made to think, move, and behave rightly. Acknowledging this spiritual fact strengthens our prayers and empowers us to do what is good, honorable, and noble – to strive for peace and reconciliation for the greater good, rather than personal interests such as greed, revenge, and self-justification.
Through our steadfast desire to know and do what is right, we can expect our dedicated, ongoing prayers for ourselves and mankind to result in more peace – more and more progressive relationships between people and among nations.