Recently this newspaper and other media have carried reports of the desperate need for food in North Korea, where it's said a fifth of the population may face starvation. Two years of floods and this year's drought have ruined the country's crops.
All the while, millions suffer-especially innocent children. One radio report I heard described schoolchildren as unable to respond to even the simplest questions.
Making financial contributions to organizations skilled in aiding in these kinds of situations is one possibility for helping to relieve the suffering. Volunteering time in support of these efforts may be possible for some of us.
But there is something very significant all of us can do, regardless of our financial situation or our available time. The Bible promises that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). This powerful promise puts no limits on the situations in which prayer is effective. There is no reason to assume it does not apply in situations of famine.
How can you pray? An outpouring of sympathy is one very tender kind of prayer that is wonderful. Others may find that a simple petition to the one universal and heavenly God, who is equal to all human needs, will satisfy their sense of helping the North Koreans.
Another kind of prayer that is also very helpful is a kind of spiritual knowing. A becoming aware of, convinced of, what is spiritually true. It is seeing each individual as spiritual and perfect, even if this fact has before been hidden from our view. It is something like focusing binoculars to see crisply something that before was completely vague, even apparently vaporous; but this is a focusing of thought in prayer. We grow aware of the fact that all the world's people are actually the perfect and spiritual children of God, though the news reports may neither depict nor confirm it. Each child of God is loved by God, cared for, given all good-in abundance.
This is not some mystical condition of thought! Nor is it self-mesmerism or self-delusion or fantasy. "This understanding is not intellectual, is not the result of scholarly attainments; it is the reality of all things brought to light" is the way Mary Baker Eddy put it in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 505). This book holds the complete statement of Christian Science, which Mrs. Eddy discovered. It expresses the spiritual truths of the Bible in simple, heart-to-heart language that any receptive reader can understand.
As unusual as it may sound to most of us who are educated to think of material, physical conditions as the only reality, this book explains that inharmonious conditions, including famine, are actually objectified beliefs. They are conditions of thought. They are like photographic slides projected on a screen. When the thought of the individual, and thus the collective thought of humanity, is changed to a holier, clearer understanding of God, human conditions become more harmonious. Something very central to Christian Science is the conclusion that God is our perfect Father-Mother and that we are His, Her, precious children.
This spiritual insight marks the very same condition of thought that enabled Christ Jesus to heal. Twice he fed multitudes with a pittance of food (see Matthew 14:15-21 and 15:32-38). So clear and unlimited was his spiritual insight into God's supply of every need for His children that provision became humanly evident, and everyone had enough to eat, with much left over. To a modest degree I have seen this same love of God in my own life. Once, a woman who knew nothing of our family's needs sent me a check for several hundred dollars. She said that as she sat in church that Sunday, she heard what she felt was a message from God to make that gift.
We need not be personally in North Korea to help its people. We only need to let the truth uplift our thought, to see those people in the ever-present kingdom of heaven. Put another way, we only need to yield to the spiritual fact that God never stops caring for His creation. For God already is there, expressing Himself as divine Love and divine Principle. When we yield to this fact, we are letting spiritual truth correct our material, mistaken sense. And as Jesus proved, that prayer is of practical value in providing for human need.