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Peace and beyond

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

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One night I flipped on a tape player that I hadn't listened to in several weeks. The first words that came out were, "Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God" (Ps. 68:31). I don't recall ever having read that before in the Bible. Actually, I found it inspiring - and amazing.

You see, that very afternoon the news had talked about a border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and it had occurred to me to pray about that specific situation.

Some quick research on the Bible's use of the word Ethiopia showed it was often a vague term referring to all that was south of Egypt - away from the Mediterranean basin, far distant, a place where "the sun sets." To me, that Bible verse was saying that no matter where they are geographically or politically, people and nations can turn to the one God and find peace. Certainly that includes the Ethiopia of today, as well as Eritrea. It includes all nations in conflict. God is Love - universal and impartial. His great power is always available to influence the affairs of humankind.

I considered many other hopeful messages from Psalm 68, and found these words particularly arresting: "Scatter thou the people that delight in war" (verse 30). Obviously, scattering diminishes power and is desirable in breaking up the forces of evil. The Bible is filled with accounts of God reuniting His people, delivering them "out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day" (Ezek. 34:12).

Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a ceasefire in June. The United Nations Security Council voted Monday to establish a Mission to prepare for a peacekeeping operation along the border. That is evidence of God's unifying force. Of course, absence of combat is never an end in itself, and this is especially true in that part of Africa, where attention needs to be paid to drought-caused starvation. Most nations face problems that demand an atmosphere of peace for working out appropriate solutions. The great value of our prayer, our reaching out to the God who is Love, does not end with peace treaties and arms reductions; it lies in finding solutions to all of earth's problems.

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