The crash of a Caspian Airlines jet in Iran, which killed 168 people is a sad event in and of itself. One's heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones, fellow workers, and friends. Each individual on that flight was precious to God – and is still in His care. Each family member can also be blessed by feeling God's presence, providing hope and comfort.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised, "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4). This comfort comes through Christ, the healing power of God, which touches each of us, whether or not we are Christians, and provides the tender love that we need.
The crash of this jet also raises issues that take on new importance given the political instability in Iran and other nations' attitudes toward it. A report in The New York Times notes, "With no domestic aviation industry, Iran is dependent on foreign manufacturers for its planes. But trade sanctions in place for the past three decades have hampered access to spare parts as well as purchases of more modern aircraft..." ("Plane Crash Leaves 168 Dead in Iran," July 15). The article goes on to state that in 2005, the International Civil Aviation Organization warned that "sanctions flouted international treaties and placed civilian lives in danger."
After three decades of sanctions, perhaps prayer can provide a better solution, one that will enable people to fly on safe airplanes without others having to worry about threats to international safety. While it's important for the international community to take steps that will protect the overall welfare of humanity, one can't help thinking of another one of Jesus' statements in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Matt. 5:7).
Prayers for Iran can embrace the ever-presence of God's mercy for the people lost in the crash (and those who love them) and also for that country, which has such a rich intellectual and religious history. Prayer should include the nations relying on sanctions, trusting that divine inspiration will open the way to new ideas that will bring forth a better relationship.
Christ can move the hearts of all those involved in sanctions to look for more productive solutions and to have the strength and courage to follow through. In prayer, one can recognize that each individual involved in efforts to establish negotiations is spiritual and is governed by the one God or divine Mind. This Mind doesn't belong to a particular religion, nor does it have a political agenda. Its only purpose is to love all its children – every individual, including you and me. A characteristic of Mind is to unify and to heal, and claiming the presence of Mind as a guide to the nations sanctioning Iran as well as to Iran itself can only bless all concerned.
Instead of seeing Iran as a troubled country in turmoil, it would be helpful to think of the nation as in God's care. Prayer that trusts all to God can open the way to unexpected solutions that may not be obvious on the surface.
In her article "How strife may be stilled," Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "The Principle of all power is God, and God is Love. Whatever brings into human thought or action an element opposed to Love, is never requisite, never a necessity, and is not sanctioned by the law of God, the law of Love" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pp. 278–279).
It can be said that there have been unloving thoughts and actions on both sides in this case, but the infinite Love known as God is well able to lift all parties to a new level where common compassion for the human condition that binds us together can be felt. Better still would be the recognition of our collective value as the sons and daughters of God, filled with spiritual attributes – intelligence, beauty, strength, insight, courage, and perseverance, to mention a few.
Letting Love open the way to new thoughts about our Iranian neighbors and to new ways in which a more peaceful relationship could develop, could lead to progress for everyone. With mercy and love guiding individuals and governments, safety on all levels could become the norm, and peace between Iran and the nations that have imposed sanctions could be established with confidence and joy.