The increasing level of violence in Pakistan, dramatically illustrated by a powerful car bomb that exploded in a Peshawar market last week, is a sobering reminder that peace in a war zone carries a heavy price tag. The bomb killed more than 90 people, wounded over 200, and destroyed buildings. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi responded with strength: "The resolve and determination will not be shaken.... We will fight you because we want peace and stability in Pakistan" (The New York Times, Oct. 28).
Such conviction calls forth our prayers for this country and the region, which is caught up in turmoil. Afghanistan, facing last-minute cancellation of runoff elections that had been scheduled for this week, has also erupted in increasing violence. In both places, the desire of many people is to be at peace, to lead normal lives, for their children to be safe. To leave for work or school in the morning and be able to expect that one will return in the evening intact, and with other family members intact, also.
Our prayers can be strengthened by the Bible's powerful message of God's presence, even in the midst of danger. Living in his own violent times, the Psalmist said, "O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them." But he knew that there is a greater power than the enemy â€“ and that divine power will have the last word. He said, "But the Lord shall endure forever ... and he shall judge the world in righteousness.... The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble" (9:6-9).
God's love and strength are the source of true stability for everyone, whether it's a person in the US who doesn't have a job and feels desperate or it's someone who has lost a loved one in the wars in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or elsewhere. God is a refuge for the oppressed, and destructions must come to an end as each of us join in prayer to see peace prevail.
A vital part of this prayer is to support all who are devoted to good, no matter what side they're on. Such prayer may lead those who have been enemies to change direction. It may uncover dishonesty among those who have been stating they are for peace, but are not. God, divine Truth, will open the way to preserve the good and eliminate whatever is deceptive or evil.
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, spoke of the quest for liberty in these terms: "Truth brings the elements of liberty.... The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love.... Whatever enslaves man is opposed to the divine government. Truth makes man free" (pp. 224-225).
Each individual prayer to see Truth prevail in the quest for freedom and peace will help to forward the elimination of corruption in government and the military that makes stability so hard to establish in Pakistan. It will also help support progress toward an honest runoff election in Afghanistan. Individual and collective prayer has the power to uncover and remove every obstacle to peace and unity.
But to achieve this goal, prayer needs to claim the presence of divine Love, in the remotest village and the largest city, on mountain trails and city streets. In markets and in sheepfolds. It must reject the ethnic hatreds that darken thought and prevent the unity of spirit that is evidence of divine Love. It must recognize as powerless the ignorance and fear that lead people to actions they would never do if they were unafraid. Only divine Love can remove that fear and ignorance. It can shine the light of Truth into thought and lift it out of anger and bitterness.
It may seem impossible at times that there could be peace amid such hatred and trouble. But to believe this is to believe that there are places on earth where God is absent, that are forsaken by the power of good. This is impossible, because God is infinite Love, infinite Truth. He forsakes no one, because Love is all-inclusive by its very nature. Love is present, even in the loneliest places.
Proving this will take dedication and deep conviction. There are, even now, civilians and military people willing to give up their lives in this battle. Our part can be to offer our prayers.