Somalia - Which Direction Are We Looking?
THE loss of life to drought and civil strife in Somalia is staggering. Despite this, the story hasn't seized the world's attention to the same degree as other recent disasters--the May riots in Los Angeles, for instance. In that tragedy, which captured the media's attention for a week, fifty-eight lives were lost. In Somalia, more than that number of people are starving to death every twenty minutes.
Looking at the problem, taking the time to look, taking the time to care, are needed. The problem cries out for our attention, our efforts for diplomatic mediation, more humanitarian aid, our prayers. So do other trouble spots in the world. How do we find a gaze large enough to take in this vast, heart-wrenching scene? And more, how do we find a gaze penetrating enough to pierce through the suffering and search out solutions?
The power that impels humans to care for one another, and to keep on caring until a solution is found, is Christ: the power of the presence of God. This divine power comes to us ceaselessly, energizing our compassion, inspiring our ingenuity, renewing our commitment. This power of Christ is the spirit of Love, or God. Jesus lived it. He embodied it. He did so without parallel. Christ is the message from God to human consciousness that good is always at hand. The intelligent power of Christ enabled Jesus to see a problem and, even in the face of seeming hopelessness, to provide spiritual solutions that had practical impact.
But this Christ-power demands a turning. We must look in the right direction--look Godward to divine Love, the source of all good. No matter how devastating the material scene, Christ is present to turn us to Love, to God, who gives comfort, peace, and nourishment. It is not quite enough, though, that Christ is the ever-present power of Love, impelling us to keep caring and to keep turning to God. We must choose to respond to this divine impulse of Christ and to keep responding to it as it turns us to Go d for the solutions we need. Then it is enough.
Think of Jesus' caring for the hungry multitude. If you are a Bible reader, you will recall that thousands had followed him into a desert place where he had ministered to them. But the crowd lacked needed food, and all that the disciples were able to locate was five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus had directed the people to sit down, and he had taken the meager supplies. Then, as Matthew's Gospel says, ``Looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the discip les to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled.
``Looking up to heaven. Typically, we stay glued to the problem and the inadequate provisions. But Christ lifts our gaze higher, to the divine source proved reliable even in desperate situations. Jesus looked up to heaven. Through his whole career he proved God's provision for all His children. The solution, strictly speaking, wasn't more bread. Yet a vivid realization of Love's tangible nature would have to show up in a practical way. It always does. That is the inevitable effect of Love's power and law . The Christ message didn't come to people as merely a concept. In Jesus' time the message appeared as withered limbs made whole, ruptured relationships healed, empty stomachs properly filled. Jesus made evident this power of the presence of Love. Curiously, though, focusing only on the human evidence--good or bad--would so lower our gaze as to limit the message of Christ, keeping its full healing message out of view.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, made a unique contribution to Christianity. She saw the life of Christ Jesus as the ultimate example, not the ultimate exception. Thus, the works of Jesus are not a miraculous setting aside of all law and power. Rather, they are the perfect example or illustration of true, spiritual law and true, Christly power, bringing help to the human scene. Mrs. Eddy saw in Jesus' life not miracle but scientific, and therefore repeatable, law. She too k seriously his statements indicating his followers could perform similar healing and saving works.
So, what happened two thousand years ago for a multitude in need maps the course now for a world in need. And Jesus' example gives valuable guidance for those who wish to pray but aren't sure how. Such prayer forms a spiritual underpinning to the efforts for mediation of the civil strife and to humanitarian aid for those faced with starvation. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. It is not well to imagine th at Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.
``The miracle of grace is no miracle to Love.
As we play our part, lifting our gaze higher and continuing to respond to the divine assurance that solutions are within reach, we find that God and His Christ are inevitably doing their part. And humanity, even those on the other side of the earth, are in some degree blessed.
My help cometh from the Lord.