This morning‘s TV news reports that nearly 80 people have been killed and 50 more injured by a car bomb in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Almost 1,000 homes have been destroyed in bushfires in Australia. Having spent time recently in three of the affected states, the tragedy – the unimaginable suffering of losing your entire home – is particularly palpable.
People in the Philippines are dealing with the effects of a typhoon – flooding, destruction, loss of life.
In Indonesia, another typhoon, earlier in December, caused more suffering.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen continues.
Wars in Syria and other parts of the Middle East continue to cause unimaginable human suffering- primarily, among people who have no part in the conflict.
And here I am, sitting on a couch in a motel room, watching it all in comfort. And there you are, reading this in what is likely relative comfort and safety of your own.
And this is the point where we can bring out the greatest weapon of all.
This being Christmastime, it’s worth remembering that one of the myriad reasons God sent Jesus to Earth was to re-connect us with Him. In His love, God has made it ridiculously simple to call on Him, doing so through Jesus – the only way. Not one of many “paths to the top”, but the way, the Truth and the life.
And because we happen to be in a blessed state of comfort and not running for shelter, grieving over loved ones or gazing at what used to be our homes, we can take time to lift up the people and the situation and call on God to step in and give comfort, peace and solutions.
We also have this confidence: that the Holy Spirit does not consider physical distance, but whether we’re in Vancouver’s West End, Jackson Heights in New York, or Hobart, Tasmania, our prayers will have an impact in Somalia, Syria, Philippines or wherever else they’re needed.
Remember the youth soccer team that was trapped in an underground cave in Thailand last year? I know people – even some non-believers – who were praying for them. High technology solutions failed and rescuers were prevented from getting to the boys by murky waters and a strong outflow current. Suddenly, those conditions eased long enough for the rescuers to get in and save them.
Is long distance prayer effective? You better believe it!
We have the leisure, we have the ability and we have the responsibility to call on God to resolve the disasters we see around the world. Let’s get busy!
It’s fair to ask why we need to call on God – why doesn’t He just step in when He sees something like this happening? Fair question.
Some people say it’s because He is a “gentleman” and won’t go where He’s not invited, but I believe the reason is more compelling than that. It’s because He is not a liar.
Way back near the beginning, He created humans and gave them (us) dominion over the earth. We are responsible for caring for His Creation and for one another. If He were to “step in” when He saw something He didn’t like (and Heaven knows, we’ve given Him a lot to not like over the years), He would be making Himself into a liar – giving us something and then taking it back.
He doesn’t operate that way. “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29) He stands by, waiting for us to call on Him and He responds when we do, but it’s up to us to call on Him.
“Your Heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8)
Remember that when Jesus teaches us to pray, He includes “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”. Our prayer “template” has to include the “go-ahead” for God to do His will here.