How are you praying for Afghanistan?
An occasional column sharing how readers are praying about current needs in the world.
Like many others, I have been praying in recent days about the challenging situation in Afghanistan. The task of safely evacuating thousands of people seemed overwhelming to me. But as I earnestly prayed, the twenty-third Psalm suddenly came to thought in a totally new way, strengthening and comforting me. It begins, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (verse 1). In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy presents a spiritual interpretation of this line. She writes: “[Divine love ] is my shepherd; I shall not want” (p. 578).
At that moment, I saw divine Love, God, as the all-embracing, all-powerful, ever-tender, and disciplined Shepherd of every individual needing to leave Afghanistan. There are many diligent, heartfelt efforts being made by governments and others to evacuate individuals, and yet, no matter what means are or aren’t available humanly, I began to gain a higher view of trusting in and depending on the all-knowing divine Mind and its infinitely effective and original means of taking its children to safety. In fact, the power of God, divine Mind, is universal and all-loving, and is therefore a power that all can put their trust in. Turning earnestly to divine Mind brings to light ideas that may previously have been unseen. As written in the book of Job, “There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen” (28:7).
I was reminded of the children of Israel and their escape from Egypt—how divine Love shepherded them along every step of the way, right to the shore of the Red Sea, and then opened a path through the Red Sea, making what seemed totally impossible to the material senses suddenly completely possible. And all of the children of Israel escaped safely. In fact, when the Egyptians tried to follow them, the path simply closed up.
I saw that this is true for Afghans, for Americans, and for all who need ways, at any time, to find safety—that divine Love is opening paths for them that are superbly creative, never before imagined by the human mind or the material senses. And they are paths that can’t be used for evil.
When Christ Jesus was teaching and preaching in the synagogue at one point, many who heard him were antagonized by what he’d said. In fact, they were so angry that they “rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way” (Luke 4:29, 30). What a perfect, comforting example of divine Love’s shepherding of those who need protection from malicious thinking and acting! In fact, the Christ-power manifested by Jesus over two thousand years ago is with each one of God’s children today, present in every individual human consciousness.
The Master, according to the book of Hebrews, “loved righteousness, and hated iniquity” (1:9), and this is a vital part of the theology of both Christianity and Christian Science. It’s iniquity—malicious, evil thinking and acting—that divine Love both condemns and destroys by virtue of its own infinitude and omnipotence. It’s fundamental in Science to understand the great truth that God—limitless, omnipresent, and total good—never created evil or a creation capable of evil thinking and acting. Therefore, when evil suggestions have been accepted into thought, they can be thwarted and shut out of human experience by the power of God, good, before they are carried out in actions. But this requires that we actively bear witness to the power of this truth.
It’s natural to understand that evil thinking and intents would be shut out of righteous paths. And that this kind of thinking, this way of acting, would ultimately be self-destroyed because—God being All and the only power and presence, on earth as in heaven—evil has no real origin or presence to give it support, activity, or power.
Mrs. Eddy carries that spiritual interpretation of the twenty-third Psalm all the way to the end. And as I went through it, I could see how it applied to the many “sheep” in Afghanistan needing divine Love’s shepherding power to escape persecution and destruction—with particular love and care for those most threatened, including girls and women. Because divine Love is not only the Father but also the Mother of all creation, this Love is the all-powerful defender of womanhood and motherhood—the spiritual womanhood whose authority and power were demonstrated in the life of Mary Baker Eddy.
Here’s the entire psalm with its spiritual interpretation from Science and Health—a prayer for all involved:
] is my shepherd; I shall not want.
[Love ] maketh me to lie down in green pastures: [love ] leadeth me beside the still waters.
[Love ] restoreth my soul [spiritual sense]: [love ] leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for [love ] is with me; [love ’s] rod and [love ’s] staff they comfort me.
[Love ] prepareth a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: [love ] anointeth my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [love ] for ever.”