7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7 (NLT2)
1 Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. Isaiah 62:1 (NLT2)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ 44 But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. 46 Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! 47 And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! 48 You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 (TEV)
In these days, when there are wars in the world, battles in our communities, and even in our denominations, it is easy to pray for those we perceive as the victims, and ask God for revenge and curse those who oppose them.
It seems obvious today, in the midst of what is happening in the Ukraine – as the world takes sides, arms their military, and throws economic power around as Russia and the Ukraine go to war. There will be victims that surely need our help. but here is what is controversial….
both sides need our prayers. And we need to encourage them to pray for each other.
God has his people pray for those in captivity, and those who were their captives in the verses above from Jeremiah and Isaiah. He even called on the “victims” to do their best to help those who oppressed them. (think about Joseph – who did the same in Egypt – where he was enslaved!) God calls us to pray for enemies and those who perseccute us – and that means, in the case of two countries where there are Christians, we need to encourage them to pray for each other, and the leaders of both countries.
THis is true in the battles we see throughout our lives as well – we need to pray for those who oppose us, who make our lives a struggle.
Not easy, our nature is to protect what is ours, to defend those we love, not to love those who hate and hurt us.
Yet this is the call we have – as we dwell in the love of Jesus, who did exactly this for us. Don’t try to pray for them without meditating on God’s love first – it will be too hard. But think for the cross, think of His love and mercy and compassion demonstrated there. Find your peace, your refuge in Jesus. Know how much He loves you….
and then pray – for the Ukraine and Russia, for the leaders of both, and for those engaged in the fight. That they would know God’s love… and then that the Holy Spirit would bless them…. as He has blessed you!
By the way – do the same for those in your community, your workplaces, churches, denomination.
Devotional and Discussion Thought of the Day:
1 How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! Psalm 133:1 (NLT)
756 I advised you to inject a great deal of supernatural outlook into every detail of your ordinary life. And I added immediately that living with other people provided you with ample opportunity throughout the day. (1)
I’ve heard a lot of speculation recently on Israel and Palestine, people trying to justify the killing that is going on, from one side or the other. Even the passages from scripture, about wars and rumours of wars have been used to justify war, ( I think those passages can bring us comfort and solace – but to justify it?) The same kind of speculation about what is going on in Iraq, and in the Ukraine, and in a dozen other places around this world.
Yeah, there are going to be wars. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it! It doesn’t mean, that like Pope Francis, we can’t pray diligently that these brothers would stop warring against each other. (It amazes me For them to realize they are brothers and sisters, that who they are killing are their own.
(Yeah, I realize that what I am saying is going to tick them both off at me – but hey – it just proves that they can agree on something!)
Its hard for them to see, I realize, that they are all related through Noah, and perhaps through Abraham. That even more, as people who Jesus Christ was crucified to redeem, they could be brothers via the application of His blood for all the sins that separate them. After all, we see such an example in people like the Apostles Matthew and Simon the Zealot, and of course in the Apostle Paul
Peace, real peace, not just a passing cease fire, or a UN mediated true, has to come spiritually, It has to come from the One who died to end sin, to bring hope, to establish peace in our hearts. As St Josemaria wrote, we have to increase our awareness of the supernatural, of the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Only then will we see our brothers and sisters in a different light, only then will we see them as children of God, as righteous in Christ, and realize that to cause them sorrow, is to cause ourselves sorrow. Consider these verses, and God’s call to love your adversaries,
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Romans 12:14-16 (NLT)
That is true whether we are talking about national and international battles, or the battles that can rage in our workplaces, or homes. Or the relationships that cause us stress, anxiety, even mild cases of paranoia.
Is it possible to live at peace? I do not know. I know it is possible to live In peace, the peace of Christ.
May you find yourself drawn into that peace, and may you draw those you are “at war” with, into that peace as well.
And pray, for the peace of Israel, and for those who oppress them! (Jeremiah 29:7)
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3142-3144). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.