Pain and suffering are experiences that everyone on earth has in common. No one is immune to them.
The attacks in Ukraine and Israel are causing incredible amounts of suffering and death. Our hearts should be moved to do something. We can support humanitarian relief. We can encourage diplomacy between the nations to help bring an end to the wars.
We can also pray for God’s intervention. We are especially calling our North Pacific Union constituency to 10 days of prayer from Jan. 10–20, 2024.
The Bible tells the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Naaman was a wealthy and powerful general of the Syrian army. He was dying slowly of leprosy and had no hope of healing.
His wife’s servant girl was a captive from Israel. She told Naaman’s wife about a prophet of the God of Israel who could cure him if he asked.
She shared the good news with her husband. Hope sprang up anew in Naaman’s heart. He requested the King of Syria to let him go to Israel for a cure. The king granted his request.
Naaman quickly left with a letter from his king. He also took along his servants, silver, gold and clothing to pay for the cure. The King of Israel, upon reading the threatening letter from the King of Syria, was amazed and angry that he was demanding Naaman be cured of leprosy.
The King of Israel admitted he possessed no cure for leprosy. In other words, “Don’t look to me for something only God can do!”
We need to get this message. When we confront suffering and pain, we think the solution is government policy, diplomacy, science, psychology or technology, but the world’s darkness is too deep.
By ourselves, we cannot defeat the powers of darkness that cover the earth. More knowledge or artificial intelligence advances will not bring enough light.
Rarely do we admit how dark the world is until we experience events like 9/11, the war in Ukraine that is killing thousands of people, the attack on Israel by Hamas and resulting battles in the West Bank.
These are all wake-up calls. Yes, we need to do what is humanly possible to relieve the suffering and death we see all around us.
Yet it’s important to realize that such measures will never be enough. The powers of darkness in this world are strong. Evil resides deep in the hearts of humanity and cannot be controlled or eliminated by humanity. It takes more than human resources to destroy all pain, suffering and death.
Naaman eventually found the prophet of God. Elisha sent him on a journey. In that journey, Naaman discovered that wealth, influence or power couldn't deliver him. Instead of trusting in his own or other’s ability, Naaman learned humility and how to listen to the voice of God.
Turning toward God, Naaman was cured of leprosy and received a new relationship with the living God. Grace, joy and hope filled his heart. Suffering led to his salvation.
One of the main teachings of the Bible is that almost no one finds God or grows in His grace without suffering. Painful experiences are wake-up calls, revealing things about life and our own hearts. Even Jesus learned from suffering. Jesus calls His followers to trust Him, listen to His voice and with humble hearts face suffering with patience and courage.
The administrative leadership of NPUC is calling our constituency to 10 days of prayer and fasting. We're also inviting you to a Northwest prayer broadcast on Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. (PST). Find more details about how you and your church can be involved at npuc.org.
Recognizing the forces of darkness are covering the world in deep darkness, we know the only power to bring light and healing is God.
God will work on our behalf in answer to prayer. There is power in prayer. We need all generations in our churches to come together in prayer.
Ask our heavenly Father to bring an end to these wars that are destroying so many innocent lives.
Pray for our own government and the preservation of our democracy.
Pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.