A World on the Brink?

One might be forgiven for thinking that the situation in Syria is about to explode into another world war. Whether the West takes military action or not, there are too many nations using Syria to further their own ambitions and fight their own proxy wars. The stand-off between Russia and the U.S.A. is but one element, but it is potentially deadly, and if one looks at what is happening elsewhere, the build-up of warships in the South China Sea, for example, one can feel thoroughly unsettled. So, what do we do? Do we take refuge in distractions of one kind or another, build ourselves bunkers or otherwise close our eyes to the reality of what is happening and our own part in it? Or do we indulge in a kind of gloomy fatalism, Que será, será, and leave all the worrying to others?

Our celebration of Holy Week and Easter should have reminded us that we cannot dismiss either the suffering of others or our own possible complicity in evil. We may feel powerless, but each of has a real responsibility towards the Syrian people and towards what happens in Syria. How we exercise it is the difficult point. For most of us, I suppose, the means most available to us are prayer and the forming of conscience.

When we pray for Syria, we are asking God to come into the situation and transform it as he knows best, but we are also asking him to transform us and guide our response. We are saying, in effect, that we don’t have the answers, that we know we need help, and that we trust him to act. The forming of conscience is rather trickier because many of us forget that our own opinions are not always wise or just, and though we may be very ready to share them with others, we do not always do so with discretion or judgement. The power of Social Media to shape opinion must be taken seriously, for example, but I wonder how many of us consider whether our use of it is ever sinful. We can add to the store of good or evil by our use of Social Media, almost without thinking.

This morning perhaps we could spend a few moments praying for Syria and reflecting on what we can do or not do that will be constructive of peace rather than war. And if we are honest with ourselves, we will see that this goes further than Syria. It goes to the heart of the existence of each and every one of us, doesn’t it?

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15 thoughts on “A World on the Brink?

  1. Thank you for this. As ever, it is both clear and clarifying. There was, however, a sticking point that did not smooth over upon a second reading: trusting God ‘to act’. I wonder about this a lot, especially in these vastly complicated and potent situations. It is beyond my ken, and, I see at the edges of my faith. In the meantime, I hope and I pray, for all you mentioned in the post and also for fruitful turning points for those who are suffering.

    • Thank you. In saying we trust God to act I mean that sincerely asking for God’s guidance is a prayer that never goes unanswered. He does guide us. The problem is, we do not always allow enough time to register how he is guiding us — and sometimes we reject his guidance completely. This is not a ‘voices out of thin air’ kind of guidance. We have to work at it: make sure we are properly informed, think round the implications of various courses of action and so on, but ultimately we have to trust.

  2. Absolutely! We do have a fearful tendency to want to act immediately. For the suffering Syrians some relief is surely needed… But how/what/from whom/? Even donations to charities has become problematic. With some trepidation I eventually came down on the side of Medecin sans frontieres, feeling that at the very least medical help would surely arrive there. Of course prayer, too, every night. But I know how little my efforts are, considered against the horror which has become Syria.

    • I think the question whether military intervention in Syria would constitute a just war is very complex, especially as we have as yet no idea what form such intervention might take, the grounds on which it might be argued, or the precise object it would be intended to achieve.

  3. Here in my home town we have a scheme that aims to help Syrian families settle here . We have a family from the much bombed city of Aleppo . What horrors they have seen and endured , They have taught us much about their culture and their faithfulness in prayer has sometimes put us to shame .
    Yes we do need to pray and above all trust as you say .It strengthens and comforts me to know that despite the evil ways of human kind God is in control . He will act . We need to seek him more fervently as the world continues to turn further away from Him

  4. The current problems in Syria and other areas of armed conflict in the world are not God’s fault. He has the answer – love! By loving Him and our neighbours, we have the answers and solutions as do our world leaders. That they do not act accordingly, ie bring about peace instead of ramping up the prospect of further conflict is an insult not only to God but also to us all including those poor souls experiencing directly death, maimng and destruction on a daily basis. We have a moral duty to seek a peaceful and enduring outcome for all those who are suffering in the world.

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