Uncovering Truth in Syria

Article excerpt

It is frequently said that truth is the first casualty of war. Combatants employ a wide range of tactics and strategies to deceive their enemies. Evidence that appears to be valid may turn out to be untrustworthy, and crucial evidence may be missing.

As the international community seeks incontrovertible evidence about who perpetrated the recent use of chemical weapons in Syria (and why), there are claims and counter-claims from different sides. Action based on ill-founded judgment could escalate a dangerous situation.

When the world is facing difficult issues, I find inspiration in the Bible. At a time when the Pharisees were angry with Christ Jesus and seeking to trap him, he counseled his followers, saying, "[T]here is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known" (Luke 12:2). Here is calm assurance that an all-knowing God can reveal what we need to know in order to judge wisely and proceed safely. Prayer along these lines can bring invaluable guidance in times of war.

An example of the application of such prayer was described to me and others by Peter J. Henniker-Heaton, who was a contributor to the Christian Science periodicals throughout World War II and beyond. In the opening months of the war, the shipping in British coastal waters suffered heavy losses from German mines. London was the busiest port, and more than 100 ships were destroyed in the Thames Estuary alone.

There was an urgent need to uncover and defuse a mine to understand its mechanism. Many people must have been praying at this time. Mr. Henniker-Heaton was one of a team of Christian Scientists who prayed continually about this situation, acknowledging the power of an all-knowing, all-loving, and ever-present God, to uncover any evil. Subsequently, in November 1939, German aircraft were observed dropping mines offshore in a place where they could be uncovered as the tide receded. One was retrieved and found to operate by magnetic influence. That is, it was not a visible mine floating on the surface but one that lay unseen on the seabed until activated by a ship passing nearby. Given this understanding of the mechanism, ships were then protected by wrapping electric cables around their metal hulls to protect them by disrupting the magnetic field.

The ability of an all-knowing God to uncover evil is not restricted to finding and interpreting the role of physical objects but extends to uncovering and neutralizing the influence of harmful thoughts. Luke's Gospel continues: "Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light" (12:3).

This reminds me that when the kings of Israel and Syria were involved in a war in biblical times, the Israelites were saved from Syrian ambush several times because the prophet Elisha warned them not to go there (see II Kings 6:8-12). …