16 February 2023 | St. Albans, UK [Kayle de Waal]
I must confess, there are days when I don’t want to watch the news. The never-ending cycle of bad news can certainly take its toll on one’s outlook and perspective. My mobile phone used to notify me of news alerts until I switched the alerts off. There’s no question that media is ubiquitous in contemporary society. We’ve also seen the dramatic shift to visual imagery in news items, especially imagery contributed by the audience and garnered by journalists from social media. Folk are right there where the action is taking place, bombarding our eyes. News anchors warn us of what’s coming – but it still comes! Over the last year, our minds have been gripped and hearts deeply saddened at the images of the unfolding war in Ukraine, and now over the last two weeks, the horrific earthquake in southern Türkiye and northern Syria, with the ensuing loss of human life on an unimaginable scale.
In the midst of the distressing media headlines and news output, prayer is our lifeline to God. Prayer matters because God still speaks. The verb akouó (to hear) is used on more than 400 occasions in the New Testament. The New Testament was written to hearing communities of Christ-followers across the Mediterranean and is central to the message of Jesus. He says in Luke 11:28 “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” God is speaking and desires to continue to speak to us.
How do we discern God’s voice outside of Scripture? Is the impression leading us to kindness? Is the impression leading us to act in love and service? Does the impression last, that is, do I distinctly remember what I felt the next day? Is the impression in line with the principles of God’s Word? Is the impression in harmony with my spiritual giftedness? If the answer is ‘yes’ to these questions, then God is speaking to you. The more we exercise our faith in Jesus, the more familiar and precious His voice becomes.
Prayer also matters because God is still actively working in the midst of the suffering in war-torn countries, social crises, and the devastation in Türkiye and Syria. Scripture reminds us that God is invisible (Heb. 11:27) and because he lights everyone who has come into the world (John 1:9) we acknowledge that he is at work through humanitarian and government agencies and in a myriad other ways I cannot even begin to write about. While social media is wall-to wall, only God is omnipresent. He is the Creator of time and space and is able to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). Therefore, we are called to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Let’s continue to pray for various aid entities, rescue teams, investigators and for grieving children and families. Prayer works because God works even more.
In the event of a fire in your home, the last thing you want to do is run around in the burning house (as is often seen on TV). The temperature at head level may well reach 600 degrees, and one blast of that heat could destroy your lungs. The only way to survive is on your hands and knees. At floor level, the temperature may only be 150 degrees, and crawling to an exit is the one way to withstand such conditions. For us as Christian’s, such conditions are not the extreme, but the norm. We need to stay on our knees to survive!
Can I invite you today to keep in prayer the work of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), specifically their support for the emergency relief effort in Türkiye and Syria:
For the teams in the field, for protection, wisdom and capacity to mobilise resources.
For doors to open – for the ADRA Europe office team to find tents – because the biggest need is shelter, and finding fire-proof tents to purchase to ship to Türkiye, at this point in time is difficult.
For the rescue efforts in Türkiye to work well, since it is a country where there is no established ADRA office. The operation is currently being developed by an ADRA team sent to the field – and local church volunteers
Kayle B. de Waal, PhD, serves as the Disciple-Making and Education director, and Prayer Ministry coordinator for the Trans-European Division.
[Photos: ADRA Europe and Pexels pictures by Matheus Bertelli].