Be Careful

It’s a big world, and it isn’t fixable. Sometimes — many times — it seems that I can’t do anything at all about its problems. But that’s not true.

I can watch. I can see and acknowledge the suffering. From the safety and comfort of my home I can bear witness. I can refuse to turn away.

But so what? What good does it do to pay attention?

Be careful what you pray about.

The event? A church meeting in another life. The speaker? Lost in the mists of time. The point? It wasn’t this:

Be careful what you wish/pray for —
you might get it. Hahaha.

No, he was saying this:

Be careful what you attend to
what you pray about —
because you might find
that prayer drives you to action.

It’s a big world, and it isn’t fixable. Sometimes — many times — it seems that I can’t do anything at all about its problems. But that’s not true.

I can watch. That’s how it begins.


Sayed Ahmad Sadat is an Afghan freelance journalist. This is an excerpt from his article in the National Post this week.

The almost unspeakable fear is for girls and women. Many Afghans have been sharing word of an uncorroborated Taliban announcement: Taliban workers will soon go door-to-door to collect the names of all girls and women between the ages of 12 and 42. They will be “married” to Taliban fighters. Women are the gifts of holy war. We must say it as it is: if this happens, they will be abducted from their homes and raped.

The specificity of the report has been unnerving because it has the ring of truth. A friend in Herat, Farmosh phoned me when she first heard it, terrified. It was not easy to be a voice of calm on the other end. What reassurance could I actually honestly offer? I could only try.

Rumours, reports, informal announcements and orders swirl. As I walked the streets of my city, I listened to an old man’s alleged eyewitness report of the abduction of women in his district. Was it true? Was it not? I didn’t know. Even so, I was terrified for my 20-year-old sister. The old man was shaking as he spoke.

See full (paywalled) article here.


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6 Responses to Be Careful

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Twenty million women and children have just become “collateral damage.” Victims of a war that should never have been fought.


  2. Tom Watson says:

    It’s so sad to see what’s taking place in Afghanistan. We can pray about it, but if prayer is supposed to move us to action what, in this current time, are we supposed to do. One feels helpless…and not at all hopeful for those who will be sacrificed in the aftermath of a human failure.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – I don’t know if prayer is *supposed* to move us to action – but it seems like a natural outcome. 🙂 I’d say we can’t know the answer before we ask the question.

  3. I believe prayer can impact a situation even if I have no means of acting in any other way. This type of prayer effect is hard to prove to the suspicious or to unbelievers but is is akin to praying for plants, animals, the weather, forest fires, and other realities that cannot provide verbal reports. I have prayed during the onset of a tornado and heard it rise overhead. Later, I heard a report that it had touched down and taken out a barn three miles from our house. When you engage in this kind of prayer often enough to evaluate the successes and failures, it gives you confidence in praying for something as overwhelming as the plight of Afghans in the clutch of the Taliban. If we are persistent in prayer, we can move mountains. If we join together in prayer, we can topple regimes.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Yes, it’s not readily testable, but it’s also hard to see how it would hurt to pray for peace of “regime change” – or, even, the abolition of all regimes.

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