What You Can Do About Syria (Not Much and Very Much)

I read today that Americans viewed twelve times as many pages about Miley Cyrus as they did about Syria — even though the news sources published 2.4 Syria articles for every one about Miley. I read that and felt sick to my stomach. Because I wrote one of those Miley Cyrus articles. And because I haven’t figured out how to write about Syria. 

Over the past year as a devoted public radio listener I’ve imbibed something close to forty hours of Syria coverage. I’ve listened with my little girls as the fatality numbers climbed, and I’ve listened sitting on the edges of their beds as they lifted their small voices to God asking, “Please God, stop the war.”

I listened a few weeks ago as doctors described their gassed patients, children among them, fighting and failing to breathe. 

I don’t have an opinion on what America should do in Syria. Who am I—thousands of miles away listening to second hand reporting, one million people down the line in a game of telephone—to have an opinion?

I think we should stand up for the oppressed. I think we should fight evil with good. I think we should prize life. I think violence is never the answer. I think sometimes God will bring justice even through the misguided violence of humans. I think people should learn to cultivate and preserve peace. I think the people in Syria, both sides, deserve our love.

I’ve hesitated to write about Syria because I wanted to offer you an action item, a way to actually make a tangible difference in the conflict. By and large, I’ve decided there’s not much. There’s very little you can do with your able hands and ample pocketbooks about a war across an ocean, a war brewing for centuries, a war over identity and religion, freedom and possession. 

There’s not a lot you can do. But you know Someone who can do a lot, and you, precious child of His, can (must) ask for help.

I have a post among my drafts, it’s just a title actually: “Why You Should Pray for Syria.” I typed those words months ago but never returned with reasons. Today, may I offer two: Pray for Syria because it’s all you can do. And pray for Syria because it’s a huge thing to do. 

There are times in life when our hands are so tightly bound and our options so dismal that even the most jaded among us turns to prayer. This is one of those times. And while I wish we could all see prayer for the always-working, ever perfect and powerful answer it is, I am thankful for a moment when a world realizes its collective impotence and millions of hands and faces turn upward.

James wrote, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.” 

I think we should pray…

Our Father Who is in Heaven,

Hallowed be Your Name.

Your kingdom (of light and love) come

(to the Syrian people, to hearts turned hard, to nations around the world seeking answers).

Your will be done

on earth (in war torn streets and in refugee camps and around tables in situation rooms) as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

(satisfying, faithful provision for the hungry and afraid, peace for the tired, light for one night’s worth of darkness).

And forgive us our trespasses

(American, Russian, Iranian, Rebel and Syrian, Christian and Muslim),

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation (down the road marked Hate and Death),

But deliver us from the evil one (and the drowning floods unleashed by our failures).

In Jesus’ most glorious and powerful name,

Amen.