Two distraught devotees knelt before the Indian saint, Anandamayi Ma, pleading for her divine intervention. “Ma,” they begged, “can’t you stop this? It will produce so much suffering.”
It was 1947—the beginning of the partition of India and Pakistan into two separate countries. The two disciples kneeling before Ma were government officials, who foresaw the disruption and pain that would attend the separation.
Anandamayi Ma listened to them thoughtfully, then withdrew into herself for several hours. When she returned to outer awareness, Ma lovingly replied, “Don’t you think that He who created this world knows how to run it?”
World conditions today seem like a continuous stream of disasters, natural and man-made, causing much human suffering. From devastating fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes to mounting racial, religious, and political tensions—it’s easy to feel that God is indifferent to our pain, occupied elsewhere, or even punishing us.
Yet in Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda writes that the great master Babaji and Jesus Christ are in constant communion with each other, sending out redemptive vibrations to uplift the world. Together they have planned the means of spiritual salvation for this age.
“The work of these two fully-illumined masters—one with the body and one without it—is to inspire the nations to forsake suicidal wars, race hatreds, religious sectarianism, and the boomerang evils of materialism,” Yoganandaji writes. It’s comforting to know that higher powers are at work and are focusing directly on the problems that confront us.
In a smaller way, in our own lives we are often faced with problems that lead us to think we must take matters into our own hands. Recently I learned about a situation in which the actions of a friend of mine were upsetting others.
This troubled me, and I asked God for guidance to see if there wasn’t something I ought to do. Should I write a letter? make a phone call? I prayed: “Is there an action item here for me?”
The reply I received surprised me: “There is no action item for you, only a reaction item.”
This answer made me laugh—for I knew it was true. I would only be reacting to what I perceived was my friend’s wrong behavior: I wouldn’t be improving anything. Telling someone else how they need to change is rarely a useful tactic. The action item was God’s, and I needed to trust Him to handle it.
Watch this process in yourself. When we face a problem, sometimes there is an action item for us, and then we need to respond accordingly. But often we are only reacting, and not trusting that God is the one in charge.
When we watch disturbing news, for example, if there isn’t an “action item” for us, then allowing our negative reactions to be aroused doesn’t help the situation, or us. What does help is prayer and faith in God’s supreme power in this world.
So, who’s in charge here? The more we realize that it is God, the more we will find peace in our hearts, and be able to share that peace with all.