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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

30 September 2015: Jon Piper, Hope Church

Praying for Solutions

‘The Martian’, the best selling novel by Andy Weir, will be released as a film this week, directed by Ridley Scott. The main character is Mark Watney, an astronaut in the near future, who is stranded on Mars in the opening pages of the book, believed dead by his crew mates. Through the course of the story, Watney must use his various abilities to assure his survival until a group of astronauts can collect him.

Watney is everything that I aspired to be as a child. He is strong, funny and has a solution for every problem. He can fashion equipment to aid his survival using minimal resources. At one point, he detects a leak in an air lock by setting his arm hair on fire with static electricity.

The man is a genius.

As I hope we’re all aware, most lifesaving decisions are not so easily solved, regardless of the presence of arm hair and static charges. Luck and guile, or even intelligence and skill are no guarantor of success. We know that hard work will not always by rewarded with success. Even well-made decisions often lead to failure.

The current refugee crisis, where a vast number of people have needed to risk theirs and their families’ lives to flee their homes seems to call for Watney-style lifesaving decisions on an enormous scale. Solutions are needed for problems as diverse as how to end the rule of the Islamic State in Syria, through to where an unaccompanied child refugee spends the night.

It seems to me that, as well as offering practical help, it is also incumbent upon those of us who are Christians to pray for the people who are making these decisions. Our attitudes must reflect Jesus’ own, having far more regard for solutions that save the lives of our fellow humans than political fallout.

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