The World’s Eyes Are On Ukraine
Last week, Russian military forces invaded Ukraine, demanded unconditional surrender, and at the time of this writing, were marching towards the capital of Kyiv. As some Ukrainians fight for their land and others flee for their lives, the rest of the world is asking, “When and where will this end?”
Every headline, news update and phone notification remind us how quickly a world that took so long to build can be destroyed so quickly. Helicopters in the air, troops on the ground, protests in Moscow, and the volatility of the stock market are all reminders of how unstable and illusive and elusive ongoing peace can be.
So where can we turn to when it appears the world is being turned upside down? How can we encourage ourselves when it appears there is so little to be encouraged? What can we remind ourselves of?
- Remember that nothing is out of God’s control. God is ultimately sovereign and working all things out for the good of those who love Him. Proverbs 21:1 states, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” God is ultimately the only who can change a heart in your house, the White House or the Kremlin. Secondly, those in political authority, even unjust leaders, are placed there by the hand of God for His purpose. Paul writes to the Romans 13:1, “…For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” In that same letter Chapter 8:28, Paul writes, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” There is nothing taking place in the world today, or on any day, that God is not somehow using for the good of His people.
- Don’t be alarmed by wars and rumors of war. Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 24:6, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” In telling his disciples not to be alarmed, He reminds them of at least two things: 1. These things must take place. This would imply both that we live in a fallen world where unfortunately, wars are declared by and propagated upon sinful people. If we look at history, unfortunately this the default position of people. 2. Jesus tells them that the “the end is not yet.” Jesus is telling them literally, “these things will not be the end of the world.”
- Don’t just pray, pray more diligently. Paul reminds us that our struggles are never against other people. He writes to the Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” When men fight in battle, it is never about the enemy, it is because they are fighting at the prompting of someone else for a specific purpose. Likewise, I am convinced that every battle on earth is a result of battles that are taking place in the heavenly places. Therefore, we need not feel that our responsibility is to take matters into our own hands. Rather we pray, love, serve, and only fight physically if we are commanded to do after every other option have been excused.
- Look for opportunities to make a difference. Vasyl Ostryi is a pastor who decided to remain at his church near Kyiv instead of fleeing the ensuing firestorm. In addition to a place of fasting and praying, the church has become a heating center, a venue where medical training is offered and a facility that can be used in a military hospital. He writes, “If the church is not relevant at a time of crisis, then it is not relevant in a time of peace.” Although we are far from the conflict, we still have a responsibility to make a difference. Especially here in Dayton, home to a major military base, we can serve families that are serving our country. Look for opportunities to care for and support families of military members who will be serving more, serving in different capacities, and serving away from home.
- Extend extra hospitality to those who are also suffering. History teaches us during times of conflict, people tend to discriminate against and mistreat their neighbors who have immigrated from the homeland of aggressive enemy. Yet we must be level-headed and consider a couple things. In Leviticus 19:34, God instructs his people; “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. We are commanded to treat immigrants well because at one time, all our Spiritual and physical ancestors were themselves strangers in a land that was foreign to them. Secondly, we should realize that our immigrant neighbors are often fleeing the same injustice and oppression that we are currently waring against.