Just when I thought life was returning to normal as the pandemic transitions to the endemic phase, another event has dashed that illusion: war right next door. Because of its geopolitical implications, the war in Ukraine will impact us all, and the existing world order will be altered for the foreseeable future. How can we avoid falling into despair? I’d like to remind us of four essential truths.
- God cries over us. The Lord is not indifferent to human suffering. The fundamental truth of the Bible is that God loves us much more than we could ever imagine, and his love motivates everything he does. Jesus showed us the divine heart when he cried over the human condition. The whole purpose of the incarnation was to deliver us from our hopeless state. Yes, I can hear the objections, “So why is there so much suffering?” which leads to my second point. (1)
- Evil exists because people aren’t listening to God. We blame God for all that’s wrong, but the reality is that those things happen because people refuse to follow him. We’ll never understand why he’s given us such freedom of choice, but it’s important to remember that he’s never the cause of evil. On the contrary, he has shown us the way to life, joy, and peace, but people ignore him. We can’t downplay the influence of Satan, either, who sows death and destruction the world over. (2)
- God somehow uses evil for his purposes. I’m not implying that bad things must happen for good to come out of it. By no means! I’m convinced the Lord would much prefer to use positive means to accomplish his will, but his power and sovereignty are such that evil can never keep him from achieving his goals. He’s able to turn any bad situation around, and this gives us a reason to hope. (3)
- We will never be secure on earth. I don’t mean to sound discouraging, but the truth is that our planet has fallen under the control of Satan, who’s described as a lion wanting to devour everyone in his path. We must expect and be ready for adversity, realizing that the earth is a spiritual battlefield. But the good news is that we’re not left alone in the fight. God is willing to walk by our side if only we’ll follow him. And this world is not the end – we are made for eternity. (4)
In the first days of the war in Ukraine, a Polish journalist was interviewing people in Kyiv who had taken refuge in the subway. A girl of about 10 had three pet rats in a cage, and she tenderly held each one in turn as she said their names. Her love for them burst through the TV screen. Whenever I think of that scene, I dissolve into tears, as if it’s become a symbol of the innocent life that’s been so cruelly destroyed.
I share this story because, by listing these truths, I don’t mean to minimalize the calamity of war and suffering. On the contrary, the tragedies that strike us should rightfully cause us to grieve and mourn. My reason for writing is to give us a reason never to lose hope.
(1) Luke 19:41-42, Romans 8:35-39
(2) Matthew 23:37-38, Romans 3:10-18
(3) Romans 8:28, Ephesians 1:11, Genesis 50:19-20, Philippians 1:12-14
(4) John 16:33, 1 Peter 5:8-9