Finding a positive in the Ukraine

Having had our lives disrupted by Covid Pandemic over the past two years I want to ask you a question

How are you going?

We’ve had our share of anxiety perpetrated by the fear mongering of our government, supported by many analysts with their guesses, and who could forget the epidemiologists who become household names wheeled out night after night on our television screens.

So how are you?

Feeling better knowing the occupation of Parliament is over and mandates may end, the borders are reopening, and family is coming home or are you concerned now about the rise in living costs, empty shelves at the supermarket, rising inflation and petrol in some parts in the country over $3 a litre?

And of course, the war in the Ukraine is it all impacting on your mental state?

I was recently involved in a discussion with friends about wellbeing.

They tell me that the War in Ukraine puts our problems over the past two years into perspective.

I agreed that not being allowed into a café or restaurant because I didn’t or refused to show my vax certificate was minimal to having your city pounded by the Russian army.

But at the same time, let’s not minimise our problems just because someone is going through something greater.

Right now, it is a fearful time but keep in mind, we are as our leaders say we are living in unprecedented times.

Christians around the world certainly are in no doubt what these unprecedented times are

In the Bible book of Matthew Jesus told his disciples on the Mount of Olives about todays unprecedented times as the end of the times

Matthew 24:6-

6 You will hear of wars and rumours of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

32 2 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it[e] is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you; this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

You know our state of mind does have a huge bearing on how we see things.

We are not to be brought down and we’re encouraged to throw our burdens onto the Lord for He is there to help carry them. As the Psalmists says

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19

So going back to the idea that our problems are not as great as the people in Ukraine.

Well, it depends on the circumstances as to whether we take a victim mentality or not.

Having your home bombed may cause you rightful anxiety but is not the same thing not happening to your neighbours, your community, and your country.

You have a right to be aggrieved but you know sometimes we have to accept there are a lot of things that are out of our control.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

I was encouraged to read an article by an American born pastor and missionary Benjamin Morrison last week who along with his Ukrainian born wife and their two children who have been living for the past 20 years in Ukrainian city of

Svitlovodsk.

Putting things into perspective Morrison says Russia has been warring against Ukraine since 2014, but this is an unprecedented phase.

Still, it’s amazing how quickly one gets used to the mundane realities of war.

On day one, the news of other cities being bombed caused great anxiety in the city of where he lives

 He says the fact that the news woke us up before dawn and was very unexpected made it much worse. The intent to cause panic seemed planned.

Now, on day seven, the adrenaline has worn off. They had become used to the 8 p.m. curfew and sitting in a dark apartment at night.

Morrison said they found themselves ignoring some of the air raid sirens—especially the ones in the middle of the night, we’re so exhausted. We’ve also learned that not every siren means a bomb might drop on our heads.

Now I admit, not everyone can do what Morrison is now doing, and there are times the family heads to the bomb shelter.

Taking advantage, not sitting with his family mithering about their lot he takes it as an opportunity to share the hope of Christ with our neighbours.

“Bomb shelter ministry” is, he admits, not a ministry profile he thought he’d ever have. And yet, he is already seeing how fruitful it’s been

Our neighbours have heard more about Christ, heard more Scripture, and been led in more prayer in the last week than most would have in their lives.

In addition to the “Our Father” prayer, I’ve taken to reading various Psalms with them—a particularly fitting book for us in Ukraine, as David often cries out amid being hunted by his enemies.

One of our neighbours is the equivalent of our building superintendent. The other night in the bomb shelter, she said with tears in her eyes how thankful she was to have neighbours like us.

She said she can’t understand “where we came from.” We got to remind her that if there is something different, it is only because of the hope Christ gives us.

Despite considerable time spent in the bomb shelter during air raids, his city has so far avoided any actual bombing. There’s a lack of strategic targets nearby. This, along with the fact that we are at a crossroads in the country, has made Svitlovodsk a refugee destination—that and God’s providence.

This is the case with most refugees who make it this far. We are just an inn for weary travellers on the way.

 But we hope to serve them and help them experience the love and peace of Christ, even if only for a few hours.

 It is not our job to force them into faith—an evangelistic approach that rarely produces satisfactory results. Rather, we will play whatever role God grants us: to plant a seed, to water—or to harvest when ready.

He is the one who brings the fruit in his time, and we can rest in that.

All these stories should remind us of a vital truth: that God’s victory is always subversive. Whatever the Enemy intends for evil, God always takes and uses for good.

This means the more the Enemy rages, he only brings his own destruction closer.

God turns the Enemy’s weapons against him, just as David did with Goliath’s sword—and what Christ did in his death on the cross.

When the Enemy thought he finally had Jesus’ right where he wanted him, it turned out he was dealing his own death blow.

 Our Lord overcame by using the Enemy’s own weapons against him.

We take comfort in that—especially as Ukraine faces an enemy who rages, both in the Devil who loves to “steal, kill and destroy” and in those pseudo kings who are the Devil’s pawns.

Benjamin believes both will shortly find themselves overthrown by God’s wonderfully ironic victory.

Pray for the refugees we are expecting over the next days,

Pray that we will serve them well and show them the love of Christ and that God would open doors.

Pray for strength and wisdom amid so many needs.

Pray for the people who Benjamin comes into contact to come to know the beauty of the gospel in their lives.

Pray for God’s subversive victory to come swiftly against the tyrant terrorizing their country.

Pray for God to be glorified in humbling the pride of man.

Final word” regardless of your circumstances God will use you, whatever burdens you have he will carry them, and keep lifting your eyes to the heavens, because this is where your salvation will come from.

So, hearing Benjamin Morrisons story what can you do to turn your current circumstance into a positive for the Kingdom of God?

Can you turn your test into your testimony?

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