A headline from FoxNews.com
Putin’s 40 miles of killing machines taunt Ukraine’s capital
A Tweet from The Kyiv Independent
State Emergency Service: 6 people injured in central Kharkiv rocket strike, including one child.
The missile strike hit Kharkiv’s Freedom Square the morning of March 1, damaging the Kharkiv Oblast administration building.
I’m reminded of an old hymn published in 1942 by R.E. Winsett that begins with these words:
Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear
Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake
Humbling your hearts to God saves from the chastening rod
Seek the way pilgrims trod, Christians awake
In the past, we’ve sung those words, possibly thinking of the moral degradation of our world. Or some atrocity that has occurred. Maybe, more recently we’ve thought about the Pandemic and its impact on God’s people and the ministry of the church.
However, Winsett wrote these words in the midst of World War II following Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1939. The current crisis reminds us of those days. And that evil men with ungodly motives still live and seek to impose their wicked plans on innocent people.
What we’re seeing on live TV has not been previously witnessed by this generation. It’s shocking. Sickening. And heartbreaking. Little children dying. Families separated. Everyday citizens preparing Molotov cocktails and wielding weapons to fight the invaders.
Our son, Kenny, has a close friend, John, whose brother is living in Kyiv. His name is Dave. He’s been there 10 years and married a Ukrainian lady, Marina. We think of them and other Christians who respond to the warning sirens seeking safety in bomb shelters, wondering about an uncertain future. Others are huddled in subway stations. And more than 150,000 have escaped to Poland.
There’s an interesting paradox taking place that’s not widely reported. There are Christians in Russia who are praying for their brethren in Ukraine. And Ukrainians are praying for their Russian brethren as well. We are reminded that we are “one in Christ.” Neither borders, political ambitions, or even war can separate us from the commonality we have in Christ.
All of these speak to the courage, fortitude, and faith of the Ukrainians. One mother who’s hiding in a subway with her daughter epitomizes the resolve of so many when she said, “God is taking care of us. Our spirits will not be broken for we are strong in God and we stand together in spirit and faith.”
This present distress reminds us of the Psalmist’s plea in Psalm 10.
Why, O Lord, do you stand afar off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
The Psalmist describes the arrogance, pride, and wickedness of ruthless rulers who boast, “I shall not be moved.” He preys on the helpless and murders the innocent. He plunders villages. And oppresses the poor.
Yet, in that time of trouble, the Psalmist sees help and hope from God who comes to their rescue. He hears their cry. Strengthens their souls. And judges the evildoer. Because God is the King of the nations. He rules and reigns, even in the darkest of times. And His cause will win.
May our faith in America match the faith and courage of our Ukrainian brethren. Let us pray for them. For their steadfastness, faith, and courage. For separated families. For those who’ve lost loved ones to war. For the brethren in Russia who share in their distress. For God to soften the heart of Putin, as He did with Pharaoh. And for our faithfulness and fidelity in the face of troubling times.
Oh, by the way, remember the rest of Winnett’s hymn?
Troubles will soon be o’er, happy forevermore
When we meet on that shore, free from all care
Rising up in the sky, telling this world goodbye
Homeward we then shall fly, glory to share
Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon
Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound
All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies
Going where no one dies, heavenward bound
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman