12
Apr
22

Easter, God’s Will, and the War in Ukraine

Since the beginning of time, war has been hell. 

Image courtesy of BBC News

War costs millions of innocent lives. In the blink of an eye, war destroys people, communities, vegetation, and futures.

Some of us have seen war firsthand. Most of us have just seen it on TV, or read about it in textbooks. 

Today, everything is different. 

The hellish brutality of war is, of course, unchanged. What is different about this Ukraine war is its immediacy. This brutal, unprovoked, unconscionable assault by Russia on Ukraine is perhaps the most widely viewed act of mass barbarism in human history. 

And thanks to cell phone video cameras, drones, satellites, and 24/7 news coverage, nothing about this conflict has been left to the imagination. We can now sit in our living rooms quietly sipping our tea as we watch unspeakable horror spew out before our eyes. 

It is hard to take, isn’t it?

Seeing such violence and devastation “up close and personal,” day in and day out, affects each of us in different ways. It causes some of us to turn away in disgust. It causes some of us to turn away in denial, hardening our hearts as a way of protecting them. It causes some of us to cry, scream, and shake our fists at the TV screens. 

And it causes some of us to question how a loving, all-powerful God could possibly allow such carnage and brutality to continue to exist, unpunished.

This is one of those times when evil seems to have the upper hand. Our best theology feels like a blanket of cotton candy that’s been asked to stop a hail of bullets. 

We pray. We worry. We remind ourselves of evil’s historically abysmal track record (like, 0-for-alltime). We write checks to UNICEF and Red Cross and other aid organizations.

And then we pray some more.

In the end, none of it seems to matter. The Mangling Maw of Red Death keeps swallowing everything in its path. This moment has become one of those times when even the most faithful among us wonder how we dare talk about God’s will being done, “… on earth as it is in heaven.”

Then I pause and think, “This must have been what the disciples felt like on that Saturday morning… the day after watching their leader – the One who was supposed to be the promised Messiah – brutally tortured and executed by an earlier Evil Empire.”

They must have felt similar feelings of despair… grief… anger… and helplessness. They too must have questioned the basis of their fragile faith. 

If those 11 lost, grieving souls could speak to us today, they might patiently remind us that it is NOT God’s will that thousands of innocent people die horrible deaths in Ukraine. They would tell us it is assuredly NOT God’s will that homes, churches, schools, apartment and office buildings, and trees be wantonly destroyed. 

If they could, they would look us in the eye and say, “Sometimes in life, evil seems to win the day. Sometimes every hope we have for a world of peace, prosperity, and health seems to crumble to dust, right before our eyes. Sometimes faith seems foolish.”

At that point, the Israelites – you know… the ones who were enslaved in Egypt for over 400 years – slowly nod their heads and say, “Yo. True that.”

Those disciples in one voice would then speak up and remind us of what happened on that first Resurrection Day… the day they finally learned the difference between FAITH and WISHES. They would remind us what it felt like to see that powerful demonstration of God’s unlimited power to draw LIFE from DEATH… PEACE from CHAOS… LIGHT from DARKNESS. They would testify to the change that came over their lives in that one, profound, history-bending instant. 

And then they would reach out calmly, lovingly, place their hands on our shoulders and say, “That day finally taught us that with God, the WORST thing is never the LAST thing. No matter how bad everything around you looks.”

Today, that slim, trembling branch is the one I choose to cling to. I know it’s easy to say that from the comfort of my warm, intact, unbombed home here in Fort Collins, Colorado. But my ease doesn’t make God’s promise any less true… any less reliable. 

Easter should teach us that God’s will can certainly be thwarted for a time…

… But it can never be ultimately defeated.

EVER!

Abundant blessings;


4 Responses to “Easter, God’s Will, and the War in Ukraine”


  1. April 13, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    Russell, as always, your words of care, compassion, truth, wisdom, understanding, hope, etc…they comfort me. Due to a busy schedule I have not had the time I’ve desired to just sit and read on WP. In the last 2 hours of reading I’ve commented on at least 6 posts all about faith. This world is searching. To those who have nothing to cling to; they’re longing to find SOMETHING, ANYTHING. To some, a faith in a God that would “allow” such injustice to occur does not seem plausible. And you wrote, “And then they would reach out calmly, lovingly, place their hands on our shoulders and say, “That day finally taught us that with God, the WORST thing is never the LAST thing. No matter how bad everything around you looks.” Amen, Russell! Although I’ve seen trauma in my life I’ve seen NOTHING to what our friends in Ukraine are suffering. God, have mercy on their suffering souls and show them the only hope there is–in YOU. And if all I can do is pray, send money to organizations I KNOW are helping, then that’s all I can do. But what I WON’T do is loosen my own belt of belief. As Christ-followers we can stand together in prayer, compassion, and kindness. And in every way possible, try to keep shining the light of hope that might help others find a love like no other. God bless you and yours, Russell! Thank you for encouraging us and spreading the message of hope in such tough times!!

    • April 13, 2022 at 9:34 pm

      Amen, Karla. Thank you for your faith and for that hope-filled message. My hope in Christ remains unshaken, but I can imagine that these times are incredibly challenging for those who are either new to the faith, or just watching it from the outside. I also cannot imagine how I would respond if my own home and city were being bombed every day. Lord, in your mercy…

  2. May 14, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    Russ, as you may have read in one of my recent posts, I was so inspired by the gathering of Ukranian Christians in the underground, singing to the Lord in the midst of their circumstances, drawing on the strength of God to get them through. Such faith!


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