After weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Russia has invaded Ukraine. Women and children are fleeing the country, others are taking refuge in underground subway stations, and the death toll is rising.
As my wife and I tried to explain the situation to our kids, the questions started coming. Why is this happening? Why is the bad man hurting people? Why can’t someone stop him? Our inability to provide simple answers to questions like these reminded me of two things.
First, evil doesn’t make sense. In a world that has been artfully designed for shalom, sin and its devastating effects (violence, war, death) will always be foreign. To make sense of evil would be to create rational space for something that doesn’t belong in God’s good world. We don’t know how or why the serpent invaded the garden. But we know he didn’t belong.
Second, I don’t like feeling helpless. I want to help. I want to do something. But what can I do? I’m not a power player in this life-and-death geopolitical drama. This feeling of helplessness is exacerbated by the wonder of modern communication technology, which allows us not only to read about an invasion happening on the other side of the world but to literally see and hear it in real time.
As followers of Jesus, how do we respond to such suffering and evil? What can we do when we feel so helpless?
So let’s pray together.
God of all creation,
We come to you in with our sadness, as we grieve over what’s happening in Ukraine.
We come to you with our confusion, as we struggle to make sense of evil, violence, and war.
We come to you with our anger, as we feel helpless against powers so much bigger than us.
And yet we also come to you with hope. Because you are the King of peace, the Lord of justice. And there is none more powerful than you.
So we cry out to you.
Bring an end to this war.
Bring peace to Ukraine.
Protect the vulnerable.
Strengthen and encourage our Ukrainian sisters and brothers in Christ.
May the light of the gospel shine brightly through the church amidst such darkness.
And may the hope of your Kingdom bring peace to the streets of Kyiv.
Thank you for being a God who did not shy away from our pain and brokenness, but who drew near in love to bring peace. Enable us to find ways to draw near so that we might embody your love and peace.
In the name of Jesus, our Prince of Peace,
*If you would like to be praying for more specific needs, here are five real-time updates and prayer requests from Church leaders in Ukraine.
Church Leader #1
As we expected, Russia attacked Ukraine tonight. Russian missiles are destroying our air defenses, airfields, airports, military units, and army command posts. Civilians are also dying. Three such strikes were inflicted on the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxregion. I live close to the airport and xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, so there is a need for special protection from the Lord for my family.
Church Leader #2
Thank you for your prayers and support. Before we were planning to go to western Ukraine, but now all Ukraine is under attack, airports are closed and also under attack. So for now we stay at home in xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with our family and the church.
Church Leader #3
At the moment, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx is safe, we heard blasts from afar. A number of military bases and objects were attacked. Thank God, all the employees and remaining students are safe. Some employees are preparing for evacuation. I am taking measures to assure that everyone is safe and have everything to survive. For the next month we relocate all the educational sessions to the online format. Please keep us in your prayers. We do need them. Trust the Lord and keep walking His way.
Church Leader #4
My prayer today is that the church of Ukraine (and Russia) would use missiology and the mission of God as the primary hermeneutic tool to interpret society and politics and other social-political challenges. And that we as the children of God would not devalue, depersonalize, and dehumanize each other in the context of hybrid and political and informational wars as the disciples of Jesus. The love of the Cross is practiced not in a peaceful neighborhood, but in the context of the challenges and temptations and brokenness. It is where the power of the Holy Spirit for spreading the Good News and the relationships of the love and trust and care of the Kingdom of God is needed by Ukrainian Christians (and the Russian as well).
Church Leader #5
I am sincerely grateful to you and other friends at Langham for your care and prayers during this turbulent time.
In fact, in recent years, especially in 2014-2015, we have been expecting invasions from Russia a few times. However, this situation is much more threatening, given the size of troops on our borders and the level of anxiety in the capitals of the world’s leading countries. It is difficult to say what awaits us. Nobody knows for sure how far Russia will go, whether it will dare to occupy part of the country, whether there will be rocket attacks on our cities or whether Russia will try to capture Kyiv. Its goal is not just to conquer part of Ukraine, but to control the whole country, to establish a puppet government here that will be entirely under Moscow’s control. These circumstances create an atmosphere of tension, fear, and uncertainty.
Our family does not have clear plans for what to do next (we are buying groceries, candles, and other things, although this is a bit paranoid). If a full-scale conventional war breaks out, I will most likely try to take my wife and children out of Ukraine. I would not like to think that my loved ones, like the recent Syrian refugees in Belarus, could have to stand in front of the border of one of the neighboring countries or stand under the icy rain of water cannons.
Let us hope that this crisis will pass and not become the beginning of our national or even continental catastrophe. Everything is in God’s hands.
(These requests from a great organization that equips church leaders all over the world, including Ukraine. Their requests are anonymous for their safety.)
Grace and Peace,