Thoughts on Ukraine

A lot has changed in our world this past week. All eyes have been on Ukraine, as people from all nations are watching Russia lead an unjust and unprovoked invasion on their neighboring country. It has been heartbreaking to watch so many families be broken apart. The UN reports that more than 800,000 civilians have fled Ukraine to Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Moldova. The EU is also now estimating that up to 4 million Ukrainians may end up trying to leave the country because of the Russian invasion. Tragically, many of these families will never be reunited as the same because the death counts for both soldiers and civilians continues to rise daily. Continuously watching this news coverage can quickly become overwhelming. We all carry a heavy burden for those who are suffering, but many of us also carry a heavy anxiety over the impact this war could make on our own nation. Unfortunately, moments of crisis like this seem to be inevitable in our broken world. That’s why it’s important for the church to learn how to navigate through these storms with a Biblical worldview. Considering that, I’d encourage each of you to do three things this week.

First, look outward. The Ukrainian people are suffering deeply, and you and I should strive to bring them comfort. Paul reminds us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). I believe we can bring comfort to the Ukrainians in two primary ways. The first is through prayer. Commit to pray for God’s peace and comfort to reign in the hearts of those who are suffering. Pray for God to make Himself known in this situation, and for the Gospel to shine brightly into dark places. But also consider bringing them comfort through your generosity. I’m proud of our church for sending $25,000 this week to provide aid for refugees, and I’d encourage you to prayerfully consider making an individual contribution to one of our partnering organizations.

Secondly, look upward. The author of Hebrews tells us to “look to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2). Our great high priest is our anchor in the storm (Hebrews 6:19), and through Him we can receive the grace of God that we need (Hebrews 4:16). God reminded Isaiah during his own tumultuous times that “I am the first and the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen” (Isaiah 44:6-7). No one is like our God. He alone is before all things and He alone is ahead of them. He was not caught off guard by the invasion, and He is no less sovereign than He was before this war. Evil cannot thwart God’s purposes or His promises (Genesis 50:20), and the kingdom will continue to expand through this (Matthew 16:18). So fear not, nor be afraid, but instead cast all of your anxiety on Him this week because He cares for you (Isaiah 44:8, 1 Peter 5:7).

Finally, look forward. War is a horrible thing to endure, but we must not forget that one day all wars will finally cease. Isaiah tells us, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them…They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6,9). One day death shall be no more (Revelation 21:4), and all nations will know that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:11). Earthly kingdoms always come and go, but the kingdom of God lives forever. And the good news is Jesus has promised to make room for us to live with Him forever. That’s why He tells us “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2). So I encourage you this week, don’t let your heart be troubled like the rest of the world, because your hope goes far beyond this world. Look forward to heaven, and let the comfort of its certainty transform your heart and mind this week. Keep your eyes on Jesus this week, and I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday.

Onward and upward,

Jonathan Spencer

Last Sunday’s Sermon: Jesus is Better – “A Better Covenant” – Hebrews 8

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