What in the World is Happening?

Thoughts On Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

This past week has been a scary time in our world. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has once again questioned the stability of our world and the lives we lead. As we read the news reports it’s full of mixed messages—is China collaborating with Russia to destabilize Europe and the U.S.? What images are from this conflict and represent what’s happening in Ukraine? How long will this go on and where is it headed? Are we at the beginning of the path leading to World War III?

These questions and more are going around at work, with friends, and around our dining table at home these days. In some ways, it feels so far away and like someone else’s problem. But it also feels like it could turn into something much scarier.

During Russia’s military build up on Ukraine’s border last week, my son Matthias and I had a chance to talk about this conflict. We’ve been reading through the Bible together this year and meeting Friday morning before he goes to school to talk about what we’re reading and what’s going on in our lives. I’ve wanted to read through the Bible with him like this for a long time and felt excited when he came to me saying he wanted to read together his senior year before he goes away to college.

At first, it might seem like a daily Bible reading and weekly meeting doesn’t have much relevance to this war that has erupted in our world. But our reading has been establishing the building blocks for the way we see the world. When we see a war in our time it’s important we know the Bible has recorded these kinds of conflicts for thousands of years. The Bible is no stranger to power hungry despots inflicting pain in an attempt to make a name for themselves.

Since the man and the woman encountered the serpent in the Garden of Eden, humanity has faced the choice about whether to seek their life in the exercise of autonomous power or to find life in submission to the loving Creator God.

The end of the Story is so helpful for framing our own day. The book of Revelation is usually seen as a mysterious book with hard to understand timelines about the end of the world. Sadly, like many things in the Church, we have managed to take a message of hope and encouragement and turn it into something to avoid.

In reality, John wrote the book of Revelation to a suffering first century Church to say, “No matter how bad it looks, no matter how bad it gets, persevere and trust the Lord. He is in control and will set everything right in the end.” It’s easy to lose sight of the Story we live in.

When we encounter worldwide pandemics, fires ravaging our lands, contentious political elections, and warring countries, it’s easy and even natural to feel scared and anxious about how it will all turn out. But the story in which we live is one that begins in a garden, endures widespread power grabs, sees a savior take the world’s pain on His shoulders on our behalf, and ends with heaven and God’s presence coming to earth.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

As we read the news about Vladamir Putin’s war on Ukraine, may we take these words to heart. May we pray for our believing brothers and sisters on both sides of the conflict. Pray for a quick end to the violence and for Ukraine’s firm resistance to the Russian forces. Whatever happens, may we live in the Story beginning in the Garden, ending with God’s presence on the earth, and may we find comfort and courage to engage our world.

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