There are a lot of things to worry about at the moment.
The cost of living is increasing sharply, with many people across our community struggling to support themselves. There are still great uncertainty about Covid. There are many whose wait for medical treatment will be a long one, which needs to be met by caring staff who are weary (including of course many of you reading this). And there’s still a lot of fear about the future of our planet and the damage we as a species have inflicted on the environment.
Ukraine and Eastern Europe
Then of course we turn to this week’s events in Ukraine and Eastern Europe and the fact that Vladimir Putin has ordered an invasion of Ukraine, determined to make that country part of Russia whether they like it or not. This will undoubtedly cause all kinds of chaos and misery, including the possibility of many thousands of deaths. It is indeed a scary moment, with a lot at stake. There are indeed a lot of things to worry about at the moment.
How are we to respond to such a moment?
How can we try and live lives of Christian hope when the forces of wickedness seem so overwhelming?
We start by being honest, with God and with each other. If we are struggling, whether with personal problems or with fear of what is going on, we won’t get anywhere by pretending everything is fine. Share that struggle with God, include your fear in your prayers (even if that prayer is: Lord, I don’t know what to do! HELP!)
Talk to Others
And if you are feeling uncertain or anxious, share that with other people too – we are called as Christians to encourage and support one another, which is impossible if we don’t acknowledge our struggles, that there are things to worry about.
We are bequeathed peace
Jesus promised that his peace would be left with us, peace which the world cannot take away (John 14:27) – a promise made on the night when he was to face betrayal, arrest, torture and death. But we have no hope of finding this peace if we pretend we don’t need it and pretend we are fine. Only be being honest about our troubled hearts can we have any chance of finding the grace and strength we need to face dark times and as we have things to worry about.
God Remains God
One other thing to remember – God remains God, whatever situations we or the nations of the world are facing. Indeed, we read in the Bible that: “even the nations are like a drop from the bucket and are accounted as dust on the scales” (Isaiah 40:15). That does not mean that what happens in Ukraine (or anywhere else) does not matter. But it does remind us that the God we follow has a wisdom and purpose that cannot be overcome by any violence, sorrow or despair.
Let us also remember to pray - God Remains God
As we seek to serve God in an unsettling world, let us also remember to pray. To pray for the people of Ukraine, now on the frontline of an aggressive and violent war. To pray for Ukrainian church leaders, now called to shepherd their flocks on behalf of Jesus the Good Shepherd in times that will be incredibly difficult. To pray too that the hope and possibility of peace will not be lost in the chaos, that those with power will act with justice, mercy and wisdom for the sake of the common good. And to pray for ourselves, that we may be a people who are faithful in times of trouble and times of peace, always ready to live lives that bring the saltiness of heaven to an earth flavoured with so much pain.
You may find this prayer helpful:
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
kindle in the hearts of all people the true love of peace;
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth;
that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.