Ukraine, feeling helpless in the face of something huge, and the real power we have…

God will judge between the nations,
    and settle disputes of mighty nations.
Then they will beat their swords into iron plows
    and their spears into pruning tools.
Nation will not take up sword against nation;
    they will no longer learn how to make war.

Come, house of Jacob,
    let’s walk by the Lord’s light.

Isaiah 2:4-5

One of my earliest school memories is of our class being taken to a WW2 bomb shelter just out beyond the playgrounds. I remember the teacher saying something about it being a history lesson, and “Let’s stay down here and have class; won’t that be fun?”

It was the fall of 1962, and I was six years old. Many years later, thinking about it and matching dates with history lessons, I have concluded our little “field trip” had everything to do with the Cold War, Khrushchev’s legendary temper, and the threat of a missile strike.

school in bomb shelter – image from “MyLondon”

As a 19-year old, traveling in Ukraine (not The Ukraine, b.t.w., “the” suggests Ukraine is merely a region of something larger) I could absolutely feel some of the tension and sense the deep-seated oppression. Not that it stopped me from doing stupid things!

So today, when I read the inevitable news that Russia has started an all-out invasion, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I did not plan to write about this, but the response is visceral.

What to do when we are overwhelmed?

Immediately, I had this sense of overwhelm, feeling helpless in the face of something so big – a juggernaut event packed with uncertainty and with potentially catastrophic implications for the wide world.

What do we possibly do, when there is nothing to be done yet we are still impacted? The answer, always, is of course prayer. Not prayer as an act of desperation, but prayer because prayer is the language of our relationship with God – and we need God in every way.

The other thing I think we could/should be doing is understanding the difference between stuff we can’t control (like the pandemic, Ukraine, the stock market, other people etc.) and stuff we can influence/control (like how we treat other people, what we do with our resources etc.)

Then, once we understand where we do have influence, it is important that we actually do something about it!

For example – and this is HUGE – if we are sad, and anxious, and we cry, and we experience angst in response to what is happening in Ukraine (or the pandemic), how much more should we take steps to effect healing in those places where we actually can make a difference?!!

  • You can’t fix Ukraine, but you can be kind to your spouse!
  • You can’t stop the pandemic, but you can be an encourager to those around you!
  • You can’t stop other people from being negative, but you can be positive yourself!
  • You can’t make others generous, but you can be generous, and you can stop being so judgmental!
  • You can’t make other drivers share the road, but you can choose to yield, let them in, wave them through.
  • And this list is just the beginning of the power we have….

My point here is that the best we can do when the world overwhelms us, is to make every ounce of positive difference we can, right where we are – at home at work and in the community – and most especially in the lives of those we live with and say we love.

– NC writer Derek Maul

And prayer? Well, prayer is the language of our relationship with God, and the more we pray the more we can listen, and invite God to be with us and to work through us in all these situations.

Prayer not only changes those who pray, it effects change in the world we live in, both directly – because God is real and active, and indirectly – because when we allow God to direct our paths God uses us to effect positive change.

So this is what we are called to do:

  1. Pray. Pray privately and pray in public.
  2. Then do. Do what you can, where you can.
  3. And in all you/we do, do it in the name of Jesus and with love!

Peace – and I mean that in every way – DEREK


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