Faith and Suffering

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

One week ago, we woke up to the news that Russia had invaded Ukraine. A missionary, Karen Zelfimyan and Ukraine Harvest Ministries, my Connecticut church supports in Ukraine. Karen and his family had to evacuate their home because of the bombing of Kiev and went to Moldova. They and their team are helping the refugees by providing food, clothing and spiritual comfort. These are men, women and children whose lives that have been upended through President Putin’s decision. Not only do we have a concern for our Christian brothers and sisters in Ukraine, but also for our brothers and sisters in Russia. I heard a report that they are weeping because of what their leaders’ decision. There are many other Christian missionaries, pastors and leaders in Ukraine who are working for His Kingdom during this time. They need our prayers and support. I believe God is working to bring a greater unity in His body during this time.

I sit here, comfortable in my home. In times past, as an immature believer, I might have simply been thankful it wasn’t me or my family under attack. But today, I know my brothers and sisters in Ukraine are hurting. They aren’t some nebulous “they,” but they are like-minded brethren who accepted Jesus and His salvation, just like me. Using the word “my” brothers and sisters really brings it home.

As of now, (both Ukraine soldiers and civilians and Russian troops) the Ukraine president has recorded over 9,000 deaths. The number varies according to the reporter, but we do know that many have been killed or injured. With every bombing, homes, hospitals, businesses are destroyed. People’s lives forever changed.

Why does this feel or seem different than the other wars that are happening around the world? I don’t know. But it just does. It might be remembering how World War 2 began with a similiar type invasion. Jesus warned us: You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Matthew 24: 6 (NLT) We must first make sure that we do not fall into fear mode. The New Living Translation says “do not panic”, other translations use the word “do not be troubled”. This is on us. It is up to each of us to walk in trust, peace and faith. Releasing our faith, through prayer, for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and Russia. Praying for their leaders to make the wisest choice possible.

Build up your faith. Take time to read the amazing stories of intervention by God, for His people in 2 Kings 19:14-19. The first thing King Hezekiah did when confronted by the impending invasion of the Assyrians was run to the temple and pray. That should be our first plan of action. Prayer. We find God’s answer in 2 Kings 19:35-36 (ESV). And that night, the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when the people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria, departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. Do you believe that the God of Hezekiah could/would still intervene in a supernatural way? I do. I believe we will begin to hear stories of God’s salvation and miracles for His people as we pray in faith and believe. Please do not underestimate the power of God to show forth His glory in this situation.

What about your situation today? Are you in some sort of troubling circumstance. Be encouraged. Seek Him. Ask Him to show you the way out, the way through, or if you should simply stand and see His salvation. He is working on our behalf, no matter where we are. Our brethren in Ukraine are suffering. Let’s believe that the Karen Zylfemyan’s of this world were set in place to help spread the gospel during this tough time in their country. God is going to use this for His good and His glory. People who would never turn to Him are going to turn to Him for help and find salvation. We must not be alarmed, panicked or troubled. If Jesus told us there would be wars, then He has a plan to use them.

Let us pray for President Putin. Is his heart hardened like Pharoah’s? Only God knows. Let us pray for President Biden and other world leaders as they respond (not react) to this invasion. Our God is reigning, we must not forget. Look Up, my friends, for our redemption draws nigh. God has placed His people strategically in these places and wants to use their feet on the ground for His purposes. He wants to use us to help strengthen them through prayer and encourage them with our gifts.

Father, I pray for our brethren in Ukraine and Russia. I pray for Your plan to be worked out for good for Your Kingdom’s sake. Bless, strengthen, and encourage those who are in such hard places today. Multiply their supplies. Give them wisdom, grace and mercy. Comfort the hurting. Thank you. We have the privilege of praying for them. I ask that Your power and might intervene on their behalf, now in Jesus’ Name. Show us what to do practically to help them, as well.

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