Except you have been living underground with no contact with the outside world, you must have been following the events in Ukraine which began since the deployment of Russian troops to the Ukrainian border late last year.
In spite of all pleas and threats of sanctions by various countries as well as organisations like NATO and EU, on February 24, 2022, Russia launched what President Putin called a “Special Military Operation” as its forces moved into Ukrainian cities, launching a full scale invasion.
When all the warnings began earlier in the year following the build up of Russian military across the border of Ukraine, I began to pray that the invasion would not go ahead because I knew any war, no matter it’s scale would result in the loss of lives and property as well as the displacement of people from their homes and livelihood.
My heart became heavy and I was saddened when I saw the effect of the beginnings of the invasion. People fleeing their homes for safety and those who remained fearful for their lives. This piece is not about the politics of what is happening in Ukraine but about what our response should be as Christians in time such as these.
I am reminded of a similar situation that occurred in the Bible. News came to King Jehoshaphat of Judah one day that a vast army was coming against him and his people (2 Chronicles 20) . The army was made up of not one army but three. Predictably, Jehoshaphat became alarmed just as many of us were alarmed at the sight of tens of thousands of Russian military massing at the Ukrainian border.
What was the first thing Jehoshaphat did? “Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:3) You would have expected that the first thing he would do was call his military commanders and start strategising how they were going to defend themselves but no, he realised that God was his help in such a time as this.
The invasion of Judah by the men of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir was totally unprovoked and uncalled for. The irony of this aggression was that God specifically told the children of Israel not to invade these territories when they came out of Egypt.
In verse 13, it says, “All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.” This was a national call for prayer and everyone showed up. God responded through one of the prophets, “…Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s”
How comforting and encouraging those words must have been to the people of Judah. With God on their side and waging war against their enemies they knew the victory would be theirs and what a victory it was! They didn’t even have to fire a shot! God turned their enemies against each other and they finished each other off while the people of Judah sang God’s praise (2 Chronicles 20:22)
I must confess that I became very sad when the Russian invasion began. I had prayed, sincerely believing it would not go ahead, that a solution would be found that would make Russia recall its military but the invasion went ahead anyway. Did that mean that God didn’t answer my prayers? Definitely not.
I can see answers to my prayers, maybe not in the way I expected however with countries coming together to condemn the invasion, offering support to the Ukrainians and opening their borders for those fleeing for safety and imposing sanctions on Russia to deter them from continuing the military incursion, I believe our prayers are being answered and I know that as we continue to pray, God will honour our prayers and bring an end to this awful event.
In the meantime, what can we do as Christians? We can follow the example of Jehoshaphat by seeking God’s face first. Secondly, let us do whatever we can to support those offering refuge to those fleeing into safe havens.
Finally, let us not despair, let us keep praying because God knows what is going on, He hears us and He still answers prayers.