EVANS MILLS — For more than a month, my thoughts and prayers (and perhaps yours as well) have been focused and preoccupied with the situation in Ukraine.
I have agonized over the tragic and devastating circumstances taking place in that country.
Imagine waking up one day and instead of hearing the sounds of singing birds, children at play, neighborhood businesses and normal traffic, you are abruptly startled by the sounds of artillery bombardment, rumbling armored vehicles and tanks, small arms fire and invading troop movements.
Your country is being attacked and invaded.
The attack is premeditated and unprovoked.
A merciless tyrant and dictator is at work!
Unheard of in our time? Not anymore!
The circumstances unfolding there have led me to think, how often do we take living in relative peace and freedom for granted, especially within the United States of America?
Maybe you and I lived with a certain sense of invincibility.
But then the unthinkable happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
The sobering truth of the matter is that the sinful nature of man is on display every day in our world.
The 15th century German Reformers, in a document called the Augsburg Confession written in June 1530, called man’s sinful condition “a disease or vice of origin.”
This refers to the biblical account of the disobedience of Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis, chapter 3, the result of which has infected every generation of people since.
This inherited condition is always a threat to the establishment of peace and freedom in our world.
Consequently, our world’s history has never lacked evil men and women rising to the forefront (convinced in their own depraved minds of personal good intentions) but whose actions only presented pain, suffering and indescribable terror and havoc.
Vladimir Putin is now taking center stage!
His appetite for power and dominating rule is uncontrolled.
Personally, I have compared him to a modern day Adolf Hitler.
However, like other tyrants and dictators who have preceded him, I am convinced that his rule of power is temporary in the greater scheme of things.
But while we yet witness the continuing state of war in Ukraine, it is very easy for many to feel discouraged and disheartened.
They may be asking themselves, “Where is God in this picture?”
The Christian community of the world will soon acknowledge the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
May that focus give the people of Ukraine and us hope and encouragement in the days and months ahead.
Initially, the early Christian disciples thought that once Jesus was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb, that was it.
Everything that Jesus taught them and revealed to them concerning the Kingdom of God and the goodness of life seemed to have vanished.
They never expected a resurrection from the dead and to carry on the ministry of the Gospel in his name.
One of my favorite Christian authors, Philip Yancey, has written:
“From below, we tend to think of miracle as an invasion, a breaking into the natural world with spectacular force, and we long for such signs. But from above from God’s point of view, the real miracle is one of transposition — that human bodies can become vessels filled with spirit, that ordinary human acts of charity and goodness can become nothing less than the incarnations of God on Earth.”
Therefore, I believe, God has provided the people of Ukraine a glimpse of his resurrection power in various ways.
One, through a leader who has displayed strength and courage in the midst of this crisis.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been compared to a modern day Winston Churchill as he in similar manner has inspired his people and military to stay strong and steadfast.
They are fighting a good fight against an unjust and unprincipled foe.
Secondly, I believe God’s resurrection power also is seen through the overwhelming and continuous display of charitable actions in support of the Ukrainian people from all parts of the world.
These acts of charity is how God’s spirit is at work, overcoming evil with good!
Lastly, I believe your continued prayers and support of the Ukrainian people is a sign of God’s resurrection power at work as well.
Simply put, we continue to do so because Jesus Christ rose from the dead for all of us as an insurance that better days will come.
Faith believes God will free the people of Ukraine from the tomb of war and destruction.
There is an old gospel saying that declares:
“God may not come when you want him to, but he is always on time!”
Keep praying and hoping, my friends!
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
— Romans 12:21
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels or principalities, nor powers, nor things pre us from the sent nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
— Romans 8:37-39
The Rev. Steve Nagler of Evans Mills is a chaplain at Cape Vincent Correctional Facility. An ordained minister with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, he previously served as a chaplain in U.S. Army from 1985 to 2005.