Thinking about Ukraine

It’s been a month since Russia invaded Ukraine. We hope and pray for the withdrawal of Russian forces and a peaceful resolution to this war, but to be honest, we don’t know how it will end. By now, the shock of this travesty may have faded, but fuelled by saturation media coverage, our anger remains. So how are we to think about this injustice?

Here are three thoughts.

First, realism. We’ve been conditioned to expect peace between countries. This is in part due to the unprecedented period of relative peace that our world has enjoyed in the past 70 years. But it’s also the optimism borne from the Enlightenment about the capacity of humans to advance and produce the ideal society using education, reason, and science. In 1937, the author H.G Wells said, “Can we doubt that presently our race will more than realise our boldest imaginations, that it will achieve unity and peace, and that our children will live in a world made more splendid and lovely than any palace or garden that we know, going from strength to strength in an ever-widening circle of achievement?”

Consider Wells’ lament after World War II: “The cold-blooded massacres of the defenceless, the return of deliberate and organised torture, mental torment, and fear to a world from which such things seemed well-nigh banished – has come near to breaking my spirit all together”. Wells lost his optimism about the human condition. The Bible is realistic about our nature: we are broken. Our brokenness is seen in crime and violence, injustice and war. Jesus said, “When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Mk 13:7). Unfortunately, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is another example of our brokenness.

Jesus promised to one day return and make all things new

Second, trust. We don’t know why God’s allowed this war to happen and these injustices to be perpetrated. We can’t always see how he’s at work for good. Job never got an answer for why he experienced suffering. Instead, he was given a reminder about God’s sovereignty, even over evil, and that was enough. So we trust that on the last day, God will have the final say. All evil will be brought to light and justice will be done.

Third, hope. Jesus promised to one day return and make all things new. The shroud that is over all humanity will be taken away. There will be no more brokenness or conflict, injustice or war. Through the cross and resurrection, Jesus has won the biggest battle against sin and death. Therefore, we anchor our hope in the return of our Lord Jesus, when we will see him face to face, and we’ll experience undiluted, unending joy.

So how do we respond in the meantime?

First, it’s right to be angry about injustice. We mustn’t be indifferent to evil and suffering in God’s world. However, we mustn’t let our anger lead to sin (Eph. 4:26). Instead, we use righteous anger to prompt righteous action.

Second, we pray. We continue to beseech God for peace, asking for protection for the innocent, provision for the refugee, comfort for the grieving, healing for the injured, and for justice to be done.

Third, we can give, seeking to use the means that God gives to us to provide practical care for the afflicted. Three excellent charities providing help to those affected in Ukraine are Tearfund, Hope International, and Crossroads Foundation. Please consider giving to their appeals.