Jesus once promised, ”In the world you will have trouble.” You can just look at the news coming out of Ukraine to see the truth of His Words spoken over two thousand years ago. Life is traumatizing, and evil men rule countries and governments. Nebuchadnezzar, Pilate, Caiaphas, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Osama Ben Laden, and now Vladimir Putin are to name a few. So what do we do with evil? How do we process it and how do we help those living the vile propensities of a madman? How do we walk alongside those who are navigating trauma and war? How do we help them escape?
We go back to the second part of Jesus’ promise in John 16:33, ”take heart I have overcome the world.” To some this might sound like a comforting quote, but it can’t come across as an empty promise. For those who believe, that promise must be life giving first to us and then to those who need to hear them.
“So they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us? ””
Luke 24:32 HCSB
God’s Word comforted two traumatized eye witnesses to the horror and brutality of the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus explaining scripture face to face set their hearts ablaze.
Go back with me over 2000 years ago. We come upon two companions walking a dusty Roman Road on a 7 mile trek from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. What they left behind in Jerusalem was painful to recall. They were deep in thought and conversation. Jesus had broke out of the tomb just a few short hours ago. He had appeared to several women and Peter and John. These two had heard of these appearances, but to them they were just part of the rumors swirling through that horrific weekend. The One they called Messiah, the Hope of Israel, the One who had come to deliver them from Roman oppression had been brutally murdered by this same Roman regime. Outside of Jerusalem above the trash heap, a place called Golgotha, soldiers had hung Jesus the Nazarene on a cursed cross. He died a gory death, and the last thing these two knew for certain, a man named Joseph of Arimethea had laid Jesus the Nazarene in Joseph’s own personal tomb.
They had expected the Roman government to be overthrown and ousted by now. They should be living a life free from fear of Roman tyranny. But – their Deliverer was dead. So they argued, they reasoned, and they tried to come up with some explanation to make sense of His death, but you just can’t make sense of evil.
The Emmaus disciples were hesitant to embrace Jesus’ resurrection. Their mental space was of despair, but Jesus’ appearance restored their hearts. God had been working in their hearts through Jesus’ teaching. God was healing them. His word is a miracle of the mind, heart, and soul.
I look at the last four words I just typed, ”God was healing them.” Only God can heal victims of war. Only God’s Word is life giving.
“From that moment many of His disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him. Therefore Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you? ” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God! ””
John 6:66-69 HCSB
I asked earlier, ”What do we do with evil?” You and I can’t end this war in Ukraine. We can’t stop the bombing of innocent children, but we can pray like King David.
“God, knock the teeth out of their mouths; Lord, tear out the young lions’ fangs. Then people will say, “Yes, there is a reward for the righteous! There is a God who judges on earth! ””
Psalms 58:6, 11 HCSB
“Rescue me, Lord, from evil men. Keep me safe from violent men who plan evil in their hearts. They stir up wars all day long. Protect me, Lord, from the clutches of the wicked. Keep me safe from violent men who plan to make me stumble. I say to the Lord, “You are my God.” Listen, Lord, to my cry for help. Lord God, my strong Savior, You shield my head on the day of battle. Lord, do not grant the desires of the wicked; do not let them achieve their goals. Otherwise, they will become proud. Selah When those who surround me rise up, may the trouble their lips cause overwhelm them. Let hot coals fall on them. Let them be thrown into the fire, into the abyss, never again to rise. I know that the Lord upholds the just cause of the poor, justice for the needy. Surely the righteous will praise Your name; the upright will live in Your presence.”
Psalms 140:1-2, 4, 6-10, 12-13 HCSB
Paul once wrote:
“For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed — beyond our strength — so that we even despaired of life. Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us. We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many.”
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 HCSB
My friend Samantha Lewis just got back from delivering 8 suitcases of medical supplies to soldiers in Ukraine. Her boyfriend is Ukrainian. His father and brother are still there. She says, ”Our trip showed us that every little bit helps and that no effort is too small.”
I think about her statement. What if even one small act of kindness can negate one cruel act?
We can’t end evil in this world, only God has the life giving path. All He asks of us is to join Him in His work. Every little bit helps.
Here’s a link to Samantha’s post on how to help.
I also like SamaritansPurse/Ukraine. And StJudes/Ukraine.
What do we do with evil? Pray – Only He can. Give – give Jesus’ Words of life to the traumatized. Give – every little bit helps.