I recently wrote about God’s love for his children even in the midst of their suffering, and I still believe it is true. But it was only a sliver of biblical truth regarding suffering. In the face of great suffering, the first thing to say may be nothing at all.
I know that all the darkness in the world cannot overcome the light (John 1:5). I know that Jesus has overcome, and therefore so will his children (John 16:33; 1 John 4:4). I know that God has ordained all that comes to pass, and he has a good purpose for everything he has ordained Rom. 8:28-29). I know that justice is coming as sure as the dawn (Zeph. 3:5). I know all this because the Bible tells me so. By God’s merciful grace, I believe it.
But, O Lord, it is so hard to see it right now.
The news coming out of Ukraine is so dark. So very dark. Unspeakable atrocities are being spoken on the News, printed in our headlines, and shown in horrifying detail. If our generation ever doubted that evil is real, all doubts can be laid to rest.
What we are hearing and seeing in the aftermath of the Russian Army is the stuff of nightmares past. We learned about this kind of horror in History class—atrocities discovered after the fact from Regimes operating under cover of the delay of information. There was no 24-hour News cycle or livestreaming, no way to know for weeks or years what had happened during war or crackdowns on weaker populations. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot had some reasonable expectation that they could hide their crimes. But Putin has no such expectation. The horrors committed now in Ukraine are being done, in large part, before the eyes of the watching world.
Words fail. . .
As a Christian I know that God will repay the evildoers for their wickedness. But, O Lord, how long?
I believe those precious words in Revelation when Jesus promises that he is coming soon, and I echo John’s cry, “Come Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). The writer of Hebrews tells us we need endurance “so that when [we] have done the will of God [we] may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay. . . “(Heb. 10:36–37).
Lord Jesus, it feels like a delay.
Endurance is hard, so hard sometimes. And I’m sitting here only watching the News. I’m not recognizing the name of loved ones among the rosters of the murdered.
There are so many promises in Scripture that the Lord will rescue and redeem his people; he will swallow up death forever and wipe away the tears from their faces (Is. 25:8; Rev. 21:4). I believe these, every one of them. Yet it feels wrong somehow, to jump straight to these promises in the midst of this. I know they are there and trust they are true. But right now, as our brothers and sisters in Ukraine are wailing for their dead I must weep. So I will keep the promises as a blanket wrapped around my shoulders, while I sit in the dust and cry with Isaiah:
“Turn away from me;
let me weep bitterly.
Do not try to console me
over the destruction of my people.” —Isaiah 22:4
After all, before he raised Lazarus from the grave, Jesus also wept (John 11:35).