Pain in Ukraine

Pastoral Messages | February 24, 2022

I grabbed my travel mug of fresh blend coffee this morning, climbed into my car with its heated driver’s seat, and left for work at a place I love. I nearly ran a couple of red lights, intent as I was on hearing the details of live reporting out of Kyiv, Ukraine. The chill of air raid sirens was in the background.

As we now know, hope for peace ended suddenly this morning for the Ukrainian people who woke up to the shock and fear of roaring military jets overhead and missile strikes in more than a dozen cities. People across that beautiful breadbasket of land began desperately packing their bags and filling their Jerry Cans with petrol, all for the sake of driving off to who-knows-where to stay with who-knows-whom to escape bombs of who-knows-why. It’s a sickening turn of events for 44 million people who don’t deserve anything close to a military invasion.

All that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky could do this week, knowing that Vladimir Putin wasn’t ready to listen to anybody, was to make an emotional appeal to the Russian people to ignore propaganda. “The Ukraine on your news and Ukraine in real life are two completely different countries,” he said. “And the main difference is ours is real. You are told that we are Nazis. How could a people that lost more than 8 million people in the fight against Nazism support Nazism? How could I be a Nazi?” asked Zelensky, who is Jewish. “What are you fighting for and with whom? You know our character. You know our people. You know our principles.”

It’s hard to fathom what can ever reach the heart of an autocrat. When there’s acid in the soul, urgent words of pain easily get ignored. We often speak of war as folly. But this unnecessary horror in Eastern Europe is grimmer than that. There is warring madness that is going to take out a lot of lives.

In my life, I regularly meet people who don’t follow world news because they say it’s too discouraging. But let me plead with you: Pay attention to the plight of the Ukrainian people and to this emerging crisis. Don’t tune in just because the price of gasoline for your household and mine is going to rise sharply. Tune in because innocent people whose lives quite closely resemble our own are suddenly suffering mightily.

Many of the church’s prayers for peace sometime strike me as too anemic. They may be well-worded for when the prospect of war looms as an idea, or when good people are eager to encourage diplomacy. But what prayer do we utter when tyranny has already unleashed its evil? Lines from Harry Emerson Fosdick’s great hymn text strike me as appropriate to the moment. I want them on my lips, and I’m imagining them in the hearts of all kinds of people in Ukraine right now.

God of grace and God of glory, on your people pour your pow’r … grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour, for the facing of this hour … Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore … grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days, for the living of these days.

-Peter W. Marty, senior pastor

23 Comments on “Pain in Ukraine”

  • Gina Bielski

    March 1, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you Pastor Marty. As always, your words provide comfort and guidance to us all.

  • Karen Dickman

    February 26, 2022 at 10:23 am

    Thank you, Peter, for putting into eloquent words what is weighing heavily on our hearts!

  • Renny Kidder

    February 25, 2022 at 2:16 pm

    Amen! and thank you! Yes, yes grant WISDOM, grant COURAGE, especially to leaders around the world, and us, for the facing of these days, for the LIVING of these days. I hope our churches sing this hymn,God of grace and God of glory, this weekend.

  • Jana Baltimore

    February 25, 2022 at 9:16 am

    Your message was powerful and so well written. Your words and the hymn were what I needed to read today after listening to the news about Ukraine. They Ukrainian people will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • John Horn

    February 25, 2022 at 12:35 am

    It’s entirely correct to pay attention to the plight of the Ukrainian people and to this emerging crisis. But the plight of us in America for which we need to seek divine help is much more than just rising gas prices. Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. top 100,0000 annually (CDC). Human trafficking, 18,000 victims trafficked into the U.S. annually (U.S. Dept. of State). 326,000 people experienced homelessness in 2021 (HUD). 2 million unauthorized migrants crossed the Mexican border into the U.S. — plus more not detected (U.S. Customs and Border Protection). Grant us wisdom and courage to face and confront these evils in our own country in a non-anemic manner.

  • Ann Abplanalp

    February 24, 2022 at 9:39 pm

    Peter, I reached out to my sister Mary Jarrett and her family today. She and her husband Michael began a Christian mission in Ukraine many years ago. They have since left to return back to the US, but have many dear friends there that they have been communicating with today especially…..the people there are pleading for prayers, as they watch this horrific event unfurling in their country. The true roots of their democracy are being unraveled by a power -hungry autocrat. We can never take our democracy for granted, nor our comfortable lives as people are being terrorized in this way. Stay informed, become educated by watching news based on facts. We pray for Ukraine the country, and the Ukrainian people.

  • Matt Dietsche

    February 24, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days.” Indeed. Thanks for helping many find peace in truth, Pastor Marty.

  • Mike Nitzel

    February 24, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you for your words, Peter. There but by the grace of God. We are all Ukraine today.

  • Scott Kelling

    February 24, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    All of history tells us that Putin- type aggressors will always be acting out their evil designs, and International Policy Studies have always focused on how best to defend against and contain them. While we focus on the horrific plight of the Ukrainian nation, the question should be asked of what brought the world to this juncture. And the answer to that is a demoralized and fractured Western international order precipitated by a pathetic American Executive Branch and Foreign Policy Establishment which just today stated that the Ukrainian future is tied to climate policy. How risible! For 70 years peace has been maintained by raw Western military power, intelligent diplomacy, and clear eyed geo-political understandings.
    The question is leadership and where in Washington do you find it.

    • Reid Schroeder

      February 28, 2022 at 10:20 pm

      Hunter Biden was the crack addled bagman for the Biden family criminal enterprise in the Ukraine for years, but at least he didn’t hold a bible awkwardly.

  • Marcia Willi

    February 24, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you for making us ” uncomfortable ” in our Christianess”. Sometimes we need that so we remember what is important. I am hoping that this makes sense? May God look out for all of his children in this time of evil.

  • Sheila Mesick

    February 24, 2022 at 5:32 pm

    Peter thank you for these words of caring, insight and inspiration, may they foster concern. I have watched MSNBC all day to keep informed. My hope is that people will not focus on rising gas prices and will be able to see the bigger picture. I think of families, elderly, children huddled in places to avoid bombing. Those who may need medications or insulin. Dear Lord may angels of mercy be present to care for those who need protection from this evil of war.

  • Jill Lindstrom

    February 24, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    Dear Paster Marty,
    Thank you for your words of compassion and encouragement. I join you in praying for the people of Ukraine. ❤️🙏❤️🙏

  • Audrey Keeney

    February 24, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    Thank you so much for this message you have sent us.

  • Jeanne Olsen

    February 24, 2022 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you, Peter. I keep and use that powerful prayer.

  • Barb Shinbori

    February 24, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    Very powerful words to think about and pray together for all these innocent people forced from their homes. God be with them all.

  • Lynnda Jankowski

    February 24, 2022 at 2:56 pm

    God bless you and keep you. 🙏❤️ I am so sorry you are going through this terror. Prayers are lifted for you and your beautiful country✝️🙏

  • Victoria Felger

    February 24, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    Pastor Marty, thank you for putting this pain into words and giving us the hymn text for words of courage and faith.

  • John Heath

    February 24, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    A profound commentary on these troubling world events. The convergence of so many ills at one time make Fosdick’s hymn speak loudly to me as I travel my daily uncertainties.

  • George Roland

    February 24, 2022 at 2:11 pm

    I am praying for the people of Ukraine as they pay the price for sharing a border with a powerful country run by a power hungry, evil man. What border next?

  • Renee Wade

    February 24, 2022 at 2:03 pm

    Perfect words for this time. Thank you Pastor Marty

  • kristine sherman

    February 24, 2022 at 2:03 pm

    This is a very urgent situation; thank you for writing about it, Pastor. And please, everyone, use reliable sources of information.

    • Mike Nitzel

      February 24, 2022 at 7:26 pm

      Thank you for your thoughts, Peter. There but by the grace of God. We are all Ukraine today.

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