Pause for thought: How do we as Christians respond to the suffering of Ukraine?
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25.40, NIV)
The last month has brought something many of thought we would never see in our own life times – war in Europe. Some of my friends have been so mesmerized by events that they watch the news coverage unceasingly, others are so traumatized by the horror of it all that they cannot turn off their televisions. For most of us the response is somewhere in between – a sense of shock and horror at the unfolding events, while trying not to overload ourselves with the overwhelming trauma of what is happening. Yet, what is the correct Christian response to these events? That is not an easy question to answer. Some who are not people of faith, are led to ask where is God in all of this? Or how can a good God allow this to happen? There are of course no easy answers to those searching questions. Yet as we approach Easter, I believe at least a partial answer can be found in the cross, in the love of the crucified Christ. We do not believe in a God who is absent from suffering and pain. Through his death on the cross Christ suffers alongside and with people in all places at all times. This Jesus is the one who pronounces blessings upon the poor, those that hunger and thirst, upon the suffering, and for peacemakers.
However, this leaves us questioning what we can do in his name to bring peace on earth and goodwill among all his people. While individually we may not be able to stop this war against innocent people, we can help them in their time of need. Some are already opening their homes, providing material or monetary support, or responding with other acts of generosity. Alongside these practical measures, as people of faith we have other gifts we can offer. Many have already engaged in sustained prayer for Ukraine – interceding for the suffering, the broken, and the dying. Alongside this prayer ministry, we can also engage in our prophetic vocation to call out evil wherever it is found. To respond with a strong love that will not tolerate evil, oppression, or violence, knowing that the current events grieve God’s divine heart of love.
It is when we commit ourselves unflinchingly to establishing that reign of justice for all the peoples of the world that the king of love will tell us that we did not undertake those action just for our fellow human beings, but also for him who by his cross stands in constant solidarity with the suffering and the dying, now and always.
Tutor in New Testament