Hope in adversity
"Praise be to the LORD, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege." Psalm 31.21
I wonder what this verse means to the residents of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv and Mariupol? Nothing at all to some, perhaps, but for others there will be an awareness of Immanuel (God's presence) fortifying their resolve, comforting them in their loss, fear, despair. For some these mercies will come directly into their hearts or in the form of miraculous deliverance, for others it will be through acts of human kindness or a message of encouragement.
In the Psalm, David expresses his appreciation for God's deliverance from a situation where his back is to the wall and he is at the mercy of his enemies. We are spared the details but one thing is clear, God is preserving the life of his faithful servant because he has other work for him to do. Experience teaches that we cannot rely on deliverance from every situation. Yet not because God's power is limited, nor his willingness to exercise that power; rather it is because our time is up and our purpose is fulfilled. Only God knows then that is but, until then, the statement attributed to John Wesley holds true: "I am immortal until my work on earth is done."
Only those who have experienced similar can imagine what the residents of Ukranian towns and citizens are suffering at this time. But we do what we can in terms of volunteering, sending gifts in cash and kind and upholding everyone involved in our prayers. Perhaps we need to pray, above all, that God would show mercy to Vladimir Putin in the hole which he has dug for himself, by turning his heart to stop the war, recall his troops, fund Ukraine's reconstruction and restore Russia's dignity by taking responsibility for his actions and standing trial for his crimes.
All of the above is uttered in humility and hope: the humility of being a hell-deserving sinner myself and the hope I have of God's mercy and forgiveness, through no merit of my own but on account of my Lord and Saviour, who suffered on the cross and gave his perfect life as a ransom for my sins and for the sins of the world. Jesus brings hope into the bleakest situations. Praise God that we can depend on that hope and that it is as adequate as it is available - to meet every eventuality.