According to the U.S. Department of Energy, one ton of natural uranium can produce more than 40 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. If I understand it correctly – and I freely admit that there are lots of folks around “Atomic City” who know a whole more about uranium than I – that is equivalent to burning 16,000 tons of coal or 80,000 barrels of oil. You may see where I’m going with my merging of words: the people of the Ukraine are shocking the world with their staying power! And that, friends, may just be the understatement of the year.
Ukraine’s major centers of population are still under attack. Russian forces are invading from at least three different directions. There are ground assaults and air assaults, as major damage is hurled upon buildings and property. Injuries and loss of life are mounting by the minute. By any standard of evaluation, things do not look good for the people of Ukraine, and yet the armed forces and the volunteer fighters seem to be coming together to mount a defense more formidable than that which anybody expected. Russia simply has not been able to conquer as quickly or as convincingly as Putin had planned.
It is the first war of conquest in Europe since 1938. While major media outlets are reporting that the next 24 hours could be the most crucial when it comes to measuring the strength of the resistance, we’ve seen the photos from Kyiv and other cities of Christians on their knees in the snow. That could be the reason why the nation hasn’t fallen already. As each day unfolds, I’m more and more persuaded that there’s no other explanation than God.
Here is the reality for the global community, if you’re interested in my opinion on the subject: these freedom fighters are our heroes! You see, Ukraine will not be enough for Vladimir Putin. He has threatened Finland and lashed out at the Baltic states. He apparently views his nuclear arsenal as appropriate weaponry, to be used anytime should he deem it necessary, against any country that supports Ukraine. He is a dangerous man. He is an autocrat on steroids. He is under the delusion that he can unilaterally rebuild the old Russian empire, and anyone standing in his way is fair game.
But that’s not all, friends, unfortunately. Don’t think for a minute that Xi Jinping isn’t all over this mess. He is watching to see what we do, and he is watching to see how the rest of the Western world responds to the crisis in Ukraine. He wants Taiwan. He wants India (at least parts of it). I think he wants total control of the South China Sea. It’s like one sibling waiting to see if another sibling gets by with a certain bad behavior, in the hopes that Sibling A can then launch into full-blown bad behavior because the obvious consequences seem minimal. But, at the level of Putin and Xi unhinged, it won’t feel like child’s play to anybody on earth.
You and I ought to be praying that the Lord would deliver Ukraine from evil. We know that’s how Jesus wants us to pray (Matthew 6:13). We need to pray for the churches and pastors in Ukraine. We should pray for all leaders in government and international diplomacy. We need to pray for soldiers and others fighting for the cause of human dignity and freedom. We ought to pray for all of those who will be displaced from their homes and from the only way of life they’ve ever known. We need to pray for those brave women and men who are standing up to Putin in his own country. As you well know, they have no First Amendment to protect them, but they – like the Ukrainians – are showing the world a bravery that is real and compelling in these tumultuous times.
“Let My people go” has more contemporary manifestations than we might have imagined. I believe, friends, that there exists a built-in, soul-level cry of the human heart to be free! I noticed this tweet posted Friday by a church planter in Ukraine (a church planter with no plans to leave, I might add): “There is only one true King – and the little tyrants of the world will ultimately only play into His great victory. His promises are sure, His victory inevitable.” I don’t know about you, but I can live with that.
And we must never forget that you and I are the real radicals. We’re the weird ones who pray for our enemies. We’re the strange ones who pray for those who persecute us. We’re the eternally hopeful ones who pray for those who seem to us so far from God – so lost – that they can never be found. We’re the ones who can never give up on the power of the gospel to change a life … a family … a nation … a world. It’s dark out there, Jesus – so please light our way!
Perhaps Pastor Sergey Zolotarevskiy, of Central Baptist Church in Moscow, said it best Sunday morning as he prayed on behalf of evangelical Christ-followers in Russia: “Bless restless nations, and send peace and repentance. We are asking for Your mercy upon all.”
Indeed, Lord Jesus, we are.