by Dale Reeves
We are now in week two of Vladimir Putin’s horrific invasion of Ukraine. As of yesterday, according to several reports, more than 2,870 Ukrainian soldiers and “nationalists” have been killed and about 3,700 wounded. The civilian death toll is approximately 2,000 so far. Ukraine’s presidential advisor claims that more than 9,000 Russian troops have been killed, though Russia says that it is a much lower number. Hundreds of Russian soldiers have been taken as prisoners of war. The United Nations says at least 870,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes and are refugees in western Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.
Putin and his forces are now being accused of war crimes by several countries. NATO nations have been supplying weapons and ammo to the Ukrainians who are fighting for their freedom in the streets and in all of their cities and towns. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that the first foreign fighters (some 16,000) have arrived in Ukraine to help defend their country against the Russian invasion.
Meanwhile, the value of the Russian ruble has hit record lows as numerous sanctions have crippled the Russian economy, forcing the country’s stock market to close. Thousands of courageous and emboldened Russians have protested the war on the streets of their country, and thousands have been arrested for speaking their voice. Yet, even as Russia suffers financially, Putin is continuing his onslaught on neighboring Ukraine because of surplus funds the nation has as one of the largest suppliers of energy in the world.
As I have been praying for God to intervene and protect the innocent, and for the conflict to come to a swift end, several times this past week God has reminded me of the Scripture that tells us the condition of the world before God sent a global flood in the days of Noah:
“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled” (Genesis 6:5, 6, NIV).
No doubt what God is witnessing in Eastern Europe these days is deeply troubling and heartbreaking. And, yet, we do not give up in prayer and intercession, looking for any glimmers of hope we can find.
ABC news reported last week a Russian soldier was overheard on a radio saying, “We don’t know who to shoot—they look like us!” That’s the point, isn’t it? We are all part of the human race, not meant to fight against one another, but to “live at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18).
But what are we to do as followers of God when such sinister evil presents itself like we have witnessed the past two weeks? We must view this just as we do spiritual darkness. There are spiritual forces of wickedness operating behind the personalities and ongoing acts of aggression. Let’s call it what it is! This war has come straight from the pit of Hell.
In 1863, after the fall of Vicksburg, American Civil War General William T. Sherman and his troops were crossing a bridge over the Pearl River at Jackson, Mississippi. As General Sherman watched the crossing from the water’s edge, he said to his passing troops,
“War is hell, boys!”
Jesus told us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (NIV). The thief is our enemy, the one who fights against the kingdom of God. The apostle John tells us in Revelation 12:9, 17, that the enemy is “The great dragon who was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. . . . he went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (NIV).
The aggressors in this war are doing just what Satan our enemy does. They have come to steal freedom. They have come to divide family members from one another. They have come to kill innocent people, old people, young people, men, women, and children. They have come to destroy towns, businesses, bridges, roads, universities, governments. They have come to destroy good and free lives.
Many people are asking, “How could this happen?” Because of the evil that exists in men’s minds, the evil that has been a part of Satan’s plan to thwart the kingdom of God.
Though evil is winning on many fronts in Ukraine and every other nation in our fallen world, be assured that God wins the war. Yes, many thousands of innocent lives are being cut short way too early because of this senseless act of aggression. Yes, families have been torn apart and will be grieving for many, many years to come. Life as they once knew it will never return to the way it was. And, yet, every day we hear stories of unbelievable courage and bravery. I know several friends that I met at TCM, one of our church’s mission partners that is headquartered in Austria, who are now working tirelessly to meet the needs of thousands of refugees who are flooding into Moldova and Romania every day.
There are many Christian organizations and humanitarian efforts that are working together as one to meet the great needs of thousands of homeless Ukrainians. May we continue to pray and give to the many efforts we are hearing about daily. People are being rescued in the midst of this appalling evil. And, because of the efforts of the rescuers, some will encounter a saving relationship with Jesus for the very first time. May we continue to seek God’s good in the midst of this Hell on earth. Prayer warriors, do not give up. Continue to pray against the evil, continue to intercede for the innocent lives in Ukraine and Russia. Our God will be victorious!