June 1, 2022·Kim Cecil
On February 24, Russia invaded the nation of Ukraine. On February 27, just 72 short hours later, my family left our home in St. Petersburg, Russia and crossed into Estonia. We had served and ministered in Russia for 8.5 years, and it was the only home we knew. We passionately loved the people, our people, and we had poured out our lives to help build the Kingdom of God in the largest nation of the world. But an evil regime had chosen to begin an unjust war, and we no longer felt safe. We became displaced people: a family of four with only five suitcases of belongings, in shock, looking into the future that seemed dark beyond description. We were, and still remain, heartbroken for both Russia and Ukraine, praying without ceasing for our brothers and sisters enduring this horrible war.
“Oh God, how can this be happening?” was the question burning in our hearts day after day. The reports coming in from Ukraine caused us to weep, to rage, to grieve, and above all, to plead with God for mercy and justice. There were moments when the temptation to lose all hope and give in to the terror became very real. It was in those moments, however, that we learned to reach out to the Living God, the One who holds all things and all people in His hands, “He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do” (Psalm 33:15).
In the Pause devotional this week we read Psalm 33, which for us was like a balm of healing, a word in due season, and an answer for the burning questions. Maybe not the direct answer to “Why is this happening?” (which I doubt we can ever understand this side of eternity), but perhaps a better one in the end. We read in verses 10-11:
The Lord foils the plans of nations;
He thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of His heart through all generations.
Even now, when I read those words written thousands of years ago, tears come to my eyes, but hope floods my entire soul! This is the God we serve, the One who will foil evil plans that stand against His purposes, and thwart the enemy’s strategies! And when I speak of evil and the enemy, I am not talking about primarily human endeavors, but satanic. We know from Ephesians 6:12, and many other places in Scripture, the real evil we face is spiritual and, therefore, we use spiritual weapons.
In this season of desperation and grief, I have learned once again how important the weapons of the Word of God and praise and worship truly are. We see this woven into the psalm (vs. 1-2, 4, 6), and the psalmist seemed to truly understand that as we worship the Lord, we are able to see things from His eternal perspective. We are able to settle our hearts deeply once again in the promise of His unfailing love (vs. 4, 18). This week, I challenge you once again to “sing joyfully to the Lord” (v. 1), even in the midst of suffering and grief, knowing His purposes and promises will stand firm forever!
Pastor Kim Cecil, Foursquare Missionary