Running for Their Lives

(Originally published, March 21, 2022) 

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” – G.K. Chesterton
The necessity of war when forced upon us is no less tragic, no more humane, no less destructive than if it were fought at our own initiative. Even war ennobled by the purist of motives, the right to live in freedom and security, still wounds and maims and kills. Still, the innocent are victimized. The young and the old are not exempt. Those who are helpless and hiding cannot escape the carnage. War is all-consuming in its bloodlust. 
I have tried to imagine what life is like for my many friends in Ukraine, running for their lives as refugees, taking up weapons as soldiers, saying goodbye to a husband or wife, kissing little sons and daughters and sending them away, God knows where. I think of so many huddling together in subway tunnels and bombed out buildings. I think of their churches, tiny bands of believers, moving among the rubble, offering whatever help and hope can be found. I think of people praying, crying out in the night beyond any prayers I have ever prayed. I think of the agonizing grief of lost loved ones hurriedly laid to rest in mass graves without words, without a single flower to mark their passing.
Peace has become a precious word these past few weeks, an ideal so easily taken for granted, so commonplace in our part of the world. I pray for peace, for the names and faces so fresh in my mind, for the beautiful country my friends call home. How long can this go on? How long can this be allowed to continue? How long, O Lord?
“How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
(Psalm 82:2-4 NIV)
Let us be faithful to pray and give as we are able in support of our mission partners in L’viv and the good people of Ukraine.


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