My eyes welled up as I read about a mother placing her 11-year old son on a train to travel 700 miles to safety.
There are many aspects of this mother’s story I simply can’t relate to, like being in the middle of a war zone as another country invades my town. But I can imagine how heart wrenching this decision was for her. As a mother of two boys, I couldn’t help but see my own sons. Would I be strong enough to let my Silas and Titus travel 700 miles to another country knowing it was their only chance to survive? The mere thought of letting them go feels as if my heart is being ripped out of my chest.
I’m sure this mother would welcome and even cherish the daily challenges of reminding her son to put his clothes in the hamper or to get his shoes off the couch, if that meant never being faced with this very moment. She had no assurance of ever seeing her son again. She didn’t know if he would even make it all the way to where he was headed or if he would be cared for once he arrived.
I’m sure she held him tighter doubting if she was making the right decision as the sound of Russian bombs filled the air.
Many mothers and fathers in Ukraine are being faced with similar choices. They are fighting for their lives. They are making hard, scary, and desperate decisions to do whatever they can to let their children see another day. Families are leaving everything they’ve ever known with only the clothes on their back and the hopes of finding sanctuary in another country.
I find it so challenging to fully grasp the situation of two million people crossing Ukraine’s neighboring borders for the hope of survival. The number seems too massive, but then I read about fellow mothers fighting for the lives of their children. And the drive to do whatever it takes for the sake of the life of your kids, that, I can understand. It also makes me well up with anger that any parent or child is being faced with making these kinds of decisions.
Someone told me this geo-political move for Russia has been a long time coming, but all I can see are parents gripping their children and running for their lives. This is not the way our world is supposed to be. Our souls know this. And yet our world has only ever known war. One country invading another country isn’t an unfamiliar concept. Injustice in situations big and small have plagued the history of humanity. So why does it still bother us?
Injustice of any kind should not sit well in our souls. We must resist the temptation to see the displacement and abuse of people as normal.
Scripture actually tells us how we should view and react to injustices of any kind.
Passionate Grief and Sorrow
Our hearts should ache when we hear about others being treated unfairly and even brutally at the hands of another.
The Book of Psalms is the largest book in the bible, and 40 percent of it is filled with songs of lament. These psalms are filled with pain, anguish, and sorrow at the situations surrounding the authors.
The Lord is a God who avenges.
O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, Lord, will the wicked,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?
(Psalm 94: 1-3)
This lament psalm is raw, passionate, and filled with righteous anger against injustice. This makes many Christians uncomfortable, because we’re taught to pray for peace. We don’t want to pray for God’s vengeance or judgment on anyone. Tension exists between the prayers of this psalmist and the understanding that God is love.
But in these types of psalms, we are encouraged to sit with the pain, sorrow, brokenness, and injustice of our world. We are quick to pray, “Lord come quickly” when we hear stories of mother’s being forced to leave their children. This prayer allows us to disconnect from the stories of others and ask God to remove us from the weight of the world.
But when we look at Scripture, that’s actually the opposite of what Jesus did. He didn’t save us from a distance. He became like us in every way possible. God put on flesh. He became a baby who had to grow and journey through the common human experience. He stepped into the hurt and pain and made salvation possible.
As hard as it is, we have to lean into the pains and hurts of others. We need to lament with those suffering injustice. We should lament individually and corporately for the mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters enduring some of the most unimaginable injustices.
Our laments are not sulking or even despair. They are an opportunity to empathize with the pains of others and bring it before God. They are part of the journey to reconcile the world back to God.
Giving of Your Own Resources to Combat Injustice
I can point to many verses about how telling our use of money is to our hearts. It’s no secret Christians are called to give of their own resources for the goodness and well being of others.
Our hearts should not only be filled with sorrow or righteous anger about the sufferings of others, but our pocket books should be moved too. To say you’re brokenhearted about a situation and have the opportunity to give financially to help in even a small way, but choose not to, speaks to an even bigger matter of your heart. We can’t let our mouths speak of the matters of our heart without being willing to sacrifice our worldly possessions for the benefit of others.
The amount you’re able to give to support those in need is not the matter of ultimate importance. What matters is your heart and finances aligning with the fundamental aspects of the Christian faith—loving others. In situations like the war raging in Ukraine, there are many people who are in need of basic items like clothes, food, water, and a roof to sleep under.
I understand one person is not able to give to every need in the world. But we can adopt the posture of giving generously as often as we can. We must be willing to give of our own treasures. This is what the kingdom of God is about. The world should not be better at giving generously than the body of Christ.
I will pray for you.
This is common to the Christian vernacular. It’s as common as someone asking someone “How are you,” even though you have no interest in knowing how they’re really doing. Asking the question is just a matter of common courtesy.
Promises of prayer have become very similar among Christians.
I truly think most of us have every intention to pray for others. There are practical reasons, like we honestly just forgot. Other reasons take more out of us, like the weight of the prayer request or not knowing how to pray.
I’ve felt the weight of having no idea where to begin for a prayer as large as the war and injustice taking place in Ukraine. My prayers feel so helpless. Of course, I know that’s not true. I’ve now started to pray for the mothers similar to the one I read about, who are being separated from their children.
Imagine how our own faith would change if we would actually pray with intentionality for others. Prayer is our most powerful weapon and it’s also the most underutilized.
To be aware of injustice and to simply do nothing is not the Christian way. We are by no means helpless to the fallenness of our world. We are the most equipped and empowered community of people to care for the needs of others. The question is whether or not we will allow the Holy Spirit to work through us.