Every day I trust the walls and roof of my house to remain stable, the roads on which I drive to remain solid. But those remaining in Ukraine now know the opposite; the constant sound of bombs and the experience of crumbling walls, falling roofs, and impassible roads … if those who stayed even have access to transportation. Everything is shifting and unstable.
As Dennis and I watch the constant reporting every night we are praying daily and often for the believers—for their protection, for God’s provision for their needs, for power and strength. We also pray for those who don’t know Jesus as Savior … that they would meet Him and respond in faith.
And as we watch and feel from afar we wonder: What will tomorrow bring? How will life change, both in Ukraine and around the world. And we wonder about the unthinkable … could this lead to a nuclear confrontation? No one knows what Putin will do next. As Peggy Noonan wrote in The Wall Street Journal on February 26, “Putin has shocked the West. He wanted to shock the West.”
How do we respond to this shock, this unnerving and unraveling of all we depend on for stability and peace?
As I’ve written many times before the sure word of God says,
“And He shall be the stability of our times” Isaiah 33:6
Life-changing events have been happening with increasing regularity and intensity. The first time I wrote about this verse was in 2008 when our country was in the throes of a significant economic downturn. Since then we’ve known more school shootings, political turmoil, growing racial unrest, a worldwide pandemic, rising crime, and now a war. An unprovoked invasion displacing millions of people and destroying everything within the reach of bombs is uncharted territory for all of us born since World War II.
As believers in Christ we also have to ask, is this another step on the sure path to the return of Christ? The answer is decisively yes. Yes, we are closer. Yes, this figures in to the grand narrative God is authoring and orchestrating. Everything God does is a part of His grand plan. He is sovereign. He is always working toward His grand finale. And He did say there would be wars and rumors of wars.
Just one verse among many speaks to this: “… according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9).
But until that day, which could be very near or yet in the distance, the words from Isaiah 33:6 remind me, over and over, to ask myself, Is my security and stability resting too heavily on my circumstances? Am I trusting in God today? And am I living not just for myself and my own people but am I giving my life for others?
How then shall we live?
First, as much as possible keep up with what God is doing in Ukraine and in surrounding countries … His deeds and wonders that are rarely told on regular news channels.
A friend of mine who was a missionary to Ukraine years ago still has friends there. She heard last week of other missionaries from America, living in Ukraine who have decided to stay because they believe this verse is true: “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8, NASB). This world is not our home and it was so encouraging to hear of these believers living it as fact.
They also told about many people coming to Christ in the weeks preceding the invasion. Evidence God is going ahead since He was not surprised by this war. And from Israel we just heard this week that many thousands escaping Ukraine are ultimately headed for Israel. God continues to gather His people! Exciting? Yes!
Second, it’s important to support—with prayers and financial donations—the relief efforts for Ukrainians. Between the people struggling inside Ukrainian and those who have fled to neighboring countries, this may be the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.
Yet, sadly, there is so much hardship and pain you or I cannot change or fix in this world. That will always be true. And so the rock of Christ, the anchor of my soul, must be my sure hope and my stability, not the predictable norms I long to cherish. The eternal truth that God is sovereign is either true or it is not. I’m counting on its veracity because He brings more peace than any treaty or alliance of men possibly could.
I am reminded of the classic hymn by Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Normally I wouldn’t use this space to include the words of an entire hymn, but I believe it’s worth it. Read these four verses and see how they build on each other to praise the God whose kingdom is forever. (And if you want to sing it, here’s a great video on YouTube by Matt Boswell.)
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe, does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing.
You ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same;
and He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God has willed, His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure, for lo! his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
That Word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours, through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
the body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever!
These words were written nearly 500 years ago, yet they apply to our circumstances just as much as they did to Martin Luther as he lived his life with many threats of imprisonment and death during the years of the Reformation.
Whether this present instability is our new normal or not is irrelevant. What really matters is where I’m placing my hope.
Only Jesus can give the peace and the stability I desire. Only He can give what we long for in our hearts.
I pray that we will make the transcendent truth of God and His Word more a part of our conversations so we can together rest on His stability, and so that others may know of this hope. No matter what happens, we can rest on God’s promises.
Centuries-old trees, like sequoias and oaks, endure through drought and storms because when conditions are good they eagerly soak up nourishment and sink their roots deeper to prepare for the hard times that always come.
Will you sink your roots into the Rock of Christ so you will be prepared when hard times come?
Will you invite God, our mighty fortress, to be the stability of your life, no matter what may come?
In our Etsy store we offer a digital download of our popular rendering of Isaiah 33:6: “And He shall be the stability of our times.” It’s perfect for framing and displaying in your home.