This is a personal reflection in response to the war in Ukraine, written by Silvie who is from the Czech Republic. The photos are Silvie’s, taken during a visit to the Ukraine in 2011.
Tonight, I can’t go to sleep. I wouldn’t be able to. A maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed. I saw pictures of people and children who were being taken out after the bombing. A young boy was saying: ‘I am sad for my mum.’ And many more pictures of people deprived of everything, people fleeing, people wounded, people dying, and people crying. And I can’t stop crying myself. After two weeks of war, it looks as if there were absolutely no boundaries for this evil. All the suffering and killing that have happened so far haven’t been enough for someone to stop this war. It seems as if all justice was gone from the earth. It almost seems as if God didn’t exist or didn’t care. Almost. But I know the opposite is true. I know Jesus Crucified; I know Jesus my Beloved.
I glance at a photo on the wall, where my dad and I as a 10 years old are happy on holiday. And I am crying again. Thousands of children are living a different life from mine when I was little. My parents were divorced, and my mum didn’t have much money, but I lived in a post-communist country with newly gained freedom, and new hope, I lived in safety, I had everything I needed, I lived in peace! That won’t be a reality for so many now. And this is happening so close to us! They are people like me, like my family, like my friends, like you. I now repent from a hard heart which didn’t let me see how much suffering there already was in the world before this war. I knew it, but it somehow wasn’t close enough. This is different.
And so, I just can’t stop thinking about Ukraine. None of us can. We talk about it, we pray, we pray more, we pray silently, we pray out loud and together, we send financial and other material help. But what more can we do? What can I do right now and in the days, weeks, months coming up?
I believe that Jesus wants me to start small. In my own heart. He wants me to do away with the inner war there, with all the things that are proud and selfish, and in their result violent. He wants me to make peace with my brothers and sisters around me, every day, again and again. And then, however unbelievable that might seem, I will influence the world, not because of me, but because of Him and His victory. It is like a little offering of peace – peace bought by a sacrifice (mine is a little one, because every such dying to self hurts a bit, but Jesus’ is the One).
But this is not where I should stop. There is so little I can do, but there is always more than what I am doing right now. I know that I need to edge out of my comfort zone a little bit more every day. I need to extend my tent pegs little by little – always extend never cut back.
And the extending of my tent pegs might be also more literal. There might be people coming soon, who will be invited to share our home with us. Oh, how I hope there will be! It would mean a little comfort in this terrible time, to be able to embrace at least one of the suffering ones. Any of them. And as many of them as we can. And I am almost strangely excited about this. Although my heart is broken and breaks every day again and again with more news of violence and evil, at the same time, I am beginning to love those whom I don’t know yet, but who will come to us – I know that they will be a blessing.
In the meantime, there is so much more tangible help I can offer. I need to pray with the others. Every such time, we, together, enter the battle which belongs to the Lord. We are together and we are with Him. All over the world there are His people who are praying. I don’t carry the whole load of this particular huge and heavy intention on my weak intercessory shoulders, I am only one of God’s big army.
This Scripture reminded itself to me a few days ago:
‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of TRUTH buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS in place, and with your feet fitted with the READINESS that comes from the GOSPEL OF PEACE. In addition to all this, take up the shield of FAITH, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of SALVATION and the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD OF GOD.
(Ephesians 6, 10-17)
These devil’s schemes are taking place right now. The evil has sprawled out of its lair, and obscenely uncovered itself. It is not in hiding anymore – it’s so evident, so manifest, that we can’t believe our eyes. But THIS is what is also happening: God’s Kingdom is becoming more evident, more manifest. It is closer. I can’t see it with my eyes, but I believe it and declare it. The beauty and wisdom of God is around me; it is prevalent, it is stronger that the darkness. There is more of goodness than of evil. And that is part of the armour of God that I need to be putting on every day – the truth that He is good and beautiful, the truth of our salvation, the word of God that speaks of His love for us, and the Gospel of peace which gives my life its direction, purpose, joy and passion to carry on.
I suppose that there still is many bad things coming our way, but I know that there is so much more goodness than evil, and I know that we have a lot to look forward to in this life and after!
Silvie Jelinkova, March 9th 2022