For more than a week, I’ve wanted to share about our weather extremes. I have daffodils blooming and my tulips and hyacinths are up several inches – good signs of spring. But for three weeks, we have experienced highs in the 60s for a day or so and then the temperatures would plummet. Ice and snow followed. Even two days after last week’s storm, ice covered more than half of the driveway and walkway to my front door. Again this week, our weather is shifting from beautiful to stormy. Although temperatures have not been in the balmy 60s or 70s as last week, we anticipate temperatures in the 50s tomorrow again. However, temperatures are forecast to plunge on Thursday night with a significant cold front, and our meteorologists predict snow.
I’m glad that God is certainly unlike our weather. At least 13 times, the Bible says that He never changes. (Three of the best known are Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6, and James 1:17.) We can depend on His Word, His promises, and His character.
With developments in Ukraine, our weather problems became insignificant. I have never traveled to Ukraine, but as I looked at the photos of the people, buildings, and streets and heard their accent as they spoke English, I was reminded of my time in Romania. I taught in two Bible schools there – twice in Timisoara and twice in Oradea. Of course, there are differences, but I see similarities. The Romanian Revolution began in Timisoara in 1989. The bullet holes in buildings in the city’s center were never patched so people would remember the price that was paid for freedom. Oradea, just eight miles from the Hungarian border, also has experienced the horrors of war and loss of freedom, especially in the Jewish areas during WWII when most of the 40,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz.
This is not the first time Ukrainians have fought for their freedom, and the tension between Russia and Ukraine has deep roots. After World War I, Ukraine endured brutal Soviet treatment. In 1921-22 and again in 1932-33, the Soviet Empire “engineered” two famines in Ukraine, which killed more than 8 million people. During World War II, nearly 8 million Ukrainians died in German/Soviet fighting. The Ukrainians have not forgotten and do not want to be under Soviet rule again.
This also is a religious battle. In 2018 and 2019, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church declared its independence from the Russian Orthodox Church, with its more traditional orthodox teachings, and aligned itself with Orthodox Church in Constantinople, which has more western leanings. Putin is determined to reunite the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches.
We live in uncertain, desperate, momentous times! God’s Word gives us insights into the challenges of today. Jesus said that “wars and rumors of wars” would mark The Last Days. “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:1-14). Luke records it this way: “When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away” Luke 21:9. We are truly experiencing the signs of The Last Days.
It’s easy to be terribly frightened when listening to the news and seeing the atrocities. We can’t help but think what if this were happening here. Our only hope is to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Prince of Peace and continue to pray for Ukraine, the surrounding nations, and the U.S.
Last Thursday night the Slavic churches in our area gathered with our church for a prayer service for Ukraine. It can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIUUwwhjVu0. And today we continue to pray: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew6:10).