We try not to think of what is happening in the Ukraine, but we can’t help ourselves. It is in our consciousness, and in our subconscious as well. We feel an overwhelming, underlying sense of sadness for those suffering. We fight to not think about it, for if we did so as much as we are drawn to, we would be overwhelmed and in a constant state of prayer. Not that that is a bad thing but we are in this life called and pulled in many directions with responsibilities not only to ourselves, but also, for others. How can we feel happiness when so many are suffering? How can we worry about being late to work when people are being killed in the streets? So we work to integrate these battling emotions in our daily lives.
Processing the situation in the Ukraine is not just about how to integrate such atrocities with everyday living. It seems a more personal experience for many of us who perhaps have not felt so close to war crimes before this Russian invasion of the Ukraine. We may have relatives who died in the Holocaust, and of course have read of such horror in other countries. We have felt the pain of these terrible episodes in modern history and read of them over the centuries.
Yet this invasion feels very close to home for it is ongoing, daily reported, each day revealing more unimaginable tragedies, unfolding in great detail in real time, and involving a major power with whom we have a significant diplomatic relationship. It is also an event with a global battlefield in the sense of the responses to this unprovoked attack affecting multiple countries and at least for that part, reflecting some good in this whole story.
War crimes? Genocide? Surely so in my opinion, yet courts and history will take years to determine. One label I think is indisputable – pure evil. As the weeks have progressed, as the lies have been revealed, as the weeks ahead may further prove, these actions can only come from a dark spiritual place.
How does this happen? Sadly, evil does not just work its will at obvious times such as the Russian invasion. That atrocity is the end result of much evil planning at the highest levels of leadership over time within a powerful nation. Yet the seeds of that evil no doubt were planted decades ago in the lives responsible for the war.
In my life now there is a person who is an unbelievable gossip. She sits outside her home, “holds court” daily with others similarly so inclined. This is how they pass their days. As I walk by I hear snippets of the topics – Did you hear so-and-so did such and such? So-and-so seems on edge lately? Wonder what he’s like to live with? Have you noticed blah, blah, blah . . .
I got pulled into her web recently when a misunderstanding occurred which I had to clarify. As I took the high ground and tried to talk with her in positive ways, I was amazed at her skill of deflection, lack of taking responsibility, twisting of words, actual lies. I could tell my words fell on deaf ears, and was immensely grateful this woman is not in my life, nor are her minions.
You may ask how I can compare gossip to the war in the Ukraine. The answer is we live our lives battling the evil influences we encounter daily. How we handle these situations molds us into the people we become. Gossip today, unkind and unloving behavior, dismissiveness of others grows into greed, corruption, abuse of power, and worse as lives are lived.
Evil is a real spiritual reality against which we literally pray every morning at Shachrit and daily. We have choices in our lives to listen to wrong influences, which during times of vulnerability – depression, fear, loss, sadness, temptation – can sound reasonable. Those are the times more than ever that prayer, Scripture, and community help us put on our Armor of God. When we do so, we see evil for what it is. And evil stops messing with us too!
In these days, perhaps the Ukrainian travesty may motivate us to redouble our efforts to walk in the ways of Yeshua. Putin didn’t start out as he is today. His life, his life choices, his lack of a relationship with God (on his side), his vulnerability to evil have made him who he is. He serves as a reminder to not be lax in our daily disciplines to put HaShem first, not just in words and actions, not just to serve Him, but to save our very souls.
Pray for our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine.