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A familiar internal struggle rose up inside of me about a week ago when I was watching someone from BBC News interview an older woman in Ukraine. She was weeping, “We need God to help us.” I could tell she was sincere. Her words were not spoken in anger, she was expressing her feelings of desperation and abandonment. The same feelings many have experienced since the beginning of time.

How long, O Lord?

War is horrific and evil. It is hard, maybe even impossible, to speak words of comfort to people who are experiencing such senseless brutality. It is also hard to speak those words into our own souls as we sit and watch, helpless to do anything to stop it, and knowing there is someone who COULD but hasn’t . . . and may not.

I confess that I struggle deeply with these things. I find myself spiraling into despair when confronted with grief or suffering, even if, if not especially when, it is not even my own. I struggle to understand how a loving and gracious God allows suffering to dominate so many lives around the world.

How long, O Lord?

I sat on a chair today, staring into space, thinking about these things and prayed. I asked God to intervene in Ukraine. I asked him to work miracles in the midst of the madness, to do whatever he needs to do to let the people of Ukraine know that even if he doesn’t answer their biggest prayer (for Russia to stop their invasion) that he has not forgotten them. He sees their need, even it’s for water, heat, or a safe place to sleep.

Later on today, I bumped into a neighbor friend of mine who lost her young son to cancer last year. We chatted for just a few minutes but our conversation brought peace to my troubled heart. “He came to rescue us out of this {someday}—not from this.” she said. And that time has not yet come. Eternity.

Erik and I have a friend who fled Russia during the Soviet era. He always reminds us that suffering is not only part of being human, it’s an essential and promised part of the journey of faith/the faithful. The disciples expected to suffer. It was not a surprise to them. Jesus lived a life free from sin—but not free from sorrow. He was a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” “In this world you will have trouble,” he said. “But take heart, I have overcome the world.” God in the flesh did not escape suffering. Why should we expect anything different?

That said, while there is no limit to the suffering God allows there is also no limit to his mercy. He is “near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Life can be overwhelming and difficult, but we serve a God who is with us through it all.

In times of crises, when everything is going wrong, when you feel like you just can’t take another hit, remember this: he has promised to be with you and give you strength in the middle of it all.

When the news is overwhelming, whether international or personal (we just heard about a husband and father who received a stage four colon cancer diagnosis this week), take a moment, breathe in, and remember: this world is not our forever home. Someday, God will put an end to the madness, wipe away our tears and bring the final healing. But that time has not yet come.

How long, O Lord?

“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Psalm 94:19

“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah” Psalm 32:7

Peace be with you.

Stephanie Staples

Author Stephanie Staples

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  • Carol A Kenzy says:

    You put into words, Stephanie, what so many of us are feeling. But, God always has the last word. I heard a testimony recently of a 15-year-old artist who lost her eyesight. She wondered why God would give her such a gift, only to have it be taken away. Fast forward many years. She married, had children and now has grandchildren. She is also an evangelistic teacher and public speaker. Wow! Her eyes still do not see; yet, her artistic gifts still flow. On very hard days (when everything goes wrong), she reminds herself that “Life on earth is short; life is heaven is long!” That’s how she encourages herself.

    Your encouraging words encourage us to see our present circumstances in light of eternity. So much of what happens on earth makes no sense whatsoever. Keep praying and holding up Ukraine in prayer. In so doing, we are weapons against the enemy! Good word, from you, dear Stephanie!! Keep sharing your heart to encourage others facing similar trials.

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