Updated: May 4, 2022
Today I was asked by the Pastor to offer a few words during the service today, just at the beginning of his sermon. Keep in mind the linguistic challenge here. Most Ukrainians, especially those from the western half of the country, speak Russian and Ukrainian. However, he preaches in Russian to accomodate those from the eastern half under siege who are less familiar with the Ukrainian language. There are a few Polish people coming in support of their [fill in the blank, perhaps their new new house guests, their new friends, their new tenants, or simply their newfound adopted brothers and sister in the faith]. These Poles only speak Polish, so the Pastor has a translator who translates for him into Polish. Now here I come, unable to speak any of the above and almost none of them speak English. So... I stood up and offered a short few words on WHY such calamity may allowed to take place. It was a direct and personal messsage meant for Ukrainians, so Ella, one of the few who speak English well, and a newfound sister, translated for me into the Ukrainian language. In short, the message was about how often times when afflicted, we struggle to see the purpose of it. But 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 offers us a reminder that is exceedingly relevant in the lives of Ukrainians (and many others, as well) today. It says:
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, SO THAT..."
Whenever we see those two little words 'so' and 'that' put together in this way, we have to pay careful attention to what follows.
SO THAT... "the life of Jesus may be manifested in us." These people are being dispersed, and they know it. They also understand their collective and individual duties to stand firm in their faith and to be a light in a dark place at a difficult time. Would you be able to do that? Would I? Perhaps, part of the reason for their dispersal is that WE might learn and be strengthened by the depth of their faith. Imagine stopping the chaos long enough to worship, praise and fellowship with others, before picking up your bag and continuing your confident odyssey into an uncertain future...