A Wartime Promise

For seven days now the world has looked on with handwringing concern as an aggressor nation has invaded a neighboring country. It is our human (and Christian) tendency to identify the villain, take sides in the conflict and pray (usually) for the underdog. 

The stunning real-time coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the horrific footage of war’s exploding carnage, and the consequent flight of tens of thousands of wives, mothers, and children have tugged at all our hearts. Their bitter tears are soul-churning. Will these families be reunited?

But we do well to remember on the other side of the border are countless Russian mothers and wives somewhere worrying, somewhere praying for the deliverance of their boys (literally cadet youth pressed into service for the Motherland). Where is the heart of our maternal God in war between the children?

“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more” (Jeremiah 31:15).

“War is hell”—words originally attributed to Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman—remains undisputed. After only seven days of it who in Ukraine or Russia would disagree?

But we must be reminded—behind the miasma of human wartime suffering is a single dark mind. “Satan delights in war, for it excites the worst passions of the soul and then sweeps into eternity its victims steeped in vice and blood. It is his object to incite the nations to war against one another, for he can thus divert the minds of the people from the work of preparation to stand in the day of God” (Great Controversy 589).

Who is surprised at this prophetic disclosure? From the beginning, the evil genius of the fallen covering cherub—his first taste of human blood spilled from the battered Abel—has masterminded the deadly art of war in order to rush human beings into Christless graves. “And there was war in heaven” . . . and there is war on earth.

But in a war between Christian nations how does Heaven respond? How should we pray? Remember the truth about God: “The Lord is . . . not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV). Or as Eugene Peterson paraphrased it: “He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change” (Message).

The truth today is He is giving all of us—Russians, Ukrainians, Americans alike—“space and time to change.” This is why it is both right and essential for the friends of Jesus to cry out on behalf of any deadly war: “O Savior, hold back the winds of strife that all might yet come to know You.” Let every video clip of fighting become a call to seek the victims' salvation.

And if your heart is moved with the plight of the fleeing refugees, why not go to www.adra.org (Adventist Development Relief Agency) to make a donation to their refugee emergency interventions on both sides of the borders.

Because the good news for “Rachel weeping for her children” is this response from Heaven: “‘Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,' declares the Lord. 'They will return from the land of the enemy. . . . Your children will return to their own land’” (Jeremiah 31:16-17).

It may be a wartime promise fulfilled only in eternity—but it is still a promise we must claim for all.