On Feb. 20, Russia launched an unprovoked war against Ukraine. As the tragic events unfold before our eyes, as we hear reports of attacks against civilians and millions being forced to flee their homeland, as we pray and seek ways to help the victims, it is natural to wonder about God’s position in relation to this and other atrocities.
People have long contemplated and debated the question of how a loving God allows evil to happen (the question of theodicy). Though God’s specific motive for acting or not acting in any given situation is beyond the human mind, Christians believe that God’s loving will has been revealed in the pages of the Bible.
When he walked the earth as a human being, Jesus spoke plainly about the future, and the picture he painted was ominous: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines, and earthquakes in various places.”(Matthew 24:7).
History has borne the truth of these words spoken 2,000 years ago. But Jesus didn’t leave his ancient hearers with a message of doom and gloom. He concluded by saying: “all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”(Matthew 24:8)
What birth was Jesus speaking of? Of course he was talking about the birth of the kingdom of God into the world, the day when the spiritual kingdom over which he now rules, as the risen and ascended Lord, will be established in its fullness as a visible kingdom on earth. On that day, suffering, and war, and death will be no more.
Those key words in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come,” pray for the dawn of that day. But as the last book of the bible, the Book of Revelation, testifies, that day will follow many trials and tribulations, pain and suffering.
In troubled times, those who claim Christ as Lord are called to live faithfully, trusting in God’s promise, living out their lives as witnesses to the peaceable kingdom of Christ. Answering that call is far from easy, but we are not left groping in the darkness.
The one who died and rose for the sake of a sin-sick, death filled suffering world comes to us through his word of promise, his sacraments, and his presence in community.
The peace of Christ be with you always.