Reflections on the last two years could fill up a book similar to the Old Testament book of Lamentations.
Jocelyn and I went on a five km walk on a sunny Saturday morning. As we walked we tried to imagine what it must be like for a Ukrainian mother and her children. Our grandkids are the ages of these children. They are escaping an invasion. Walking with all they could carry in a suitcase or backpack in the cold of winter. Mile after mile, tears after tears. Where do they sleep? What do they eat? Where do they go to the washroom? They walk along with thousands of others on the road to the unknown. Some wear masks because of COVID-19 but their masks are no protection against despair.
Two and a half million. That’s the number of Ukrainians turned into refugees in just two weeks since Russia invaded their country.
Six million. That’s how many people died from COVID-19 over the last two years.
Our world is reeling from a once-in-a-century pandemic followed by a humanitarian crisis and the threat of WW III. In less than three weeks major Ukrainian cities were emptied of inhabitants and filled with terror and destruction.
The death toll in Ukraine and worldwide from opioid overdoses, suicide, or those who lost their marriage, or employment, or friends, or their mental health is astronomical.
2500 years ago a Jewish prophet, Jeremiah, wrote The Book of Lamentations about the destruction of Jerusalem. His words, “I am the one who has seen affliction” (Lamentations 3:1) are an echo of suffering we hear from around the globe.
We responded to the pandemic with the production and delivery of a vaccine that a portion of the population did not trust. Some said the vaccine couldn’t be trusted because the process was rushed, the testing wasn’t rigorous enough.
The last 24 months magnified division, amplified anxiety, and fostered destructive disinformation. Social media is rife with conspiracy theories about “The Great Reset” and a “New World Order.”
In a single week, as protesters descended on Ottawa and tensions around the country ran high, we saw a fake death by horse-trampling, a fake Governor General registry of 3.5 per cent of Canadians to secure a vote of no confidence, a fake frozen bank account, and a fake UN reinforcements story because a plane was getting maintenance in North Bay.
As you read this you may think, “I thought those were true.” Who can you trust for information?
Can I even trust you, Bob?
Church world is where I work and live. Even as restrictions lift and congregations regather there is lament over what was and what is. Attendance, volunteer numbers, and revenues are down. Conflict and division are up.
Because we are creatures of comfort the temptation is to return to what is familiar. To go back to church world of March 2020. But what if the familiar was broken and we didn’t see it? What if this present darkness can remind us that Jesus is the light of the world and will lead us forward on a better path?
The best decision you will ever make is to follow Jesus. We’re following a reading plan that helps us hear Jesus every day through the Bible. Its called “Journey to the Cross.” 40 days of reading that leads up to Easter. We invite you to read along with us. Follow this link.
Our friends in Slovakia, Ukraine and Poland are doing what they can to house and help refugees. There will be opportunity to offer help here in Alberta. We invite you to join us in praying for Ukraine and giving to help children through Emergency Relief and Development Overseas. (ERDO)
Lament and Worship
Lament is not void of worship or gratitude. Jeremiah’s testimony of God’s sovereignty and love is his act of defiance in the face of suffering.
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:23
Jeremiah’s lamentation was an expression of trust in God. Lament is the path to a sacrifice of worship. Humility before God in the face of suffering will create an unexpected lift for your soul.
My prayers are for the mothers and their children on the road of lamentations.
Please share your thoughts below. Thank you.
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