President Biden will mark the one-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with three global summits in Europe today. At one of these events, he will address an emergency NATO summit at which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will also speak.
Meanwhile, a “face” of the crisis in Ukraine is back in the news.
Two weeks ago, I profiled a seven-year-old Ukrainian girl who beautifully sang “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen in a Kyiv bomb shelter. The girl, Amelia Anisovych, is now one of the 3.5 million Ukrainians who have become refugees since Russia invaded their country. More than two million of them have fled to Poland, where Amelia is now with her mother and grandmother.
Last Sunday, she sang the Ukrainian national anthem in a Polish arena. Tickets for the arena’s ten thousand seats sold out, and the event raised over $380,000 for a humanitarian group serving Ukrainian refugees at the Polish border.
From a gifted young girl to an acclaimed senior adult: the death of eighty-four-year-old Madeleine Albright is also leading the news. Her story was remarkable as well: born in Prague, her family fled to London when Germany occupied Czechoslovakia. She earned a doctorate from Columbia, became fluent or close to it in six languages, and served as America’s first female Secretary of State.
Proposed bill decriminalizes killing newborn babies
Encouragement and inspiration are vital gifts in these challenging days.
According to a new report profiled in the New York Times, alcohol-related deaths in the US rose 25 percent from 2019 to 2020 and outnumbered COVID-19 deaths among adults younger than sixty-five. Drug overdose deaths also increased by 30 percent during the first year of the pandemic, reaching record levels.
From “deaths of despair” to a culture in disarray: A Yale professor is warning that law schools are in crisis after students disrupted a free speech panel. The University of Virginia’s student newspaper opposed a campus visit from Mike Pence, claiming that the former vice president’s beliefs threaten “the well-being and safety of students.” Miami Beach declared a state of emergency this week after a pair of weekend shootings, part of a surge in such violence across the country.
And a proposed bill in California would codify the killing of unborn children throughout all nine months of pregnancy and would decriminalize killing newborns even after their birth. It shields a mother from civil and criminal charges for any “actions and omissions” related to her pregnancy “including miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, or perinatal death.” “Perinatal death” includes the death of a child up to seven completed days after its birth.
“The telegraphic wire which links earth and heaven”
This week, we’ve been focusing on ways we can redeem the crises of these days by meeting needs with courageous compassion. Today, let’s explore the faith it takes to make a difference in discouraging times.
One of my mentors, John Edmund Haggai, often encouraged those he led to “attempt something for God so great it is doomed to failure unless God be in it.” Seeking a moral reformation in a culture that has abandoned biblical morality certainly qualifies.
The good news is that, no matter how discouraged we become, the amount of our faith is less important than its object. Charles Spurgeon observed: “Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth and heaven—on which God’s messages of love fly so fast, that before we call he answers, and while we are yet speaking he hears us.”
He added: “Faith clothes me with the power of God. Faith engages on my side the omnipotence of Jehovah. Faith ensures every attribute of God in my defense. It helps me to defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march triumphant over the necks of my enemies.”
A leap into the light
Our skeptical world by definition lacks such faith in God. As. C. S. Lewis noted, we have put God “in the dock” (the British term for putting him on trial) and make demands of him that we make of no one else.
I have received two COVID-19 vaccines and a booster. However, I did not study pharmaceutical science to verify their contents before receiving them. I take a few prescription medications each day, but I have not sought advanced medical training to certify their efficacy. If faith is trusting that which I have not proven, I do almost everything I do by faith.
Sitting in this chair, breathing this air, eating the food I will eat today—all of it is done by faith. Since selling my 1965 Ford Mustang many years ago, I have not driven a car whose technology and engineering I understood. I wouldn’t even know how to change the oil on my current vehicle.
Not only do most of our decisions and actions require faith—all of our relationships do. Every relationship requires a commitment that transcends the evidence and becomes self-validating. You cannot prove you should marry your spouse before you marry them. You can examine the “evidence,” but you must step beyond it into a commitment that eventually validates itself. It is the same with friendships, employment, choosing schools to attend, and so on.
And it is the same with a relationship with God: you cannot prove his love until you experience it. You cannot prove his forgiveness until you seek it. You cannot prove his providence until you submit to it.
Such faith is not a leap into the dark but into the light.
“A period when true faith can emerge”
Oswald Chambers noted: “The reason some of us are such poor specimens of Christianity is because we have no Almighty Christ. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment to Jesus Christ.”
The way to know God is all you hope him to be is to believe him to be all you hope him to be. Such faith positions you to experience his best, to receive his grace, to experience his transforming love.
Henri Nouwen wrote: “I really want to encourage you not to despair, not to lose faith, not to let go of God in your life, but stand in your suffering as a person who believes that she is deeply loved by God. When you look inside yourself, you might sometimes be overwhelmed by all the brokenness and confusion, but when you look outside toward him who died on the cross for you, you might suddenly realize that your brokenness has been lived through for you long before you touched it yourself.
“Suffering is a period in your life in which true faith can emerge, a naked faith, a faith that comes to life in the midst of great pain. The grain, indeed, has to die in order to bear fruit, and when you dare to stand in your suffering, your life will bear fruit in ways that are far beyond your own predications or understanding.”
Will your life bear such fruit today?