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All week long, I’ve felt like I should post about the situation in Ukraine. But what do you say when you are waiting for something horrible to happen? What do you say when it begins? When the photos start flashing across social media?

Two weeks ago, I was in a webinar with scholars from all over the world. I’m not a participant. I sit and listen while academics in Belgium, Malaysia, and Ukraine speak. This time, everyone wanted to know how things were in Kyiv. “We are waiting,” he replied.

Now I am wondering. Is he even still alive? Is he?

I don’t know.

Worrying about a single person is such a small thing in the face of so much chaos and grief. But my chest aches with it. I tear up when I think on it. I feel broken.

That’s the term the Stated Clerk of Presbytery used in his prayer this week. “We lift our broken hearts in fervent prayer for peace in Ukraine.” He also reminded us that we can’t ignore the people of Russia. Not everyone there supports the invasion. To protest in Russia is a true act of bravery.

Even as I started writing this, I wasn’t sure what to say. What instruction could I give?

Only this.

It is okay to feel uncertain, lost or confused. It makes sense if you feel numb or overwhelmed. We are, after all, a broken people – human and full of flaws.

Try to spend a bit of time today in the presence of God. How you do this will be up to you. Me? I try to spend time outside in the sun and the wind. If the thermometer is to be believed, it is 26 degrees before I chose that path. I may have to wait until this afternoon. But I can pick up my prayer beads. I can light a candle. I can breathe deeply. And I can turn to Him and hope to carry some of his light back into this battered and broken world, and with my strength renewed put his light to work.

–SueBE

king-conflict-and-controversy

I’ve always thought of myself as possessing unlimited imagination, a riotous garden abloom. But just as weeds choke young flowers, so anxiety seizes me from time to time, strangling creativity before it can blossom. I get scared, see. And nothing does that more effectively than conflict.

My problem is that I want to be liked by everyone. But no one can be. People are far too variable in their affections, oscillating from fast friendship to loathing, allegiances twitching like a needle on a seismograph. Knowing this does not help; I still want everybody to be happy all the time. And where two parties’ happiness is diametrically opposed — aye, there’s the rub.

Simple answers present themselves: God loves me. Being loved isn’t my mission in this world; doing good is. You can’t make everybody happy. None of these truisms helps me sleep at night. (Okay, maybe the first one.) I am a perpetual middle child, always seeking harmony, always on edge.

All of which is to say that I have nothing to say. I cannot hold up any platitudes for you to embrace. I am all out of stories illustrating God’s Providence in the world. And you know what? That’s okay.

Being empty is also a state of being ready to be filled. And even in my darkest hours, I know this is possible, as I have been filled endlessly — to overflowing — by God’s movement in my life, over and over again. To say it can happen is to acknowledge that it will happen. And so it does.

Conflict will come and go; people will always resist the urge to let their gears mesh smoothly, often for very good reason. All I can do in these times is offer a place of peace. And when all peace has been drained from me, I can frankly and freely offer my empty cup to Christ. His peace is flowing like a river. He will always have some to spare.

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