By DANNY MINTON
I browsed through the posts yesterday on Facebook and saw much of what I usually view. People show pictures of cute babies laughing and children playing. I viewed lists on what I should and should not eat and determined they didn’t fit my lifestyle. Popping up on the screen were questions asking things that I ignored since they seemed to be “phishing.” There were those things that, after reading, told me if I truly loved Jesus, I’d pass it on. Others told me that I would receive a financial surprise if I shared the thought publicly. I doubted that my love for Jesus or financial gain had anything to do with sharing someone’s post.
Also, on Facebook, there were common complaints. Gasoline is well above three dollars a gallon and rising. People complain about certain foods being out of stock and inflation eating into incomes. There were complaints on the news about potholes not being repaired and packages being delivered late. There were gripes about the NFL and how this coach or player should be fired or let go. There were pro and con discussions about the Super Bowl halftime show. Then, as usual, there are complaints and criticisms about the government and what they are doing or not doing.
While scanning through the pages, I stopped on a video. It was a video of a man hugging his daughter, his wife standing beside him. His daughter was crying with his teary-eyed wife watching. The man is seen in tears as he releases his daughter. He is sending them to safety while he remains to defend his country. The scene, I’m sure, is one of many as men stay back to protect their homeland of Ukraine.
I listened to Val and Tatyana, our missionaries in Odessa, Ukraine, as they explained what was happening around them. A second reply told how shortly after the video, they began to hear bombings and were able to make it across the border to safety. There was a picture of people in fear huddled together in underground hiding places. People across the country were doing whatever they could to protect their families.
I only know two of the people living in that country. However, I feel for all those who are suffering. Many of my Christian brothers and sisters are hurting and in fear today. I have no idea what denomination they attend, but that doesn’t matter. They are people who believe in the same God and savior that I do, and they are in harm’s way. My prayers are with them all.
As I viewed all these things, I thought, “How fortunate I am that I can go buy gasoline for $3.19 a gallon and how I’ll be just as fortunate if it reaches $4.00.” I’m fortunate that there is still plenty of food on my shelves and the shelves of the stores, even if it’s a brand I don’t usually buy. I will sleep in my bed tonight without hearing explosions throughout the night. Sunday morning, I will attend our worship in peace and freedom.
Paul wrote to the Philippian church, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.” Philippians 4:10-14 (NASB)
We should be thankful that we live in a time and place of abundance, remembering that there are those of our brothers and sisters who today fear for their families and lives. Our prayers today should encourage us to be thankful for how we are so blessed. More importantly, we should be praying for those we do not know, who today only want the safety of their loved ones.
From where I live in Abilene, Texas, to Odessa, Ukraine, it’s a little over 6,000 miles. However, when I pray to God, the message travels the distance instantly. Too often, we tell people that we are praying for them when we don’t take the time to do so continually. We mean well, but we get quickly lost in our own world of complacency.
Today, take time to pray for those in another part of the world, people who you do not know and likely never will. However, they are your brothers and sisters in the family of God.
Today, to my brothers and sisters in Ukraine, I offer up to God a prayer of comfort and peace. May God keep you and your families safe and allow you to return to your homes soon. May God hold you today in the palms of His hands. You are loved.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ