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Reflections on 2023 from Ukraine

Yes, Ukraine. When we first moved to Ukraine no one in the West had a clue where that was! How far we have come in almost 33 years. I doubt there is anyone in the world who does not know where Ukraine is now.

A country at war. Attacked by the regime that oppressed them for decades before they became a free country in 1991. And then–Greed. Evil. Power. Destruction. Death. Fear. Anger.

AND YET–God is STILL on His throne. Have we prayed for the war to stop? Unendingly. And it continues. Senseless deaths and destruction. And God is still on the throne? Oh yes.

I in no way understand the ways of the Lord. But this past year when I have needed comfort Psalm 46 has been a strength to me. The reassurance that God is in control and can do what He wants when He wants. And He is with us. He is with me.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 
Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 46:6-11 (ESV)

And I see so many good things that have happened, in the midst of the war. People seeking answers when their world has been turned upside down. Many people coming into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Realizing for the first time that He is not a God far away, but One who is present and cares.

Compassion shown by so many. Ukraine has jumped way up in the statistics as far as being generous. And western governments and organizations have helped in so many ways, giving money, opening their countries to refugees. Generosity spurred by tragedy.

Many of our churches here in Ukraine have reached out to help. I see the compassion and giving in our own local church. And I see a unity and love like I have never sensed before.

Personally, I know I have grown spiritually. Part of my journey this year has been seeking materials to share with leaders to bring healing in the midst of trauma. We are surrounded by trauma. Oh, the part of the country we live in has not seen the physical destruction, but the pain is everywhere. Our main square downtown–which is called Independence Square– is filled with pictures of the men who have already died for this cause. And this is just one city out of many. Broken families, widows, orphans. And those who live in fear that the news will come to them–a brother died on the front. A son was cut down in the prime of life.

The cost of independence

The researching on this topic, the studying, well, that is why one of the categories in my blog is “brain science”. I have learned stuff I had no clue about. And it is fascinating. And as I learned about heart healing it brought healing in my own life in different areas.

There are many good tools out there. All of them useful. But I don’t have time to learn it all. And as I condensed it to what I think is most helpful and transferable, I began to put some of the principles to use in my own life. And am enjoying great benefit!

And I have made new friends in my search. Ladies who were willing to share what they know and help me with resources and contacts. Oh how they have made my life richer, not just in resources but in becoming personally (well–by ZOOM!) acquainted with them.

The Lord stretched me in taking on this task. And I need to be stretched. It isn’t very comfortable! But needful.

And so I can look back and see it as a good, rich year. Oh yes, many trials. But my faith is stronger. And how many years haven’t I prayed for more faith. And it is a joy to have something to offer to those who have walked in despair.

Hope. I have several Bible verses in the storehouse of my heart that speak of hope. They are more meaningful to me today than they were a year ago.

Yes, my anchor holds. I have experienced more peace this year. Not peaceful circumstances. A peaceful heart. I have learned how to actually build more joy into my life.

Yes, 2023 was a good year. Very different from what I desired. But we have a good God. One who keeps His promises. Not capricious. He is a Rock. He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.

Count your blessings, friends. Embrace the pain when it comes. Face 2024 with hope. Not hope in circumstances, but hope in a living, glorious, powerful, loving and good God.

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