Faith in a time of conflict

Image courtesy of Mark Sellin

Where is God? I think many will be feeling as if God has left the building, that God doesn’t care. There appears to be a vacuum where God should be; a piece missing from the crazy jigsaw that makes up our lives. Where is God in the mind of someone who can unleash missiles against the citizens of another country; who can spread lies about the reasons; who seems to feel nothing about bombing schools, hospitals, homes and now nuclear power plants? Where is God in the evil actions that seek to destroy lives, livelihoods, in the name of power?

And yes, we cannot find God in evil. God is good, God is all good. God works for good in all things. So, no, God is not in the evil we see on our screens, not in those acts of terror and violence. But that doesn’t mean that God is absent, that God does not care or that God’s presence is missing.

I see God everywhere in the news at the moment. And yes, the next words can sound trite and contrived, but from my own experience of life and darkness, the light does exist, and still flickers. We need to remember the simple story of Elijah’s request to see God: from behind a rock he experiences earthquake, wind and fire, but God is not in those. God is in the still small voice.

And we see that still, small voice in the action of the Ukrainians: handing hot tea and food to hungry, scared and bewildered Russian soldiers; allowing them to phone their mothers; in the bravery of the mothers giving birth in underground shelters; in the response of Poland and other nations in welcoming refugees; in offering free car journeys to safety, free accommodation, sharing their houses and food. In the united response of governments to condemn the violence, seeing it for what it is, and saying what it is.

And it is in the response of ordinary people around the world, collecting money, clothes, toiletries and blankets for the refugees: societies collecting these things have had so much donated they can’t deal with it all. And God is in the bravery of those standing up within Russia, protesting, and taking the consequences, even young children. God is the hope that lives in these actions, that shows love is there, that shows humanity can work for good.

We no longer believe in a God who will send thunder bolts or who will smite our enemies. Through Jesus we have seen that God acts in solidarity with those who are oppressed, through the action of the Spirit of God, of good, within us. We are sent out in the power of the Spirit to live and work for God.

I cannot imagine the fear and sense of helplessness those undergoing the onslaught in Ukraine will be feeling. But in their actions of love and friendship to the invaders I see the hand of God, and the light of hope. All those still, small voices reaching through the darkness and proving that humanity is good, and that there is hope.

Revd Jackie Sellin

We hope that you also derive comfort from these recent sermons by Jackie. They are available here:

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