4/18/2022 – The Pain of Bucha

From Jon Eide – MTW Ukraine Country Director: Everyone who has been in a car accident, especially an accident that could have been much worse, is shaken.  Usually for a time there is a shock that gives one perspective.   These experiences involving death around us, or near death ourselves, have a deep and lasting impact on our lives that make us humbled before (or angry at) God, and change our perspective on everything in this world.

This is how I’ve felt in the days since Bucha.  I  know Bucha – I know it because I’ve been there many times, know people who live there, our kids went on field trips to a farm there, and we lived ten miles away.  

Bucha is now more of a war crime than a city. What happened there, ten miles from where my children grew up, will be remembered and mourned for years to come.  Seeing the atrocities; the man shot while riding his bike, the women naked and dead in the street, and the mass graves with hundreds of bodies has been the hardest point for me in the war.  It has been the perspective changing event that has made me equal parts asking God how long, and why.   

It’s been painful because of what happened, and because of what could have happened.  

Bucha is just one city that has been liberated, other cites where Russian troops have been have seen similar barbarous acts, and there are still many cities that Russian troops currently occupy in Ukraine, and we will likely see similar pictures from those places.

As if what happened is not bad enough, what could have happened is much worse.  If Russia would have not been stopped, and is not stopped, we would have seen similar, and may see worse images and stories coming out of many other cities.  If the ten miles from Kyiv had become 7, 5, or 0, we would have seen our churches destroyed, seminary ransacked, and  worst of all, more civilians, many more civilians, killed.

Seeing all this, we cry out how long, and have mercy.  There is still a long way to go in this war, and one possible scenario is that it becomes a prolonged conflict that will last for a long time.  Much suffering has taken place, and much more is to come.  

I heard from a friend in Kyiv who asked the question – “How can we live after Bucha?”  A question I’ve been asking myself.  It reminds me of the Auden poem Funeral Blues – the last lines of which are: 

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

This is how many of us feel now.  The lines of the Lord’s Prayer, a bit more famous than Auden, are both a comfort and a hope to me now.  Your kingdom come and Your will be done.  The comfort is that His good and perfect will, in the end, will be done.  The hope is that His kingdom will come.  A kingdom that judges those responsible for Bucha, and that will wipe away every tear from Ukraine.   In the meantime we have His comfort and grace.

It’s been 50 days of this war in Ukraine now.  50 days that have made us humbled before (or angry at) God.  Tomorrow is Easter Sunday (next week in Ukraine), where we celebrate the hope that the resurrection provides us.  Pray that somehow Ukrainians could celebrate this hope and pray for His kingdom to come.  

Compiled by Leanne Portzel

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