2/24/2023 – “A year ago today, I….”

From Ira Kapitonova in Kyiv (Day 365):

O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
Psalm 65:2

It is amazing how your memory chooses to keep some ordinary events that didn’t mean much at the moment. For example, the first weeks of the war are a blur. I don’t remember anything specific from days a week or a month ago, but I remember the days before the invasion in great detail.

A year ago today, I spent most of the day reading the news and crying. It felt similar to mourning. Perhaps, it was my moving from bargaining to acceptance. On the evening of that day (Wednesday, February 23), we had an important doctor’s appointment that we had rescheduled a few times. I was worried if we would make it before the invasion. We had to travel to the other side of the city to see the doctor. While waiting for her in the hallway, we heard an airplane flying low over the hospital building – the military airfield was only a few kilometers away. In less than 12 hours, that military airfield would be attacked by the Russians – it was an air assault meant to be the primary stepping stone to surrounding Kyiv. As we left the hospital, the streets were packed with traffic, a usual occurrence in Kyiv. The navigator showed that it would take us almost 2 hours to get home. My heart kept racing, and my only prayer was, “God, help us get home before the invasion.” It seemed that the air in Kyiv was thick and heavy with the anticipation of doom.

We tried our best to keep the usual activities. We bought groceries that day. Preparing the grocery list, I kept second-guessing every purchase, wondering if we would have the chance to use it, but Іван kept encouraging me to go about it as usual. Most of the groceries we bought that day stayed in our fridge untouched.

We did get home before the invasion. I was even going to take my good friend to the airport later that night, but she found someone else to do it. I was sad I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, but we hoped she would return soon. She was the first to message me in the first hours of the full-scale war. And her plane was among the last ones to leave the airport. Soon, all runways were blocked to prevent the Russian planes from landing.

That night, we went to bed as usual. We kept joking that everyone was hesitant to take a shower those days because everyone was afraid to be “indecent” at the moment of invasion. At that moment, we were still unaware of how many times we’ll choose to use humor to overcome our fear.

We’ve seen so much pain in the past year, yet we know that more months of this pain are still ahead of us. We now have no illusions about the nature of our enemy and have no false hopes for its humanity. However, this year has changed us. A dear friend of mine phrased it perfectly, “The cost is unspeakably horrible. But we have also gained so much. Strength, unity, hope, and dependence on God. Love for the Ukrainian language. Awakened churches and people hungry for God. A country full of volunteers. Incredible support and friendship from our neighbors in Europe and much of the rest of the world. A new openness, support, and willingness to sacrifice for each other. Gratitude for small things. Countless reminders of eternity and what is truly important.”

As I go to bed tonight, I am surprised by how different my feelings are from one year ago. And it’s not just me. I was surprised by how many people make plans for tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and weeks and months ahead. We know that God is with us, and we are confident that He will not leave us nor forsake us, for we’ve already seen proof of that. The fear, cruelty, and war did not kill our desire to keep living. And this already is a victory in itself.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:8-9, 17-18)

This February 24, Christians around the world will be fasting and praying for God’s protection, victory, and revival of Ukraine. May the Lord hear our prayers and heal our land.

6 responses to “2/24/2023 – “A year ago today, I….””

  1. It has been a long year of prayer! Those of us in Western countries can not imagine what Ukrainians have gone through, though we see and hear news every day! Please know I still wake up and immediately think of Ukraine and pray.

    “ This February 24, Christians around the world will be fasting and praying for God’s protection, victory, and revival of Ukraine. May the Lord hear our prayers and heal our land.”

    We here in America and I’m sure other countries can pray with you, but also to heal what is broken in our lands. May God lead Ukrainians to victory!


    • Amen!!!! Praising God for all the miracles, love notes through out the year!
      And praying for God to bring victory to Ukraine!!!
      Thank you for this wonderful post!


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