Let’s confess right up front that I am by nature a positive thinker. I believe the best about God, and therefore I believe that God wants the best for the world. That being said, I also believe that we have to do our best. We do not sit idly by, assuming God will correct our mistakes or compensate for our inactions. We partner with God in creating the best world possible.
So, though I am a positive thinker, there are moments when I am not entirely positive about what I see around me. That has nothing to do with my faith in God, but rather with my lack of faith sometimes in some people. Right now I, like you, am seriously concerned about what we are witnessing in Eastern Europe. The situation in Ukraine is frightening, and not in an isolated sense. Vladimir Putin was a Communist until the party’s demise and served in the KGB from 1975-91. Some of his recent record in human rights issues, in relations with the west, and in the intimidation of neighboring nations formerly in the USSR give us reason to suspect his KGB roots are still very much alive.
Leaders of various nations are expressing emotions from alarm to fear. Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean told the AP: “Romania is extremely preoccupied.” He spoke specifically of fears that Russia may attempt to invade Moldova, as they have Crimea. Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Lithuania have large Russian populations and, like Romania, exist in fear that Putin may claim a need to “protect” those citizens and thus do in their nations what he has done in Ukraine. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said at an EU emergency summit last week: “Russia today is trying to rewrite the borders in Europe after World War II.”
So, where is a note of hope when observing a moment in history as tense (and fraught with possibilities of massive retreats toward former Cold War days) as this? The hope comes from two sources: political reality and corporate Faith. The political reality is that the bottom line in global politics is economics. Russia needs it relationships with NATO in order to remain economically solvent. It survives on its annual sales of natural gas to Europe and the west. The west also depends on purchasing that fuel. So, each side will be motivated to find a place of reasonable compromise in order to maintain economic equilibrium. The Faith reality is that troubling leaders have come and gone throughout history, and the world has survived them all. The Roman Empire is a great illustration, but there are also countless others. Across the years people of Faith have prayed for those who suffer threats and oppression, and they have also assisted in whatever ways were possible. And Faith has always won. I believe it always will. So, now I am praying for the people in Ukraine and other free nations formerly under domination of the USSR. I am praying for Russian leaders, as well. I am praying that right and reason prevail, that all involved will be led by the Holy Spirit, that those in power will endeavor to “turn swords into plowshares,” and that the world will pay attention to the life and words of “the Prince of Peace.” Though I am not always positive about individual political leaders, I am unfailingly positive that God is in control and can always provide detours from highways that seem to be headed toward inhumanity. May it be so.