Events in the Ukraine over the last ten days have shown us just how easy it is for our world to be turned upside-down. At the time of writing, over a million Ukrainian women and children have been displaced from their homes, jobs and schools and are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Millions more are sheltering in basements, waiting and praying. Lawyers, teachers and binmen are taking up arms to defend their country. None of them know whether life will ever return to normal, or even whether they will see their loved ones again. Their world has been turned upside-down in an instant, and politicians, leaders and businesses around the world have been forced to take steps to prevent the crisis from deepening even further.
As we continue our current series in 2 Corinthians, we are frequently reminded that the Apostle Paul and his colleagues often faced such times of uncertainty. He recalls being in danger wherever he went – suffering hunger and thirst; being cold and naked; imprisoned, flogged, stoned and shipwrecked (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Reflecting on these experiences, he described these troubles as being ‘…far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.’ But as they experienced God at work in their upside-down world, they learned by faith to recognise that ‘…this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.’ (2 Cor 1:8-9)
Paul’s life and faith in the power of God who raised Jesus from the dead is an invaluable example to follow when we are faced with a world turned upside-down, whether that turmoil is seen in world events or in our own personal experiences of sudden bereavement or illness, injury or job loss.
As we move through Lent towards Easter, we will increasingly focus on the central truth of the Christian faith, which is that God raised Jesus from the dead so that we could find new life in him. It was such earth-shattering news that those first Christians who proclaimed the Good News were themselves accused of ‘…turning the world upside-down…’ (Acts 17:6) Perhaps that should be our response to current events? After all, if like Paul, we put all our energy into the task of turning this world upside-down by praying and working towards the way things ought to be and by showing God’s love… then surely we will be turning this upside-down world the right way up?
With our love and prayers
Matthew and Pauline