Standing With Ukraine During Lent

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a large-scale military invasion of Ukraine, a southwestern neighboring country, marking a steep escalation to a conflict that began in 2014. Several officials and analysts called the invasion the largest conventional military attack in Europe since World War II.” (Quote source Wikipedia.)

As of this morning, March 4, 2022, according to an article published in Reuters:

Russian forces in Ukraine seized Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant on Friday in an assault that caused alarm around the world and that Washington said had risked catastrophe, although officials said later that the facility was now safe.

Fighting also raged elsewhere in Ukraine as Russian forces besieged and bombarded several cities in the second week of an invasion launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The capital Kyiv, in the path of a Russian armored column that has been stalled on a road for days, came under renewed attack, with explosions audible from the city center… (quote source here–this page is continuously being updated by Reuters).

In an opinion piece published this morning, March 4, 2022, titled, Volodymyr Zelensky deserves the Nobel Peace Prize,” in the Washington Examiner by Jackson Richman, a journalist in Washington D.C., and contributor to the Washington Examiner, he wrote:

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has shown extraordinary leadership as his country faces Russia’s outrageous military invasion.

Referencing the heroic last stand of a Spartan-Greek contingent at the Battle of Thermopylae, Zelensky on Thursday declared, “I don’t want Ukraine’s history to be a legend about 300 Spartans.” He added, “I want peace.”

Recognizing his commitment to a just democratic peace, Zelensky should be given the Nobel Peace Prize.

Real peace cannot exist in a condition of external subjugation. Real peace instead entails the effort to negotiate a just peace and an end to war, but also to protect one’s home, family, and nation. That moral agenda is what Zelensky and his people are now serving.

In speech after speech, Zelensky has inspired the Ukrainian people to fight on for their country even amid the overwhelming military might of Russia. As Putin hides at his long table and waffles about nonexistent Nazis in Zelensky’s government—Zelensky is Jewish—Zelensky keeps up the good fight.

Addressing his people on Wednesday, Zelensky said, “We are on our native land. And for the war against us, there will be an international tribunal for them. My dears, the time will come when we will be able to sleep. But it will be after the war, after the victory in a peaceful country, as we need.”

Zelensky continued, “I ask all of you to take care of your loved ones. Take care of your brothers in arms. I admire you. The whole world admires you. Today, you, Ukrainians, are a symbol of invincibility. A symbol that people in any country can become the best people on Earth at any moment. Glory to Ukraine!”

Zelensky has also shown a commitment to doing whatever is realistically possible to prevent war.

Just before Russia’s invasion, Zelensky remarked, “The Ukrainian people want peace. The government in Ukraine wants peace and is doing everything it can to build it.” Zelensky emphasized his effort to get in touch with Putin and the failure of Putin to respond. The low-ranking Russian peace delegation sent to talk with Ukrainian officials at the Ukraine-Belarus border also emphasizes the outsize degree to which Zelensky, rather than Putin, is trying to end this terrible war.

There’s true prize-worthy leadership on display here. Indeed, historic leadership.

Leadership requires not running away from your people in a time of crisis. Since the invasion, Zelensky has stayed in Kyiv and has fought alongside his people in the hopes of maintaining Ukrainian sovereignty. He has also called on the world to take action. And it has worked. The U.S. and its allies have rallied by imposing significant sanctions on Russia and with escalating military and other assistance to Ukraine.

We now see a new Winston Churchill for the 21st century. This time it isn’t an experienced politician but rather a comedian-turned-president. Zelensky has shown resilience every step of the way. He deserves recognition. What better way than awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize? (Quote source here.)

The invasion of Ukraine occurred only a few days before the beginning of Lent which began two days ago on Ash Wednesday, and ends on Easter Sunday. For those unfamiliar with Lent, Christopher Reese, a guest blogger on Bible Gateway Blog, has written a post on Lent titled, What is the Meaning of Lent,” published on March 3, 2022:

Lent is a 40-day period of devotion and preparation for Easter. It technically covers 46 days, but Sundays are considered feast days not included in the count. The number 40 reflects the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness prior to his public ministry (Mark 1:12-13). All three major branches of Christianity—Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox—observe Lent, though many Protestant denominations do not.

Lent is a time for repentance, reflection, and spiritual rededication in light of Jesus’ sacrificial death for our salvation, and for many Christians this involves fasting, refraining from things or activities that one enjoys, and/or devoting time to spiritual activities like studying Scripture, praying, giving to charity, or reading devotional works….

For both Catholics and Protestants, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Church services held on this day typically involve placing ashes on the foreheads of participants, often in the shape of a cross, or sprinkling ashes on their heads. In Scripture, ashes are associated with repentance (e.g., Jeremiah 6:26), and clergy will sometimes quote Mark 1:15 while applying the ashes: “Repent and believe the good news.” This also marks the first day of fasting or giving something up (this varies by person and tradition). Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Great Lent, which begins on Clean Monday—a day similar to Ash Wednesday in that it focuses on turning away from sin.

For Catholics, Lent formally ends on Maundy Thursday evening, the Thursday that immediately precedes Good Friday, although fasting lasts until the Saturday before Easter (Holy Saturday). Maundy Thursday commemorates the original Lord’s Supper, the Passover Meal that Jesus shared with his disciples (Matthew 26:17-30). The word “maundy” comes from the Latin word meaning “command,” which refers to the command Jesus gave his disciples while they were gathered for the meal: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). Protestants also observe Lent until the evening of Holy Saturday. For Eastern Orthodox, observance doesn’t conclude until Easter Sunday morning. (Quote source here.)

Reese also states:

The tradition of fasting during Lent comes from the practice of the early church in which only one meal a day was eaten, and meat (including fish and eggs, along with dairy) was forbidden. In the centuries that followed, the number of fasting days was shortened and restrictions on what foods could be eaten were relaxed (though abstinence from meat and dairy is still widely practiced in Eastern Orthodox churches).

Fasting is not a widespread practice in our culture but has deep roots in Judaism and early Christianity. It’s natural for people today to wonder why Christians fast at all. As the notable pastor and author Andrew Murray explained, “Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, to sacrifice ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.” Similarly, pastor and author Jeffrey E. Miller writes, “Fasting reveals our physical needs and reminds us of our spiritual needs. When we give up something we depend on, we remember our dependence on God.” (Quote source here.)

A complete guide to fasting and Lent is available online from the editorial staff at, titled, Fasting for Lent: How to Fast and Why Christians Do It.” Click here to access this guide.

As stated above, Lent is a period of devotion and preparation leading up to Easter Sunday which is when we celebrate of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The invasion of Ukraine began a few days before the start of Lent, and it gives us an opportunity to pray on behalf of the citizens of Ukraine every day during this time of Lent. In an article published by the National Association of Evangelicals titled, Pray for Peace and Freedom in Ukraine and Russia,” there is a list of specific prayer points. The article states:

Evangelicals are committed to promoting peace and restraining violence, and we believe prayer can change the course of history. A war between Russia and Ukraine would have catastrophic consequences for both countries, with tragic loss of life, mass displacement of civilians and further curtailment of religious freedom and human rights.

We are grateful to Amy Richey, director of global equipping for ReachGlobal, a ministry of the Evangelical Free Church of America, for these specific prayer points that can help guide our prayers:

  1. Ask to see God’s glory amid great struggle. God often uses very serious situations to draw people to himself. Pray that he would be glorified through the people of Ukraine who are following him.
  2. Pray for God’s peace to be a source of strength. Pray for the workers there — both expat and Ukrainians to be comforted by God’s shalom peace. Pray that they would have opportunities to share with others because they do not trust in governments, but in God.
  3. Pray for God’s protection. Pray for the safety of people on both sides of this border. Ask God for their physical protection but also their spiritual protection — ask him to help people seek the truth during the conflict.
  4. Ask God for comfort. As the war continues from the 2014 Russian invasion of the Crimea region [and now in 2022 with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine], the thought of more intense war seems overwhelming to the many families who have already lost fathers and sons.
  5. Ask God to intervene. Pray for wisdom as world leaders maneuver, strategize and speak out. Pray that God would move in their hearts and guide their steps and plans.
  6. Pray that Ukraine and Russia would be places without corruption. Pray for leaders of both countries to know God’s truth and peace and be transformed by his Holy Spirit, that they would seek to lead their countries in the way of peace.
  7. Ask for repentance, grace, forgiveness and reconciliation throughout Ukraine and Russia. Pray not only for the leaders of these countries, but for the people — that they would not have animosity between them but be united in reconciliation.
  8. Ask that this would open doors of opportunities for the gospel. God has a way of showing up when things are difficult. Pray that he would make his name known across Ukraine and Russia as the result of this conflict. (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the words from Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV): Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength…

They shall mount up with wings like eagles . . .

They shall run and not be weary . . .

They shall walk and not faint. . . .

YouTube Video: “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” sung by Selah:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here