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On the Ukraine Invasion: Asking Why

How should Christians view the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

by Andy Davis on March 01, 2022

Sin is the cause for the war in Ukraine.
Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?  In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.  Psalm 10:1-2 


The haunting question “Why” will never really be answered, nor can it be. Sin, introduced into God’s perfectly good world, is a virus attacking everything beautiful and orderly, everything good and pure, and making it defiled. God created beauty, sin makes it ugly; God created order, sin makes it chaos; God created life, sin makes it death. God is rational, sin is irrational. So, the question “Why” is inevitably the first to be spoken and the last to be answered. As President Vladimir Putin and the Russian military invade Ukraine, we are pent-up with fury and a sense of injustice and we cry out to God, “Why?!”

We will never know fully what led Putin to go to war. Discussions of his sanity, and his dictatorial behavior may tend toward some kind of “answer,” but sin is essentially insane. How can the answer ever be satisfying? The fact is that God asks a sinful human race the same three-letter question: WHY? Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! WHY will you die, O house of Israel?'” (Ezek. 33:11). The Lord asked David this same question after he committed adultery and murder: “WHY did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?” (2 Sam. 12:9). Jesus asked it of Peter after rescuing him from sinking, “You of little faith; WHY did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31). God asks a question He knows we can never answer. The Apostle Paul weighed it in anguish for all believers who see the pattern of evil and sin within and ask, “Why do I do the things I do?” He wrote: I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15).

But any questions of God concerning “Why” must be asked reverently. God has testified of the entire human race that all of us are guilty of sin and deserve His righteous condemnation (Rom. 3:9-23, 6:23). We are not so very different from Putin. We are cut from the same cloth, fashioned from the same clay, tempted in the same directions. Yes, there is a vast difference between unjustly invading a sovereign country and being angry in our hearts at someone who has treated us rudely at a shopping mall, but in regard to standing guilty on Judgment Day, there is none at all (Matt. 5:22). God could have prevented Putin from invading Ukraine, but He chose not to. Rather, God calls on all of us to look at the virus of sin within our own hearts, and to repent (see Luke 13:2-3). He calls on us to use tragedies like this one to preach the gospel and minister God’s rich mercy to hurting people. He calls on us to look at issues of violence and wickedness in our society and address them through justice. He calls on us to beat our own breasts and say, “Be merciful to me, the sinner.” And He calls on us to remember that this world is not all there is, and that all the Ukrainians and Russians that have died thus far went from this world to standing before Him on His Judgment Throne. Only the blood of Christ shed on the cross can fully answer all those questions and bring joy out of sorrow.

"But in the end, the only truly sane one here is God, and His solution to the problem of sin’s irrational attack on His beautiful universe is summed up in one word: Christ."

So, Psalm 10:1-2 states very plainly for us all the question of God’s relationship to the wicked killer stalking innocent people, and it asks the unanswerable “Why” question on our behalf. But in the end, the only truly sane one here is God, and His solution to the problem of sin’s irrational attack on His beautiful universe is summed up in one word: Christ. God allowed the only truly innocent man who ever lived to be caught up in a violent scheme perpetrated by cold-blooded murderers, and in this way, He brought perfect sanity and righteousness to all those He redeems. In the cross of Christ and in His empty tomb can be found the only answers to this question “Why?”

Tags: the power of sin