“It seems that we are awfully expendable to you,” I prayed one morning this past week, thinking of the catastrophe unfolding in Ukraine.

And as sometimes happens, in response an image came to my mind: Christ on the cross.

It is hard to argue with God and win. For as much as we may feel that human life holds little value on this blood-soaked sphere of ours, scripture tells another story: one of a Father who loved his children so much, he took on human form and shed his own blood to save them.

Still, it has not stopped the killing.

For there are always those who insist on having their own way, who want more than their share, who would rather be God than bend to him.

“The outer world is only an expression of an inner, spiritual world,” the theologian Eugene Peterson wrote in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. In other words, the violence and strife erupting around us are a produced by the violence and strife raging within us. If our spiritual world is broken, then our physical world will be as well.

Some of the sorrows we suffer are the result of our own actions. Some result from the actions of others. But in both cases, the remedy is the same. To repair what is broken we must acknowledge our need for God, repent of our wrongdoing, and ask for his help.

                Or as the psalmist writes,

                “I look to you, heaven-dwelling God,

                                Look up to you for help,

                Like servants, alert to their master’s commands,

                                Like a maiden attending her lady,

                We’re watching and waiting, holding our breath,

                                Awaiting your word of mercy.

                                                Mercy, God, mercy!

                We’ve been kicked around long enough,

                Kicked in the teeth by complacent rich men,

                Kicked when we’re down by arrogant brutes”

                                                                                Psalm 123 (MSG).

“We live under the mercy of God,” Peterson writes. “He rules, guides, commands, loves us as children whose destinies he carries in his heart.”

And so it is to him that we lift up our cry for mercy.

Surely God sees our trouble. The news is not news to him. Neither is it new.

America’s slaughter of Native Americans and enslavement of Africans. Turkey’s genocide of the Armenians. Stalin’s massacres.  Hitler’s Holocaust. Mao’s Great Leap Forward. Human cruelty is as old as human existence.

So here we are in the midst of another global crisis, left to battle it out, to weep, to watch and to pray as a power beyond our control seeks to impose its wicked will on our world. And yet, those responsible are not beyond the power of God. Scripture promises that a day of justice is coming in which those who do evil will be destroyed and those who turn to God will be saved.

In the meantime, our assignment is to care for those whose lives have been shattered. For just as violence and strife can shape the world, so too can faith and hope and love.

Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes from a little house in the big woods of Midcoast Maine. She is also the author of the children’s picture book The Backward Easter Egg Hunt and four other books celebrating the holidays with activities that build children’s faith. Connect at www.meadowrue.com