Devotional — Jesus is always with us

Published 10:03 am Friday, March 18, 2022

If you were Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, you would be consumed by one idea – how to get Putin to stop. This thought, this purpose, this objective would be with you day and night. It is a dark time for him and for all Ukrainians who are reluctantly swept into this mindless and needless and evil war. It is utterly unfathomable to me how it feels to be so captured by another nation’s actions that my life is forever changed. If I were there, I would not be allowed to leave with my family because I am a male of fighting age. While it is hard to stomach, I guess I would be fighting. I truly cannot imagine what it is really like.

What I can imagine is that we all from time to time are pushed into situations that we do not want to experience. The severity of those feelings is probably somehow proportional to the dislike for the experience. Since none of us is reeling from the abuses of war, we deal with much smaller, troubling things. I really don’t like going to the dentist, but I tolerate it because I want to keep the chompers healthy. The season of Lent is also something that we can experience but may not want to. This is the least enjoyable but most meaningful time of the church year. We are actually trying to remember the road to the cross and to share more intentionally in Jesus’ walk on that road. We do this through religious and spiritual practices, spiritual disciplines, and holding the trouble Jesus felt closer to our minds and hearts. We invite suffering and appreciate how our Lord suffered. No, Lent is not a fun time. It is not like Advent when everything is lights and presents and songs. This is for serious followers of Jesus who want to draw nearer to the heart of our Lord.

If there is anything that these last couple of years has taught us, it is that life in this world is tough. There is always something that can come along and tip the applecart. What will never change, however, is Jesus’ willingness to go right into the heart of that trouble. Our Savior did it before, even if he himself struggled with the decision, and he is with the people of Ukraine now. He is with us all as we face the darker times. Lent is when we most remember that.

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Whether you are one to share in Lent or not, maybe take a few moments in this time to reflect on Jesus’ willingness to enter that part of life that we tremble to name – our sin, our brokenness, our death, the very evil we unleash on each other. He took it all for us and is still standing by the children of God in our greatest need. Grace and peace to you all, truly grace and peace.

Rev. Dr. Peter Smith is the pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at