In March, we began year three of the pandemic and hoped for a return to normal. From afar, we watched the destruction of Ukraine and its people by Russia. In Portland, many people struggled with the continuing crisis of homelessness. Crime is on the increase with shootings almost every night of the week. And in Oregon, we are experiencing another surge of new Covid cases. It seems one thing begins to improve and another pops up somewhere nearby, in the country, or in the world.

We ask ourselves what we can do about these horrific crimes hurled at Ukraine and its people? What might we do for those still suffering from COVID? What about those without homes, or those who lose their lives to gunfire?
The first thought that comes to our minds is the gift of prayer. For some, it is hard to believe that we can make a difference by praying. So many miles lie between us and the differences in our religions, culture, and lifestyle.
God makes no difference between people and their cultures; all are his children. He loves them all.
As we pondered the state of things as March began, we read a devotional written by Max Lucado that brought a ray of hope.
Lucado’s devotional shared the story of a reporter in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War in the early 1990s. While jotting notes about a skirmish he was witnessing, he saw a little girl take a sniper’s shot to the back of her skull. A man nearby crouched over her and attempted to help her. The reporter dropped his notes and pen and ran to the man and child. His car was nearby so he had the man bring the girl and get in his car. The journalist began driving as the man cried that the child was still alive. Then he cried that she was still warm. And then, he cried she was getting cold. On arriving at the hospital, the girl was dead.
As the journalist and the other man cleaned the girl’s blood from their hands, the man said,
This is a terrible task for me. I must go tell her father that his child
is dead. He will be heartbroken. 
The journalist responded he thought the man was her father. The man responded with, “No, but aren’t they all our children?” (p. 71)
Lucado ends his devotional by reminding us that suffering belongs to all. He goes on to say if each of us responds, there is hope.
Often I have ignored the needs that rise up around me. The hungry seek food for their families. The homeless in winter seek a warm place to sleep. The sick seeking a way to find medical help. The war-torn country is in need of help of all kinds. What can I do? Pray their needs are met, pray for their healing and recovery, and pray for peace. I could help by delivering meals or transporting patients to doctor appointments. At the least, I could contribute funds to help meet these needs.
If we all make an effort to respond, we can bring hope to our hometown, our state, and our country. And yes, we can even give hope to a country somewhere else in the world.
How will you respond to those around you who are suffering or in need?
Hope is alive, my friends,


Featured image attribution: Philip Long

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