My husband and I chose to host a seven-year-old Ukrainian girl this past Christmas for four short weeks. Anna traveled over 30 long hours from her orphanage to get here with her two older siblings and several other children. When we saw her for the first time, she was exhausted with nervous tears running down her face. However, it didn’t take long for her to smile as I worked to gain her trust by holding her hand and giving her a cozy blanket and stuffed animal in the car.
Anna quickly acclimated to our environment and our kiddos. She loved our children like they were her siblings. She often held June, got down at her level and smiled at her. She would always let Gentry “win” because she quickly learned winning was important to him. She was constantly making sure they were taken care of, ensuring they had snacks, helping them buckle in the car and finding toys for them to play with. Her selflessness was incredible and her ability to make the mundane feel special was one of my favorite things about her.
Of course, there were hard moments. Anna struggled with social and emotional skills which was to be expected. This may have been the first time in her life where she had genuine adult attention. We experienced every emotion on the spectrum daily which was precious, exhausting, and all of the things.
Having experienced this time with Anna where we took her in as our own for four short weeks makes the Russian/Ukrainian crisis extremely personal. With rumors spreading of a Russian invasion in December, we prayed hard that an invasion would happen sooner than later, so we could keep her safe with us. Sending her back into the unknown felt wrong, but we had no choice at the time.
Being in this uncomfortable space between helplessness and confidence in the Lord, I was drawn to 1 Samuel 14—one of my favorite stories of the Old Testament when Jonathan quietly picked a fight with 600 Philistines.
6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
7 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
What strikes me about this story is first, that Jonathan would have the courage to pick a fight with an army—just him and his armor-bearer fighting back. And at this time, the only two swords the Israelite army had belonged to Saul and Jonathan. An armor-bearer carried the armor and sword until there was real danger—then the armor and sword would be given to Saul or Jonathan. So let me recap this—Jonathan and his armor-bearer were taking one sword to a fight against 600 men.
The second thing that strikes me is his armor-bearers response: “Do all that you have in mind. Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” Jonathan knows the armor-bearer will have no weapon and the armor-bearer knows he will have no weapon, but the confidence that comes from his words is incredible.
I also love how Jonathan says, “Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” It seems Jonathan’s confidence is in what God can do, not what he knows he will do. He can save many but that doesn’t mean he will. However, this doesn’t stop Jonathan from moving in the direction that he knows is forward.
What you’ll find is God does deliver Jonathan and his armor-bearer, literally causing an earthquake that confused the Philistine army, causing them to fight one another. (Note, the ground was shaking for Jonathan and his armor bearer too. But somehow they stayed focused.)
I guess this is meaningful to me because I feel like I’m Anna’s armor-bearer. I have no physical weapon or tangible way of helping other than donating to make sure these orphans are taken care of, trusting it will get to the right place. Often times I think we see ourselves as the hero of the story, not so much the vulnerable side kick. But here we all are, trusting that the Lord will save as we know he can.
I think it’s also important to recognize how we fail to appreciate what verbal support and complete confidence does for someone’s spirit. Like in parent coaching, I come alongside the client with my support and confidence in their ability, knowing they have everything they need to succeed. It’s not my job to do the work for them, but instead, to offer them tools when they need them and remind them of their strength.
I wonder if Jonathan would have continued forward if it weren’t for his armor-bearers confident words? I am not sure, but I do know what happened after his armor-bearer’s words were spoken. They went for it!
We have gotten word that Anna and her orphanage has been evacuated to a neighboring country and are safe. We continue to pray for her daily and are allowing the Lord to fight for us in the battles that seem so distant but so close. We know man looks at the appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. And maybe that is what is all about. We may not have a weapon to defend those innocent kiddos with, but maybe what we can gift them is more significant—confidence knowing we are with them heart and soul.