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Putin warns that Russia is prepared to use nuclear weapons

March 14, 2024 -

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking during an interview with a Russian state-owned media organization in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 12, 2024. As Vladimir Putin heads for another six-year term as Russia’s president, there’s little electoral drama in the race. What he does after he crosses the finish line, however, is what’s drawing attention and, for many observers, provoking anxiety. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking during an interview with a Russian state-owned media organization in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 12, 2024. As Vladimir Putin heads for another six-year term as Russia’s president, there’s little electoral drama in the race. What he does after he crosses the finish line, however, is what’s drawing attention and, for many observers, provoking anxiety. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking during an interview with a Russian state-owned media organization in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 12, 2024. As Vladimir Putin heads for another six-year term as Russia’s president, there’s little electoral drama in the race. What he does after he crosses the finish line, however, is what’s drawing attention and, for many observers, provoking anxiety. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

US intelligence agencies issued their 2024 Annual Threat Assessment this week, warning that our country faces an “increasingly fragile world order.” They could have been reading today’s news:

  • As elections begin tomorrow in Russia, President Vladimir Putin says his country is ready to use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty or independence is threatened.
  • The US sent Marines to Haiti to help secure its embassy amid rising gang violence.
  • Hezbollah launched a hundred rockets on northern Israel in one of the heaviest barrages since the start of the conflict. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is warning that the terrorist group is “dragging Lebanon into a possible war.”
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the IDF will press forward with its military campaign into Rafah amid rising international pressure. Meanwhile, the US Army is sending soldiers to help set up a temporary pier in Gaza for getting more aid and supplies into the territory. An aid ship is sailing to Gaza as well.
  • The House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would lead to a nationwide ban of TikTok if its China-based owner doesn’t sell its stake; the legislation now goes to the Senate. This amid fears the video app could be used to gather personal information on Americans and to spread false information about US elections or a war.
  • Europe’s terror threat is growing from Iran and its proxies in the Middle East.
  • Scientists are warning that the H5N1 bird flu virus could be evolving into a greater threat to humans.
  • The FBI estimates that cybercrime cost Americans $12.5 billion last year.

Here’s what these stories have in common: they are all examples of what psychologists call “anticipatory stress,” where we feel deep anxiety today about things that could happen to us tomorrow. Each of these stories is existentially challenging as they are; any of them could become much worse seemingly overnight.

One reason anticipatory stress is so debilitating is because repeatedly visualizing an event can have a similar impact on our brain as actually experiencing it. In response, we can ignore the future, but tomorrow is coming whether we like it or not. We can obsess over it, which robs today of its joy while focusing our attention on fears that may never come to pass.

Or we can choose a third, counterintuitive option that will empower us to face all that comes today—and tomorrow.

A phrase I just discovered

This week, we’ve been exploring ways a personal, intimate relationship with the living Lord Jesus transforms our character and empowers our witness. Today, I’d like to explore a phrase I just discovered in my personal study of the book of Job:

“[God] delivers the afflicted by their affliction” (Job 36:15).

What does this mean?

  • “Delivers” translates the Hebrew for “pulls out, saves.”
  • “Afflicted” renders the Hebrew for being “wretched, poor.”
  • “By their affliction” could be translated “by using their affliction.”
  • This is an interesting wordplay: “delivers” translates the Hebrew halas, while “affliction” translates

I often state my belief that God redeems all he allows. One way he does this is by using our challenges to rescue us from challenges and our suffering to save us from suffering.

How does he do this?

Where Jesus “breaks through to you”

Solomon, the wisest of all men, wrote: “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things” (Psalm 72:18, my emphasis).

Tragically, despite all that God wants to do in and through our lives, self-sufficiency is the “default position” of our fallen souls. In our secularized, self-centered culture, self-reliance is an attribute praised by society as well.

However, God cannot give what we will not receive or lead where we will not follow.

When we face genuine adversity, we learn that we need God’s word and power in ways we did not admit before. If we then surrender our challenges to his providential grace, we discover that we can testify with Paul, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). And we can pray with the psalmist: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (Psalm 119:67).

Br. Geoffrey Tristam of the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Boston notes:

Christ breaks through to you, not in those places where you are strong, where your skills are well-honed and developed, but precisely in those areas in your life where you know failure or weakness. For it is there that you come close to the power of the Cross. It is precisely there that God is waiting to meet you, longing to offer you forgiveness, strength, and renewal, to live and work not in your own strength, but in the strength of Christ.

Where is God “waiting to meet you” today?

Thursday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” —Tim Keller

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