This is the story of God’s plan for my family. I came to Canada in my eighth month of pregnancy, five years ago, with my husband and three children. We didn’t have any relatives or jobs and I was the only person who spoke English. However, we had a deep trust in God’s plan for us. God led us gently by our hands through all the challenges we faced here in Canada.
Almost one year ago, I had to make a really difficult decision in my life. When I made it, my older daughter Anna gave me a gift – a bracelet with the inscription Jeremiah 29:11, the verse of which says:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
This bracelet is always on my wrist. I trust and live with the words God spoke to me.
The invasion of my homeland Ukraine started on February 24th. At that time, as an Eparchial Youth and Young Adult Minister, I was at St. Michael’s Camp in Madge Lake with the youth. During our evening prayer our priest announced that there was bombarding of Ukraine by Russia, and I couldn’t believe…. The first thing I did after our prayer was over, I ran to my phone to call my son….
My son and my daughter-in-law are permanent residents of Canada. They went to Ukraine to celebrate Christmas with their relatives, to travel around Europe, and to avoid the harsh Saskatchewan winter. They were supposed to come back the next week.
When I called my son, he with his wife were already heading for the Polish border. I whispered: please let them leave…
While they were standing in a line to cross the border, I drove back to Saskatoon and went to the church. With all my heart I was praying there for many hours while they were approaching customs. I already knew that there was almost no hope that my son would be able to leave as it was announced that no men 18-60 years of age are allowed to leave the country.
At that time there was a prayerful gathering in the church. My friend with Down’s Syndrome entered the church and saw me. He invited me to join their prayers; however, I refused. I said I was not ready to see anyone and to be among people, I wanted to stay alone and pray. My friend left but in two minutes he returned and said that he would pray with me. And he prayed. He was praying for so long, and so sincerely: Jesus was with me. Then I put my head on his shoulders and I cried so bitterly, and he embraced me and let me cry. I felt Jesus’ embraces, His presence and love. He did not say anything but He gave me everything I needed at that moment.
God had His plan towards my son. My son wasn’t allowed to leave as he was military obliged, and my daughter-in-law did not want to leave her husband, so they stayed.
However after my encounter with Christ in the church, my anxiety about my son has left me. Since then, I entrusted him into the God’s hands following the example of Holy Mary who entrusted Her Son to Heavenly Father. Since then, I see my son in every soldier, and no matter whether he is a Ukrainian or Russian as they all are someone’s sons; therefore, my suffering is great.
Yes, I went through different stages of grief: rejection, shock, pain, anger at people that surrounded me, isolation, but it is normal. God has His plan towards everyone. There is the reason why my son is in Ukraine. Though I do not know it, I trust.
This path has brought me to the understanding of pain and suffering in the world. It gave me the opportunity to reflect deeper on God’s mercy and His love towards people who suffer and who are bringing this suffering. I know that God loves everyone, no matter how sinful you are, because God is love. God loves even Putin. Like all people, Putin is God’s child as well. Therefore, God suffers lots. We suffer incredibly seeing all these injustices, killings, that we are able to see with our eyes and our hearts. However, God sees everything, and how much He must suffer having the full picture of pain and everything going on in Ukraine and all over the world! When we take the side of revenge and hatred, we are not cooperating with God but we bring more suffering to God. If we are not with God, we are with evil. There is nothing in between! If we want to ease God’s suffering and to cooperate with Him in healing the wounds of humankind, we must follow God’s principles: to pray, to love, to forgive and to try to see everyone and everything through God’s eyes.
Therefore, I am not asking God about my son, I am praying for Putin’s conversion and God’s Mercy for him. I know I want to be on God’s side and I trust in God’s plan towards my family, for He knows the plans He has for me.
Youth and Young Adult Minister for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon.
Editor’s note: as of June 2, 2022, Viktoriia’s son and his wife remain in Ukraine.