Day by day the world grieves along with the shell-shocked people of Ukraine as we see images of them on bombed out roads and bridges, arms laden with babies and the few essential items they were able to grab before fleeing their homeland. Men of all ages – sons, fathers and grandfathers – remain behind, vowing to fight to their deaths.
Videos and photos show us the crushing reality of train stations jammed with mothers desperate to get their children to safety, often weeping with a combination of relief and fear once they finally cross the border into a safe country. And no sane person can fathom the decision to target and destroy hospitals specifically dedicated to treating mothers and children.
We can be tempted to turn away because we feel incapable of digesting the enormous amount of grief and destruction, the complete upending of families and lives that were peaceful and stable just days ago. But amid the chaos, we also see the unmovable strength of mothers on a mission – on both sides of the Ukrainian border.
Mothers with fulfilling careers and busy lives just like ours, have been thrust into nearly unimaginable challenges – suddenly dodging bombs and bullets. They’ve been forced to kiss their husbands goodbye, gather their children, and go in search of food, shelter and refuge.
Mothering refugees from the war
Mothers in neighboring countries are taking the lead in welcoming them, cooking hot meals and opening their homes. I’ve been brought to tears by the photographs of baby strollers, many filled with blankets and clothes, left by Polish mothers at train stations near the border. What a thoughtful, tangible act of kindness – gifting something both simple and yet so valuable to fellow mothers in need.
I’ve been repeatedly awed by the Ukrainian mothers I’ve interviewed during these gut-wrenching weeks. Two of them were heavily pregnant members of the Ukrainian Parliament, less worried about their own comfort and more focused on securing a future of freedom for their babies.
Then there’s Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, a mother of four who is making the case for help in every corner of Washington, D.C., from Capitol Hill to the White House.
The courage of these mothers reminded me so much of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the insights I re-discovered about her in my new book, "The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak." It’s easy to forget that she, too, was once forced to flee with her young son – all because a madman wanted him dead.
Joseph and Mary had no choice but to run as far away as possible … The journey would have been long and exhausting. The young family, probably leaving their native land for the first time, set out across the rugged plains of Sinai carrying a toddler, trudging through thirst and weariness across an expanse of sand and rugged hills. …
What about the mother who flees the chaos of a collapsing country or the poverty or violence that threatens her child’s life? She is journeying on a path that Mary and Jesus knew. … Scripture reminds us, however, that God is ever present. He is as interested in the details of your struggle as He was in the plight of Mary and Joseph all those centuries ago.
God understands our suffering
In these times of heart-breaking news, I want to encourage you with the truth of two things. First, God is always aware of suffering. Scripture repeatedly tells us that Christ endured everything we as human beings experience: hunger, thirst, temptation and – yes – suffering. He knows what it is to be hunted down, displaced, threatened and persecuted.
Second, throughout the ages mothers have exhibited enormous bravery and determination when it mattered most. In "The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak," readers journey along with women fleeing famine and unrest, walking through the shock of widowhood and grieving as their children face danger and death.
Their stories challenged me to take a much closer look at each one of them and their circumstances. I came away inspired and encouraged, reminded that when adversity meets deep faith miracles are often not far behind.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the gravity of the war, there is hope in these stories. Today’s Ukrainian women are busy writing the next chapter.
Shannon Bream is the author of "The Women of the Bible Speak," the anchor of Fox News @ Night, and the chief legal correspondent for Fox News Channel. Her book "The Mothers & Daughters of the Bible Speak" publishes on March 29.
You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukrainian moms show biblical courage amid horror of war: Shannon Bream