Many of you probably know about the YouVersion Bible app. Operated by Craig Groeschel’s Life.Church, the app was designed to encourage and challenge people to seek God throughout the day.  It offers a free Bible experience in more than 1,900 languages and has been installed on more than 545 million unique devices. YouVersion named Isaiah 41:10 as its most referenced verse of 2022: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

“The popularity of this verse speaks to our desire to be reminded that even when we feel like we’re alone in our struggles, we’re not,” said Bobby Gruenwald, founder and CEO of YouVersion. “As this verse says, ‘God is our strength and He’s always with us.”‘

This year, Cuba stands out as the country with the greatest increase in Bible engagement – 76% higher than 2021.  Meanwhile, the fastest regional growth for Bible engagement is in Europe and Africa.  The app also saw Ukrainian-language Bible engagement hit an all-time high with increases in Poland (241%) and Germany (733%) compared to 2021.  Overall, Bible engagement in Ukraine rose by 55%.

At the beginning of the war, YouVersion searches in the Ukrainian language nearly doubled compared to the previous month.  Initially, trending search terms were words like “war,” “fear,” and “anxiety.”  As time passed and the war progressed, the top search term in Ukrainian became “love.” “These families are going through something most of us can’t imagine.  In the middle of what’s likely the most difficult time of their lives, they’re turning to the Bible for comfort, peace, and hope.”

I imagine myself living in a war-torn nation like Ukraine.  It very well may be that our days of relative peace and prosperity are coming to an end.  If so, I hope I will ever increasingly turn to scripture for inner strength.  It would be a time when I am humbled before the Lord, knowing how much I need him.  May I remember the words of Deut. 8:3: “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

I pray that I can draw strength from Isaiah 40:11 as the believers in Ukraine. Here is the Message translation: “Don’t panic.  I’m with you.  There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength.  I’ll help you.  I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” What strikes me is not panicking, but knowing God has a firm grip on my life. 

In the meantime I need to heed the instructions of Jesus as I anticipate the coming days.  “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). 

Jesus warns us to watch and pray: “Be always on the watch and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).  I can’t take anything for granted.  I Peter 4:7 instructs me to be vigilant: “Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted.  Stay wide-awake in prayer.” 

Lord, give me the grace to stand for you when the time comes.  I will look to the Lord for my strength.