Saturdays are busy. There are errands to run, groceries to buy, laundry to wash, cleaning to be done. The kitchen sink used to be more a shade of white, but now it’s turning some sort of yellowish gray from neglect. I could actually weave a rug from the amount of dog hair on our living room carpet. The closets are a disaster. Toys have taken over. And the bathrooms. Oh, the bathrooms. We can just leave it at that.
Driving from store to store, however, in a quiet car, as I escaped having to grocery shop with a child in tow, I couldn’t help but think how much I loved my life. Gazing at the clear blue cloudless sky, the kind you can get lost in, I reflected on how much I love my community filled to overflow with kind and generous people. I cherished my neighborhood made up of kids on bicycles, squeals of delight, chalk drawings on sidewalks, and parents willing to lend a hand or sympathetic ear. My church is amazing, not in its perfection, because that doesn’t exist, but instead in its imperfection and brokenness. I even love my house, all messy floors and windows and people. Especially the people.
And that’s when it struck me. The people of Syria love their homes, too. They love the laundry waiting to be done, the floors longing to be scrubbed, the dishes in desperate need of attention. What they wouldn’t give for the return of busy Saturdays full of errands, shopping, and normalcy, a return to routine and ordinary. They didn’t choose to leave their messy homes, to pack up and leave their neighborhoods and communities. They didn’t choose to because they had no choice. They fled…for their lives.
As I sit in my dirty and disorganized kitchen, thousands of refugees from Syria and Iraq are battling torrential rain, the imposing threat of a harsh winter to come, hunger, fear, and overwhelming odds. Dirty dishes are the least of their worries, but remain their hearts’ desire. They don’t want Germany, France, Canada, or America. They want home. They want Syria. But as long as it is a battleground and those who falsely claim to fight for a cause ordained by God are allowed to carry out their barbarous deeds that no religion or creed would condone, the Syrian people cannot go home.
I just packed my son’s lunch and backpack for tomorrow.
Their children cannot attend school.
His clothes are laid out for the week, matching socks and all.
The mud from the rain that will not let up is caked on the one pair of shoes she grabbed for her son as she ran in terror out her front door.
My freezer is packed with dinners for the week.
They don’t know where their next meal will come from.
“It Is Well With My Soul” comes over my computer speakers, that beautiful hymn full of heartbreak yet overwhelming peace. A husband and father faced with unimaginable loss somehow finds hope. I know this hope. I have felt it, this steadfast anchor. Yet, it is not well with my soul tonight. I don’t believe it is well with God’s soul, either. How could it be when there is so much hurt, so much pain, so much brokenness? I wish I could fix the problem, ease the tensions, mend the rift. How I wish I could offer a room, a warm meal, a smile, or a feeling of home to a family in need. Until this is possible, I will do what I can from afar.
Prayer is a mighty weapon that moves God’s heart, so I will continue to pray.
Education sheds light and erases ignorance, so I will continue to speak.
Let us never allow the busyness of our normal to impede our ability to care and do good.
“Instead of fearfully turning away from Syrian refugees, we need to see the amazing opportunity we have to show the love of Christ. This is an unprecedented moment for the church. The gospel’s most powerful expression is love. When you love the unloved and the broken, it always provokes the question to which Jesus is the answer: Why do you care?”
~Richard Stearns, President of World Vision U.S.