I saw an article today about a young 3 year old boy that had washed up on a beach in Turkey as his family was trying to flee from Syria. The image, I think, will forever be burned into my mind, a helpless boy lying facedown in the sand, lifeless. I see that photo and I burst into tears. It reminds me of Emma when she is sleeping...peacefully. And it hurts to know that he is not sleeping, but in fact endured a lot of pain before his life ended. The only peace I find is trusting that God has had mercy on his soul and given him everlasting relief. He is at peace now, he knows a better peace than any of us have ever experienced. But, oh, the pain we still feel here at his loss. And the reason for his loss. He was a citizen of a country that didn’t care for him, fleeing to a place that wouldn’t take him, and finally ending up on the shores of another country that likely would have rejected him if he washed up on shore alive. Only in his death is he being lifted up as a symbol. Only in his death am I left in tears. Only in his death...
And I am left thinking, what do I do? How do I convey to these children halfway around the world that they do matter, that they matter in life and death, and that even though those in leadership have failed them miserably, they still have infinite value? How do I do that to those close by to me? It seems like too much for me to take on, but I MUST act. I have been shown too much mercy and grace to withhold what I have been given.
"Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom;listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah, 11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals;I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me, New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you, even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! 16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight;stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet,they shall be as white as snow;though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. " (Isaiah 1:10-18)
I am reminded of the words in Isaiah 1 where God is talking to his people, telling them that their offerings and sacrifices have become a burden to him, that he is becoming weary of them because they are not obeying his commands, he doesn't have their heart. They are not walking rightly, they are not fighting for justice, they are not defending the oppressed, the widow, the orphan...and I have to add...the refugee. God, became weary of them...burdened. GOD. BURDENED. In my faith, I almost see those two words as an oxymoron, an extreme juxtaposition, the one thing that is impossible for God is to be BURDENED; to be WEARY. But that is what he is when we aren't following him with our hearts. That is what He is when we are not defending the oppressed, fighting for justice, taking up the cause of the fatherless, the widow... the refugee.
These things are heavy on my heart today. These things, I don’t think I will, and I hope I won’t forget. Little Aylun Kurdi. I will not forget you.
Lord, I am grateful, so grateful for the things you have blessed me with. A loving family, a safe neighborhood, an education, a healthy family, a supportive community, a stable government, a non-oppressive leader, so many more. I know that any and all of these things could easily be taken away in an instant, so I thank you for letting me have them a little while longer today. Lord, I am grateful too for the mercy you have show me, for the peace that I feel most days, for the absence of significant strife and discouragement, for absence of punishment I deserve for the things I have done, said, or thought. I am grateful that you have been withholding judgement a little while longer today. Lord, continue extending your grace, and prolonging your mercy in my life.
But Lord, you know there are those who have not experienced the same mercy and grace that I have. They are oppressed, hopeless, in despair. I pray that you would show me how to extend the grace and mercy I have been given and that they would see YOU in my actions. Help them, for they don't know what to do. And help me, because I feel burdened and weary too.